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Two Setbacks For NYC "Incentives" Initiative Guru Roland Fryer

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First, New York magazine revealed that the controversial new program to "incentivize" low-income families with financial rewards may not have dramatic effects because it didn't seek out those families most in need and instead relied on a sample of families who signed up for the program. Doh! Academic superstar Rolan Fryer (pictured) joined the school system to design and run the effort.

Now, the idea of using cell phones and cell phone talk time as an incentive for student academics has run into a predictable political buzz-saw. Why? Well, last year, the NYC schools system banned cell phones from schools, a decision that was widely opposed by students and parents and has led many corner stores to "check" students cell phones while they're in school each day.

Neither of these reward-based ideas is necessarily bad, in my view at least, but someone get this guy a (better) handler and a brush-up on selection bias. When you're at the center of the storm, you just can't mess up like this. Or maybe there's more behind this that I don't know.

Meanwhile, the controversy of the city's effort to discredit Diane Ravitch continues with her response (here).

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