Thursday, June 15, 2006

NYC's Unreasonable School Cell Phone Ban

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is refusing to lift a ban on students bringing cell phones to school, even if the phones are turned off and out of sight. Most of the New York City Council disagrees with the Mayor, taking the reasonable position that the phones should be allowed on campus as long as they're not used. It appears some parents, who understandably view the phones as an important emergency safety device, may end up in court over the issue.

Our district once banned student cell phones, when they were relatively expensive and seen more as a tool for drug dealers and gang members than as a safety item. In this post-Columbine, post-9/11 era, parents fought for the ban to be lifted, and it was. Cell phones were allowed to be on campus, as long as they were turned off in class; their use was permitted only before and after school hours. You broke the rule, your phone was confiscated. Within the last year or two, the phones having proven no problem, the district's rules were loosened even further and phone use has been allowed during the lunch period -- not a necessary privilege, but one that has proven convenient from time to time for us and our high school age daughter.

New York school officials insist other systems are in place for parents and children to make contact in an emergency. Frankly, I have not always been very impressed with the common sense or decisions of our own local school administrators, and during a major emergency one-on-one contact with each parent is difficult to accomplish in a short time frame. As a parent, I'm much more comfortable having direct "emergency access" to my child, and I can certainly understand NYC parents feeling the same way.

It's interesting to me that the mayor of the city hit hardest by 9/11 would dig in his heels so strongly against students having cell phones. Technology marches on, and in this case the mayor needs to march along with it.


Blogger Robin B said...

Laura, For another perspective you might check out what happened earlier this month in Modesto City Schools:


3:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That is an amazing story -- I have to admit that while it's a very sad commentary on these students abusing their phone privileges, it also leaves me wondering where the teacher was, if such an extremely high number of students could cheat so blatantly, and at least one other student in the room was aware of the students checking phones and notes hidden on their persons. Was no one proctoring the test? (If the answers were texted in advance of the test, students could also have received them by email and hidden them in pockets, just as some of these students did...) It's also a shame that the young lady who observed the cheating and was "cracking up" didn't quietly inform someone in authority what was happening. That story is really a shame, all the way around. You've got to wonder how kids with such lack of character are going to succeed in life...why do I have the feeling our taxes will end up supporting some of them?!

Cell phones here are not to be seen or heard during class, and if so they are confiscated...

Thanks for sharing this! TTYS, Laura :)

4:30 PM  
Blogger Ugly Naked Guy said...

Now for a teacher's perspective:

Ban them. It is such a disruption to have cell phones in school, and it is not as easy as you think to catch someone using one in class. Let me explain:

I am a teacher who never stands still, but walks around the room all the time. In spite of this, even though I was tipped off that someone was text messaging right that very moment, it was very difficult for me to catch them in the act. They are very adept at doing this with one hand under the desk while looking like they are paying attention. Even though I knew that a student was doing it (another teacher in another room had caught the friend who he was texting to and called me to tell me) I still had to look very carefully in order to catch them in the act. If I had a hard time catching the person when I knew they were doing it, there is no way I would have noticed otherwise.

I hate the cell phone thing. The people with no regards for the rules ruin it for everybody else, so I think we should just ban them. I can only imagine how bad it is in NYC.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Appreciated hearing of your experience... One of the things I struggle with is I find it disheartening to constantly have to make rules to fit the people living by the lowest common denominator of behavior...kind of like how you're faced with the lowest common denominator in your classroom messing up the learning experience for everyone else.

In my ideal world (grin) I'd like to toss out and/or punish those who refuse to play by the rules -- as you say, they ruin it for everyone else -- and let the rest of us carry on in responsible fashion. Maybe a pipe dream...

Always interested to hear from someone on the "front lines" in our schools. TTYS, Laura

5:07 PM  

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