End the cellphone ban – NYPost.com


I thought you’d like to read “End the cellphone ban” on NYPOST.com at http://nyp.st/MXDEsJ. Read it if only for the far out comments. I often wonder if some commenters turn off their brains after reading the first paragraph. And then they write in response to what they think they read. Let me know what you think.

End the cellphone ban

It’s time to end the city’s ban on cellphones in schools. The original rationale is clearly outdated,and enforcement is uneven and even discriminatory —and an unjust policy undermines the whole project of education.

Plus,Mayor Bloomberg’s contradictory claims on the topic make him seem to be governing on the basis of personal whim.

Post readers have seen the headlines. The armed robbery of a phone-storage truck outside Columbus HS alerted the city to the $4.2 million-a-year business that takes money from kids’ pockets to safeguard cells during school hours.

And the scandal of the alleged ring of Stuyvesant HS student using cellphones to cheat on Regents exams highlighted the fact that the ban isn’t —can’t be —enforced at the vast majority of schools that lack permanent metal detectors. It’s “Don’t ask,don’t tell” nearly everywhere else —on phones, iPads and other outlawed devices.

Meanwhile,metal detectors are a feature mainly of predominantly black and Hispanic schools. So those kids have to pay to store their phones,while children at other schools don’t. The disparity allows parent activist Mona Davids to call the policy racist —and she’s hardly the only one that thinks so.

My wife also points out that,as a parent,schools with metal detectors are places you’d most want your child to have her cellphone.

It’s hard to remember,but the ban started as a response to the problem of theft,when phones were relatively new and rare. Now they’re common.

Later,we were told that they could make it too easy to cheat. But the Stuyvesant scandal shows us that that problem remains — and one that an alert principal can handle.

The policy is as outdated as a pager.

Yet Mayor Bloomberg has doubled down,claiming students might use them to watch pornography. That silly claim not only ignores the fact that they can still do so,outside of school,but makes me wonder if he’s even noticed the Department of Education’s explicit guides on sexuality education —and the even more shocking Web sites that DOE refers students to.

The mayor says children as young as 11 are mature enough to benefit from sexuality education (and free condoms),but he won’t trust them with cellphones because they may send “sexts” or watch porn?

It gets worse: In the wake of last year’s murder of Leiby Kletzky,the 8-year-old who got lost walking home from school,Bloomberg said cellphones increase child safety: “If you want to have something that a parent can know where their child is —cellphones. A lot of the smartphones have that [GPS] technology.”

Which Bloomberg are parents to believe? The one who says cellphones are a safety net,or the one who condemns them as are gateways to porn?

Teens can detect bull,Mr. Mayor. They see it in school policies that urge them to act responsibly in sexual matters and to drive responsibly —but won’t permit responsible cellphone use.

At best,DOE officials have taken the easy road of banning the devices,rather than tackling basic discipline.

The real issue is classroom management,not cellphones. Teachers with well-managed classrooms won’t have students texting or cheating in class.

The handful of students who’d use the devices to facilitate cheating and organizing mayhem don’t justify a ban that is selectively enforced. The safety of all students shouldn’t be compromised due to the misbehavior of some.

Last August,Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals that having some schools implement voluntary sexeducation while others didn’t created an “uneven system that . . . does not serve our students well.”

He should heed those words today —and replace the unevenly enforced cellphone ban with a clear,written policy that simply requires phones to be turned off in class.

Lift the ban and teach students to act responsibly. Ultimately,isn’t that what public education is about?

Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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One Response to End the cellphone ban – NYPost.com

  1. mercadeo says:

    WNYC’s Brian Lehrer asked WNYC’s schools reporter, Beth Fertig, if the city ban on cellphones in schools was unfair because it means that students attending schools with metal detectors pay for cellphone storage, while their peers across town don’t think twice about keeping their phones with them all day.

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