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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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New York’s Cell Phone Proposal: Lock ‘Em Up

In the latest twist over the battle over student cell phone use in New York City, school officials are proposing a compromise. And so far, it seems that many students and parents aren’t buying it.

You may recall from previous columns that I’ve been following this story with great interest, because it’s emblematic of a larger debate occuring throughout the US. The majority of high school students today own cell phones, yet schools are struggling to articulate an appropriate policy for how these phones should or shouldn’t be used on campus. Because of concerns that they’re a distraction, a cheating tool or a platform for cyber bullying, many school districts, including New York City, have adopted a zero-tolerance policy: if you’re caught with a cell phone on campus, it’s confiscated, sometimes for a lengthy period.

To the surprise of some officials, many parents have begun to fight the zero-tolerance policy, saying that they purchased the cell phones to keep in touch with their children in times of emergency. The September 11 attacks and school shooting incidents get cited as reasons students need to hang on to their phones. Even though these types of emergencies are exceedingly rare, parents argue that this is the whole point of having an emergency phone - just in case. At minimum, they argue that parents should be able to communicate with their kids as they go to and from school, and an outright ban would prevent this.

It’s been an unpleasant battle, to say the least, and now the city is attempting to offer a compromise. Rather than banning cell phones outright, they would require students to deposit their phones in specially designed lockers, where the phones would remain until the end of the day. That way, the phones are within proximity of the student, but not in their direct possession. WCBS TV reported on the proposal last weekend, quoting school spokesman David Cantor. “We’re trying to make a real effort to be responsive to parents who felt that we were not concerned about their ability to reach their kids and their kids’ ability to reach them while at the same time not compromising on our commitment not to let cell phones in the school doors,” he said.

The plan has already raised the eyebrows of students and parents, concerned about the possibility of theft and the additional costs of installing the lockers. For some, it’s seen as impractical. “I wish it would work, but I just know it won’t,” said Dorothy Giglio, co-president of the Parent Teacher Association at James Madison High School. “I have almost 4,300 students in my building. I cannot envision 4,300 lockers in front of the building.”

There’s another twist as well: students would have to pay a daily fee for storing their phones, perhaps as high as $2.50 a week. This may not seem like a significant burden, but some parents argue it places a financial burden on low income families, effectively raising their monthly cell bill around $10 per phone per month. “We’re supposed to have a free public education,” said parent Eugene Falik. “The locker proposal says the kids who have the money to rent the locker get to use it — kids who don’t, don’t.”

New York was scheduled to have a public meeting about the proposal in late December, but it has been delayed until January 18. Even if the locker proposal, it’s doubtful this will be the end of the story. -andy

Filed under : Mobile Devices, Policy


“…students would have to pay a daily fee for storing their phones, perhaps as high as $2.50 a week. This may not seem like a significant burden, but some parents argue it places a financial burden on low income families,…”

It seems like a significant burden to me and I am not a “low income” family.

But I disagree with parents who want the phones available to the kids in class and in the halls. The phones should be turned OFF during school hours. If found to be ON, it should be confiscated and the parents would need to come and pick it up.

Parents purchase cell phones “to keep in touch with students in times of emergency.” I teach in rural Arkansas, and I wish students were not allowed to have phones at school. I catch them text messaging during class, calling parents (from the restroom) to check them out of school to avoid a test or when they have broken a school rule and are in trouble.
The only time I can remember when a student phone was used during an emergency is when we had a crank call one semester. Before teachers could evacuate the students, kids were calling parents to come after them. It was chaotic and potentially dangerous. We could have easily lost track of where each student was. Parents were frantic and transfered their fears to the kids.
The threat turned out to be a hoax, but greater damage could have occured by the knee jerk reactions of students and parents.

