Seth Weinberger, the founder of the non-profit organization Innovation for Learning, created a software that allows tutors to work with students via phone calls and the computer. While talking with the student, the tutor and the student are working on reading skills through stories geared to the student's reading levels. Schools in high crime are taking advantage of this software to improve their students' reading scores. The results so far indicate the program works and that many schools are seeing drastic improvement in the scores. Public School 3 in the West Village of Manhatten, New York, for example, had 78% of their 3rd graders pass the state English exam. They previously had extremely low percentages pass.
The argument in this article is how effective the software is in helping students to learn to read and write. While the tone of the article is clearly positive, the author does present the opposite view point. Some worry that the tutoring will not be as beneficial as intended due to the non-existent "face time" between the tutor and the student (they speak over the telephone while viewing the same material on the computer). They believe the observations a tutor makes about the body language and facial expressions of the student would further benefit the session. However, the point the author is making is that in high crime areas where volunteer tutors are hard to find, this alternative may provide the much needed help these schools seek.