Mattie Stevens '13

Students are bothered by the requirement to purchase expensive new calculators

By Mattie Stevens, ’13

By the end of the last school year, rumors were circulating that the UA school district was going to require every middle school and high school student to purchase a brand new calculator. The catch: these calculators would cost $130.

I asked myself, “What could possibly be the reason for forcing every student at Jones Middle School, Hastings Middle School and UAHS to purchase one or—depending on the family—multiple calculators?”

Teachers informed students that the reason for this drastic change was to better prepare students for the calculator technology used in college. I can understand why teachers would see that as a reason to make the switch. However, this kind of advanced calculator technology would be best suited for advanced mathematics courses, which not all students will want to pursue.

The calculator includes new features that were not offered on the TI-84 Plus, including a full color sceen, a full key pad and compatible computer software.

However, a downfall of the new software is that the calculators require charging at least once every three weeks. Compared to the TI-84 Plus, which only requires everyday batteries that last about a year, the N-Spire is much less convenient. Imagine what peril a student would find themselves in when their battery died the day of a test.

I believe that the calculators are an attempt to promote technological evolution in this school district, hereby emphasizing the affluence of Upper Arlington and magnifying the inaccurate assumption that UA families can make ends meet no matter what. This could furthermore strengthen the infamous stereotypes pertaining to UA’s wealth.

Another downside to the new calculators is that teachers are now squandering class time in order to teach students how to use the calculators and software. Not only does this delay learning for days, but this also causes students to spend more time during tests trying to decipher the calculator keys instead of solving problems.

A more demanding issue that arises with the requirement to purchase new calculators is the high price.

For families with more than one student, these calculators can cost hundreds. Some siblings, such as senior Joe Wallace and junior Maddie Wallace, have attempted to share their new calculator, however this is not an ideal situation. Unfortunately, the safest option is to spend the money so each child has a calculator to call his or her own.

The one upside to requiring the district-wide purchase of these calculators is that those just starting out in middle school will not have to purchase a new calculator every year as I did, having had to buy four calculators over the course of six years. That doesn’t even account for calculators that were lost and needed replacing. For those just beginning sixth grade, they may only need to purchase one or two calculators, ultimately saving those lucky families money that could be saved for college tuition, among other things.

In addition to families feeling stressed out due to the price of these calculators, some seniors are refusing to purchase the new calculators. Their rationale is that they’ll only be using the calculator for one year and figure that their TI-84 Plus is doing the job just fine. Seniors should not be required to purchase these TI-nspire calculators, due to the fact that they will only use them for nine months.

I agree with those that claim that the district demanding every student from sixth grade to 12th grade to buy a new $130 dollar calculator is ludacris. Other students and I could be saving that money to pay for more pressing costs, such as college. We have a right to protest, and what will we lose if we never purchase these calculators? Certainly not $130.