Plans call for 1,500 local middle-school students to receive the phones Friday, as what is dubbed The Million program is rolled out in Oklahoma City.
For nine months, the students will receive free phones and can earn minutes in exchange for academic success. Harvard economist Roland Fryer has conducted similar experiments in a handful of other urban school systems, using money instead of phones as the incentive.
Oklahoma City Public School District Superintendent Karl Springer says the program is a wonderful opportunity for students.
Critics say the program in effect bribes the students to make academic progress and that any motivation will be short-lived.