15 November 2006

Cell Phones in New York City Schools

There has been a debate for a number of months about the ban on cell phones in New York City's schools. Parents talk about how it is important to contact their children or for their children to contact them. I agree with Jerry's earlier comment on this post. Because of cell phones, people do not plan things in advance.
When I was in school (before cell phones were really popular), I would use a payphone to call my parents when I needed to be picked up from school. If I got sick, the nurse would call a parent at work or home. Cell phones are not absolutely necessary for children in school. With that being said...
I'd hope that if someone at the school decided I needed a cornea transplant (as apparently happened according to this article), the school would at least try to talk to me about getting in touch with my parents, rather than leave me to try to contact them surreptitiously with my cell phone.
I also do not understand how a mother whose daughter broke her arm in a fight would not be able to get through to the school.
As far as the child who was unable to call for help when he was arrested for disorderly conduct, my bet is that one of the things that gets taken away from you when you are arrested is your cell phone. So I don't think the cell phone ban hurt that young man.
If the school does not answer the phone, does not have adequate track of its students, or sends them to hospitals for corneal transplants without consulting a parent or making a reasonable effort to contact the parent, then that is a serious problem which must be fixed. I think cellphones can be useful to students and convenient for them. If they are in lockers throughout the school day, I don't really see a problem.
However, students can use payphones to inform parents of their whereabouts, just as students did for years before cell phones became widespread, so I'm not sure if cell phones are absolutely necessary. Maybe an absolute ban is a good idea.

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