Monday, November 19, 2007

City Expands Texts for Tests

November 19, 2007 (GBN News): A plan by the NY City Department of Education to distribute cell phones to city school children as rewards for good grades is being expanded, and the phones will soon be sending text message ads to all students in the city. According to GBN News sources, the new plan came out of meticulous research commissioned by Mayor Bloomberg, and is based on the results of a focus group hand-picked by the Mayor and comprised of trusted friends from the business world. In fact, when Mr. Bloomberg said recently that the only reason parents want their children to have cell phones is for children to tell them if they want beef or fish for dinner, he was basing his statement on information from this focus group.

The Mayor, who made billions selling new technologies through his company, Bloomberg LP, was quick to realize the marketing potential of the situation. According to these sources, he formed a task force to devise a plan utilizing cell phone technology to meet parents’ and children’s needs while simultaneously enhancing children’s education. The plan that reportedly arose from this task force is being called "The Million Program", and is to eventually reach all 1.1 million school children in the city through cell phones that will carry advertising tailored to people’s expressed needs.

As currently conceptualized, the program will distribute cell phones that carry only text messages with specific advertising. For all other purposes, the phones will be locked. Every day, children will receive five text ads, each related to a specific dinner choice. For example, the ad might be for Angus beef, Bumble Bee tuna, or even a local steak of seafood restaurant. After a child has viewed the five messages, the phone will be unlocked so the child can text the parents with his or her choice of menu for the night. Children will then be reinforced with text messages from famous high school dropouts who make millions in sports and entertainment, with cool quotes such as, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Anticipating criticism that the advertising could be a distraction to children in school, the Mayor reportedly said that any such distractions would be offset by the advertising dollars that would flow into the school system. “More money pays for more reforms and that means more test prep,” the Mayor was said to have told the task force. “That will improve test scores, which will more than make up for the effects of any minor disruptions to their day.”

The Mayor also dismissed concerns that the restricted phones do not address parents’ worries over children’s safety before and after school. “The focus group had no such concerns,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “They all felt that their children are perfectly safe traveling with their chauffeurs.”

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