What would have happened if the call hadn’t been a hoax, though? It still would have been chaotic and potentially dangerous, yet parents and students would be able to reach each other. -andy

In my opinion, a cell phone for a student is 98% personal use, 2% in case of “emergency”. I know most of the kids in highschool now were probably babies or not even born when cell phones became available. What did parents do before cell phones, hang around their phone at work and worry about what was happening to their son or daughter at school? I doubt it. If they needed to talk to their child they called the school office. As I see it, the uproar coming from the parents and kids is childish belly-aching about an electronic device that is mainly a convenience for 90% of the entire U.S. population, not a necessity. And a cell phone isn’t likely to PREVENT anything from happening to a student. I can, however, see cell phones in the hands of 4000 wild-eyed kids causing widespread pandemonium in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What am I missing here? This really does not seem complicated to me. My child is in a NYC middle school and makes his way to and from school on his own every day. I leave for work before him and arrive home after him. Being able to stay in touch before and after school in today’s world is essential to us and we are not alone. The school administration at my son’s schoool has made it clear that the formal policy is that cell phones are not permitted in the classroom and their use in school is grounds for confiscating the phone and ultimately suspension of the student. Having said that they absolutely know that the kids have them in their pockets and backpacks and accept it with a wink and a nod. We all understand that the confiscation and possible suspension will be enforced…and we all support that. It simply is not a problem. I would add that I have never witnessed any “…wild-eyed kids causing widespread pandemonium”. Also, I am not sure what the policy is at Ms. Tolleson’s school but sincerely and with all due respect, perhaps they should try the policy used at my son’s school.
Regarding the use of SMS to cheat, as the kids would say, “Puuleeese”. Before the advent of cell phones, kids passed notes, and wrote answers on their hands and legs and desks. No one ever suggested confiscating pens, pencils and notepads! Also, to supporters of the rule, starting with Mayor Bloomberg, I would ask: what hard evidence is there that this is truly a widespread problem? In the experience of our school community and others with whom we have discussed this issue, the evidence seems to be anecdotal. I can almost hear Professor Harold Hill sing, “trouble with a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘C’ and that stands for ‘cellphone’”.
Good principals, teachers, and parent involvement and support are the keys here. Let’s continue to concentrate on that, and not on what seems to many of us actually affected by this issue, to be a solution to what is really not a problem.

If students want to bring a cell phone to school I think this is fine. Rules just need to be put in place for appropriate use of a cell phone. They should have to keep the cell phone in their backpacks in their lockers with the ringer turned off. If a student has a cell phone out in class then I think the cell phone should get confiscated by the school. There is no reason why I student needs a cell phone in the classroom. In case of emergency, the office could pull the needed student out of class.

As a teacher, I can tell you that middle-schoolers will go into the bathrooms and call parents to come pick them up, text their friends during class, and play games on their phones.
The worst incident I’ve seen is an eighth-grader who called her 19 year old boyfriend to pick her up during the school day. On the way to gym class, she ducked into a parking lot and left campus with him. That didn’t go over well with the police or our administration.
Perhaps reasonable parents would support the collection of phones used during school hours, but many parents are not reasonable. You’d be astonished at how many adults will come to retrieve the phone and use profanity with or threaten staff members. (It’s never their kid’s fault of course.)
When I was a child, if my parents needed to speak with me, they’d call the school. I always got the message…

I teach gr. 3-5 Sunday School and have to remind students to turn off phones and put them in their pockets—otherwise they are constantly playing with them and providing entertainment/distraction for other students.
(Can’t wait to student teach in the fall!)

Here is a simple idea… when the student breaks out the phone in class for any reason or the phone goes off because it in not turned off, it goes into a box by the door. On the way out, get your phone. If you forget, parent picks it up in the office. Easy and cheap…

I am a 14 year old at Eatonville Middle School in Eatonville, Washington. I feel as a kid, when I need to talk to my parents in an emergency the office at school doesn’t always let me use the school phone. And when my parents call I don’t always get the message when I should.I feel that kids, teenagers, whatever should be able to have their cell phones at school; with out getting in trouble as long as it is an emergency.

Sometimes when you are at school and the nurse doesnt belive that you are sick and you really are you can call your mom and ask her to call the nurse and tell her. I remeber once when i was getting picked up early and my mom couldnt find me so she called me and tried to find me, that was need and if i would of had my phone in my locker i probally wouldnt of found my mom and been late for my appointment.

I am a student at University of Oregon and I have to do a reasearch paper on the topic. I am disappointed with all of these students telling their tales of strife in shcool, “this one time my mommy had to talk to me and then I cried and everyone was sick…..thank god for my cellphone”. I am of your generation and frankly, it is embarassing to hear so many quotes from kids on this topic. If you want to keep your cell in school, get creative with it. Dont go whining about it. If there is some desperate situation, I am sure that you can figure something out to solve the problem. Enough of this pathetic whining on behalf of the students. If the factulty wants to threaten to take away your phones, just turn them off during the school day. It is the student’s fault for letting their personal text-relationships get in the way of their education. Too many fingers being pointed here in the wrong direction, lets all just point our fingers at the students who messed everything up.

