Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Quick Fix

In a continuation of Joel Klein's new policy of material awards for academic achievement, a new campaign is being planned that uses cell phones to motivate students to stay in school and do well. Cell phones are given to everyone in the schools affected by this plan, as well as cell phone minutes and ring tones for meeting certain standards of performance. The campaign will specifically target minorities and schools in poor neighborhoods.

The campaign also involves mentoring for the targeted students. This, I think, is a more appropriate action. If the city spent money on making school a positive, supportive environment, they wouldn't need to spend it on buying hundreds of cell phones.

Mentoring does not teach the lesson that one should learn for immediate, often monetary, rewards. Instead it creates a place where kids might be more willing to learn, and gives them a person to turn to rather than dropping out. While this seems idealistic, I think it's time we worked towards a larger goal rather than continue with shallow solutions to deep-rooted problems.

One day when my brother was in his sophomore year of high school, he found at that a philosophy club was meeting at lunch and there would be free donuts. He went to the meeting, and, upon realizing that there were no more donuts, promptly turned and left. What's going to happen when the public school's budget needs to be cut and students can no longer receive cellphones? Well, they'll turn and walk back onto the street.

We need to focus more on the idea of mentoring, small classes and better learning environments. It will take time, but it's better than wasting time.

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