"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, March 30, 2008

School Bribes and the Brains of Children

In November Newsweek had a story on the campaign to sell the test factories we call schools to the children we have caused to hate them. Among the bribes--cell phones for poor kids in New York City:
So Klein is setting out to sell school achievement to schoolchildren—much in the same way that kids are sold soda, breakfast cereal or pop music. With the help of an as yet unnamed advertising agency, he's launching a slick multimedia campaign complete with celebrity pitchmen, viral marketing schemes, free videos and give-away prizes aimed at "rebranding" academics.

Here's the plan: in January about 15,000 middle-schoolers from high-poverty neighborhoods will be given free cell phones. Through those phones kids will then receive taped—and perhaps even personal—messages from entertainment and sports celebrities reminding them to try their best in class. They'll be able to download "interviews" with well-to-do men and women who work as dentists, technicians, scientists and accountants and who will discuss the way they parlayed school success into financial security. Teachers will also use the phones to remind pupils about upcoming tests or an overdue homework assignment. When individuals or groups of kids improve their attendance, up their grades or display good citizenship in school, they'll be rewarded with free minutes on their phones and tickets to shows and sporting events. Kids who get phones will also be assigned mentors.
Now we have new evidence of the growing threat of cell phone radiation to users over time, especially children, who are more vulnerable to extended exposure:

From The Independent:
By Geoffrey Lean
Sunday, 30 March 2008

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal. . . .

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