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Good Grades = Free Cell Phones for These Kids

Wednesday, 6 Oct 2010 | 4:30 PM ET

btw (back to work)

That could be the text of a studious 6th grader in Oklahoma City public schools soon, as the result of a new program.

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The program, called the Million and debuting on Friday, merges business with public education by giving students free cell phones, minutes and texts for getting good grades and reading more books.

“Many of the students have not had a cell phone,” said Carl Springer, superintendent of schools for Oklahoma City, who endorses the cell phone program that will affect some 1,500 6th and 7th graders.

He said 90 percent of the students there receive free or reduced-price lunches, so that owning a phone, which their families can’t afford, can be a boost to their academic success.

Calling All Kids: Free Cell Phone
Oklahoma City is launching an incentive program rewarding students with free cell phones in exchange for good grades. Karl Springer, Oklahoma City's superintendent of schools, discusses the program with CNBC.

“By using the cell phone and the cell phone minutes, we reward them," said Springer. "We feel that will encourge them to increase the number of books they read this year.”

Under the plan, started by the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University (EdLabs) and used in New York City in 2008, Samsung will donate the phones and TracFone, the minutes and texts. Local businesses also are contributing to the project.

Springer said the students and their parents are enthusiastic about the plan.

“Of course, we want our children to be intrinsically motivated to do well in school,” added Springer, who noted that rewards work. “Just about everybody who goes to work has some sort of incentive.”

wth (what the heck)

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