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This City Has a Bold Plan to Close the Technology Gap

February 14, 2014
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This City Has a Bold Plan to Close the Technology Gap
A view of the Houston skyline at dusk on March 26, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Houston has a multimillion-dollar program to equip every high school student and staff with a laptop.

Houston has pulled an Oprah on its high schools. But instead of handing out cars, the Texan city has given nearly 65,000 students and staff members laptops, as part of the PowerUp program, Tech Page One reports. PowerUp is a multimillion-dollar investment that gives Houston’s large population of lower-income students — many who can’t afford a computer — a leg up in our increasingly digital landscape.

It may seem counterintuitive to give high school students easier access to distractions like social media or games, but these particular laptops are loaded with software that blocks inappropriate sites. And it’s not just a boost in technological know-how. According to Tech Page One, Houston is following in the footsteps of North Carolina’s Mooresville Graded School district, which saw an impressive 33 percent jump in test scores after it gave out laptops to every students from 4th to 12th grades.

MORE: Why some educators are encouraging students to spend more time in front of a glowing screen

Lastly, these machines aren’t as pricey as you might imagine. Use of these laptops sets each student back just $25 for a security deposit, and it saves them money because they don’t have to buy pricey textbooks. Currently, 11 schools have laptops for every student, with plans to expand to all 40 high schools in the Houston district. And if it works out in Houston, the program might come to a district near you.

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