Teacher to student: Do ur homework. Remember the kid that used to text message his or her friends under the desk in flagrant disregard of cell phone bans at school? Remember how that kid was a little bit bad-ass, with a dash of devil-may-care attitude? Now, I regret to inform you, that kid might be a straight-A student.
Our fair city is test-driving a new experiment to try to motivate student achievement that was dreamed up by Harvard economist and the city's chief quality officer Roland G. Fryer. For the bargain price of $2 million dollars raised from private donors, School Chancellor Joe I. Klein had to cut the original target sample group from 10,000 to 15,000 students to just 2,500 lucky Brooklyn middle schoolers.
The overachievers will be rewarded with phones that have 130 prepaid minutes, and will get additional minutes for showing up, staying in line and scoring high on tests, and those kids ALSO get rewarded by getting text message reminders about upcoming tests. Because we all know getting texts from your teacher is supercool.
So this program raises three questions in my mind:
1.) Do you think the private donors that bankrolled the $2 million program are the parents that want their kids to get As at any cost? (And if they do it secretly by donating money instead of pleading with their children that devolves into outright bribery, does that put a better face on it?)
2.) Does anyone else remember their parents telling them they better do well in school OR ELSE because it was their JOB?
3.) Come on, New York, don't you know everyone has cell phones by the time they're seven now? If you really wanted to motivate students, you would have gotten them iPods.