RALEIGH - Nine-year-old Samantha Hubbard's eyes popped open for an instant as the thought flashed through her mind.
Would she study harder if North Carolina offered to pay her $1,000 a year from kindergarten through high-school graduation if she came to class, behaved, and earned good grades?
It's a reach beyond rewards like gold stars and pizza parties. But dangling cash rewards could be the cheapest and most effective motivator to raise test scores and lower dropout rates, said Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, R-Cabarrus, who is proposing the idea in legislation awaiting a committee hearing. If the money is paid to parents, that could get them more involved in helping their children succeed, he said.
"I think it's good. I think you should give the money to kids," said Samantha, the mention of a new bicycle in her ears.
Her parents weren't impressed.
"I think it's a bad idea. Even if the money went to me. I think that's a worse idea, for it to go to the parents. I think if you're going to do it it's going to have to go to the kids when they graduate," said Vanessa Hubbard, who with her husband David chaperoned their daughter's Archdale Elementary School class on a visit to the state museums in Raleigh. "No, our tax money shouldn't pay to motivate them as a parent."