Ridiculous School Cellphone Ban Is Finally Being Lifted

cellphone ban lifted New York City

I honestly didn’t realize that cellphones had long been banned in New York City public schools until I read today’s news that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning to announce an end to the controversial practice. During his campaign, de Blasio promised he would undo former mayor Mike Bloomberg’s policy, and it sounds like he’s making good on his vow today — the ban will reportedly be lifted on March 2. Not only will New York City students be able to carry phones, they’ll be allowed to use them for educational purposes in some classrooms. Now the question remains: what do parents think about kids having phones at school?

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Bloomberg was a strong supporter of the ban against phones and electronic devices like iPads, saying that they created unnecessary distractions in school and helped facilitate cheating. Other supporters pointed out that phones can be linked to cyberbullying and that teachers had enough to do without monitoring students to make sure they weren’t playing games or texting in class.

Opponents have repeatedly brought up the safety issue of restricting kids’ communications while they’re at school, as well as the seemingly hypocritical issue of limiting students’ access to learning tools in a time when budgets are making it increasingly difficult for schools to provide resources. As NYC Comptroller John Liu said in a technology forum last April,

We can't say we want [students] to learn on the Internet and then when they come to school, take away the only device they have to access the Internet.

Mayor de Blasio has flat-out stated that his own son violated the regulation as a Brooklyn Tech High School student, the same school where de Blasio is expected to announce revised regulations today. The new policy will reportedly leave the decision-making about the specifics of electronic rules in the hands of principals, including whether to occasionally collect the devices or simply require students to keep them out of sight.
 
One history teacher says he’s unsure how staff will manage phones once they’re allowed:

The question the ­Department of Education has to ask themselves is how do we enforce it? What are we going to do if illicit content is found on the phones? Hopefully strong leadership can enforce it.

And another says they’re certain new challenges will crop up as a result:

It’s definitely going to cause problems. I catch teachers all the time using their phones even though they’re not supposed to.

I’m sure it won’t be 100 percent smooth sailing for New York City schools to adopt the new policy, but personally I’m all in favor of it. Not only are today’s phones filled with a wealth of information that students should be able to access, parents and kids should be able to reach each other if there’s an emergency. I can think of a million reasons my kid should be able to call me during the day, and that alone seems worth the price of having to monitor potential distractions. Like it or not, phones are an integral part of our lives now, and kids shouldn’t be exempt just because the policy of allowing devices is a hassle.

What do you think about the lifted ban in NYC? Are you in favor of it, or do you think all schools should keep students’ phones outside the building?


Image via francisco_osorio/Flickr

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