Sunday, May 14, 2006

New York's School Cell Phone Ban Causes Uproar
NEW YORK (May 12) - A ban on cell phones in the nation's biggest school system is creating an uproar among parents and students alike, with teenagers smuggling their phones inside their lunches and under their clothes, and grown-ups insisting they need to stay in touch with their children in case of another crisis like Sept. 11. Parents have written angry letters and e-mails, staged rallies and news conferences, and threatened to sue. Some City Council members are introducing legislation on their behalf.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and schools Chancellor Joel Klein have staunchly refused to drop the ban. They insist cell phones are a distraction and are used to cheat, take inappropriate photos in bathrooms, and organize gang rendezvous. They are also a top stolen item. Students have refused to give up their phones, saying the devices have become too vital to their daily existence and to their parents' peace of mind. Some parents would prefer a policy that lets students have cell phones but prohibits their use in classes.

New York's 1.1-million-student school system has banned beepers and other communication devices since the late 1980s. But schools have long used an "out-of-sight, out-of-trouble" approach. Then, late last month, city officials began sending portable metal detectors every day to a random but small set of schools to keep out weapons. And the detectors have led to the confiscation of hundreds of cell phones.

New York has one of the country's toughest policies on student cell phones, and also bans other electronic devices such as iPods. Detroit bans cell phones, and a two-time violator will not get the phone back. Boston relied on a school-by-school approach until recently, when it changed the policy to let students have a phone, but only if it is turned off and out of sight. Los Angeles lets kids have cell phones, but they can use them only during lunch and breaks. Kenneth Trump, president of Ohio-based National School Safety and Security Services, said his research indicates most schools ban the phones. Others require students to turn off the devices during school hours.

New York principals said the ban is tough to enforce, especially in large schools without metal detectors.

Elizabeth Casanola sneaks her cell phone past the metal detectors at her high school by slipping it down her pants, just below the waistband, where she knows she won't be patted down. Once inside the school, another tactic is to hide the phone in a sandwich roll, according to one principal. Some students leave phones at nearby stores that charge small holding fees.

"It's kind of ridiculous that we think we can't survive without a cell phone when people did it for thousands of years," said Elisa Muyl, 14, a freshman at Stuyvesant High. "But now that they have this invention, we should use it."

I can only think of ONE reason a person in school needs to be allowed to carry a Mobile Phone or beeper during school hours. That reason is if and ONLY if said student or a family member if awaiting an organ for transplant. Other than that I can't really think of a reason why phones should be allowed in school. If there is an Emergency like the death of Aunt Sally or Uncle Leo you can call the school like parents and family members have been doing since Alexander Graham Bell's invention was placed in the schools.

Now before I am accused of being a technophobe I have a cell/mobile phone. I don't care for it either BUT the cost is MINIMAL and I can justify it for the business. Even though I have had this phone for less than a year and prior to that I was without a cell phone for over 10 years. I got along just fine without one and did when I was in High School as well. Though I do remember a kid I graduated with having a "beeper" (Cell phone where to new back then and very expensive) he carried with him all the time. He was awaiting an Organ Transplant and of course needed to be ready to go at a moments notice.

Of course if you have a different view than by all means post it!


Blogger tooners said...

interesting. i think it's ridiculous to "have" to have one. the use of these things has become increasingly crazy. here in the gulf everyone has one. my BIL bought one for his 6 yr old son! now.. why in the world does a 6 yr old need a cell phone! i hate them myself. i cant stand being at someone's beck and call all the time. my in-laws cant stand it. if they call me and i dont answer, you'd think that life was ceasing to exist. i personally want my own space and time... and w/ a cell phone, it's hard to have that. i think it's crazy that so many kids have these things. i did just fine w/out one in school.

when i first came here and taught school, i refused to allow the kids to have them in class. many dropped out because of it and would refuse to turn them off. here, it's like ppl have them glued to their heads. it gets on my last nerve!

May 15, 2006 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...


There’s been a lot of talk in New York recently about cellphones. Specifically by parents of New York schoolchildren, who want them to be able to keep them when they go to school.

Possession of cellphones by students in school have been against the rules in New York for years, but many schools had a “don’t use, don’t search” policy – school personnel would confiscate phones used on school property during school hours, but would not search students for cellphones that were not visible or in use. This created a workable compromise between the rules and the wishes of parents, who felt it was essential to be able to get in touch with their kids on the way to and from school.

This tacit compromise was destroyed (possibly unthinkingly) by the mayor, who announced a policy of unannounced metal detector scanning at ten random middle and high schools every day. Although the announced purpose of the scanning was to prevent weapons from entering city schools, it was made clear that the police would seize anything found that violated the Department of Education’s centralized discipline code – and that included cellphones.

This touched off a firestorm from parents, some of whom didn’t see anything wrong with police searching their kids at the schoolhouse door, but couldn’t see how the mayor could be so heartless as to deprive them of their link to their progeny. After all, the searches were all about their kids’ safety, and so were their phones. So where’s the problem?

The problem is that it’s not about safety, and it’s not about cellphones. Whether there’s a rule against possessing a cellphone in the city schools isn’t the issue; the issue is the needless invasions of our kids’ privacy. What the cellphone flap does do is bring it home. Many people these days think of government as that benevolent daddy who keeps you safe, and civil liberties as frivolities that law-abiding people shouldn’t need anyway – until something happens to make them realize that anybody can find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

The cellphone issue may be one of those things. It ought to wake up the parents of New York City’s children to the fact that the only thing that can protect them against arbitrary rules are limits on how those rules are enforced – and that our Constitutional rights are those limits.

After all, in today’s national climate, cellphones probably won’t be the only things we’ll be told to give up (one example: reproductive freedom seems like it’s on a lot of people’s list). The mayor thinks we ought to get used to being searched; I think we ought to get used to fighting for our civil liberties, instead.

May 16, 2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger tooners said...

ok, i do agree and most definitely see the point.

sadly, i think that a lot of the freedom that Americans like having could be done away w/ in a matter of years... it's already headed that way.

i think about this wire tapping... and i can only imagine what they must think when they listen to my telephone calls to my sister! there's no way of knowing IF they listen.. but.. if so, i hope they like it. that said, i've noticed a beeping sound sometimes when we talk... i've often wondered if they're taping the conversation.

May 17, 2006 7:05 AM  

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