Sunday, October 1, 2017

Why 2,000 Detroit 9th-graders just got free cell phones

Yes, it's true. 2,000 Detroit ninth graders were given free cell phones from Sprint. Why? To improve their education of course.

According to the article, the poverty rate in the Detroit School District is about 80%. Also, according to the article, some students have phones, including iphones. Some students at first refused the phones until they got a look at them. They must be might fancy phones. Not as fancy as an iphone, but they do have a "hot spot", so as we are reminded more than once, students can now do their homework.

Maybe it's because I've been losing my critical thinking faculties over the years, but I don't see the connection. Khan Academy or not, why would teachers in a district with an 80% poverty rate give homework that requires internet access? Especially if these poverty-stricken students only have iphones and can't access the web?

Oh, they're going to close the "digital divide." Students might not be able to read, but they will have internet access in order to do their homework. And we know they will pay attention to the caveats:

The phones come with some sober advice about using the device responsibly, contained in a set of information given to each student. Don't use it in class, unless the teacher says it's OK or there's an emergency, they're told.
Don't use it to bully or be mean to anyone. Don't use it while driving. Don't share personal information online like Social Security numbers, addresses or phone numbers.
And speaking of sharing, the students are told to be cautious when sharing and posting information online.
"Remember, the Internet does not forget!" 
The Internet might not forget, but students might forget to do their homework after spending their evenings on social media.

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