Original article can be found on The Brownsville Herald. Written by Gary Long.

The Brownsville Independent School District made good Wednesday on its promise to provide tablet computers to every fifth-grade student in the district.

Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas and Philip T. Cowen of the BISD Board of Trustees distributed Kajeet tablet computers with access to thousands of electronic books and loaded with educational software to students at Champion Elementary School. The tablets are sold by Verizon and include free Internet access, a key part of completing homework assignments, Zendejas said.

Officials at BISD’s other 37 elementary schools are in the process of distributing about 3,100 Kajeet tablets as part of a $1.2 million district initiative to “bridge the digital divide.” Trustees approved the initiative last year, but the tablets arrived late in the year, so they weren’t distributed until now, Zendejas said.

“We’re hearing that in the sixth grade students don’t read any more,” Zendejas said. “These tablets have a library of thousands upon thousands of books, so parents, there’s no reason your children shouldn’t be reading.” She also said teachers want more writing from students, and the tablets include word processing software.

They also come with academic electronic games “and most importantly, these computers come with Internet access to do homework. Students will be able to do research online. They won’t have to leave their homes to access the Internet,” she said.

Cowen said the computers have access to 20,000 electronic books, a fact he regards as “incredible.”

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