Mercer Island: Where The Top 1% Meet The Next 2% (Part II)

School District Takes Emergency Measures To Address Student iPhone Gap

The second article in an occasional, future-Pulitzer-Prize-nominated series about income equality on Mercer Island. [Read Part I: City To Consider Subsidized Housing For Doctors, Attorneys]

Beneath the veneer of wealth and privilege in our midst lies a dark secret: Every day, dozens of Islander Middle School and Mercer Island High School students go to school without the latest iPhone. Now, with the support of the Mercer Island Schools Foundation, the Mercer Island School District is able to purchase refurbished iPhones for students whose families are unable or unwilling to provide them.

“Every day we have children showing up with iPhone 5’s and 6’s in their pockets. These phones can be two, three, even four years old,” said MISD Director of Technology Morton Gore. “How do we expect to educate students when we can’t even meet their most basic needs? Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists, we can now provide an iPhone 6s to every student who needs one. Far from perfect, but enough to scrape by.”

For other students, the problem is even more dire: School officials cite documented cases of abusive parental cell phone procurement. “I know this one girl whose dad works at Microsoft and makes her use a Windows Phone,” said MIHS junior Madison Ashley: “OMG, she can’t even run Snapchat. I would, like, literally rather be dead.”

Not everyone agrees on the severity of the problem. “Why would anyone want an iPhone? They’re so lame!” said Gil Bates, MIHS senior and president of the school’s Hackerzz Kollectivv. “I jailbroke my Android phone and I can build new kernels on my Ubuntu box and download them whenever I want.” Bates then paused to wipe Cheetos crumbs from his t-shirt, which featured Chewbacca ripping off Jar Jar Binks’s head beneath the caption, “Star Wars Episode 3.5”.

Editor’s Note: To help Mercer Island children and families in genuine need, please consider supporting Mercer Island Youth & Family Services.