Cellphones should not be allowed…period!

Cell phones should be aloud in school! Paying $2.50 to store your phone is unheard of! What if there was an emergeny? There are tons of reasons why we should have cell phones in school!

why is it so importent to teachers not to have a cell phone at school?

Times have changed! In my day parents agreed an education should come first and tools to cheat came in last.

My cell is turned off when it might distract, this includes customer conferences and talking to the boss. What could be different in school? Why not have all phones placed in view and turned off at times they might get used when timing is wrong? Phones not turned in and found to be used for cheating could be handled by expelling the student, as it was in days gone by.

Okay…let’s think about this. Do we allow students to have game boys in school? How about cameras to take pictures of whatever we please (including tests)? What about walkie talkies to talk to friends in other classes?Obviously, no. These three things are the biggest uses for cell phones! I can say this because when I was in high school I had a cell phone, along with everyone else in my high school! I can tell you one thing, if my mom called me during school hours and I answered she would have taken it away from me before the teachers ever had the chance! There is NEVER a big enough emergency for students to have to call their parents in the middle of class! I can say this because I am a substitute teacher and will also be student teaching next fall. I have seen the “emergencies” claimed by students and parents for them to use cell phones during class. Mommy and Daddy not being able to pick them up at the end of school is NOT an emergency. Kids I love you all, but please wake up on this issue! As for cell phones helping during school shootings or terrorist attacks: yeah right! How do you think talking on the phone to parents/friends/whatever is going to help the situation? Rather than being able to crouch in a corner of the room being totally silent with all lights turned off (to appear that noone is in the room) we are going to have 30 students crying their eyes out with cell phones ringing off the hook! That would actually get the entire class killed faster! I hate to put it this way, but having no cell phones in school is actually SAFER than having them. Have you ever seen a small issue go between 10 or 20 female adolescents? I have (I am a 21 year old girl; it was not that long ago!). The only thing that happens is the more people they talk to, the larger the problem gets and the less they actually think! Don’t get me wrong, not all cell phone use is bad. I just think they belong before and after school. There is NO VALID reason for students to carry them with them during school hours. It is too much of a risk for students and teacher. As for parents needing to reach their children, call the office. The office HAS to allow you to speak to your child if it is an emergency. If it is not, they will gladly take a message!

My school district in Idaho has implemented the no cell phone/i-pod policy that phones cannot be used from 8:30 am (when our school starts) till 3:30 pm (when school ends). In my district, each high school has the same lunch time consisting of a 40 minute break. This is our downtime. I see no problem being able to use cell phones during our free lunch time. Now, here’s how the school policy goes. 1st time a student is caught with their phone on school grounds between 8:30 and 3:30; they have to pick it up in the office at the end of the day. 2nd time it is taken away, a parent has to pick it up. The 3rd time, results in suspension and confiscation of phone until June-the end of the school year. The school has overstepped our personal right to our property by taking it.

I would like to purpose these rules. Students are limited to hall passes each trimester or semester and must have a pass to use in the hallways. If a student goes to the bathroom-they have 5 minutes. If they go anywhere else in the school to another teacher or whatever, that teacher needs to verify the time the student came to see them and the time they sent them back to class. If this is violated then the student shall receive detention. That way you can guarantee they aren’t spending time with phones, if caught using phone during this hall pass time, give them suspension. So now, students should not have phones during class or passing period because it is a distraction and it is rude to the teacher. In this case, phones and or i-pods shall be confiscated and can be picked up in the main office at the end of the day. During lunch should be acceptable for the use of cell phones and i-pods because during lunch we are not disruptions the learning process.

This is a basic overview of the things floating around my head. Comment back.

Very rarely is the cell phone the life saving device for children. An emergency is only a true emergency if a life is threatened. Cell phones are a convenience. I have always told my children if there is an emergency, call 911 from a land line. It is much quicker to reach help. In an emergency, you could lose a life by choosing to call 911 from the cell, rather than the old fashion land line.(if one is available) Cell phones provide children with an unnecessary and dangerous amounts of privacy. Cell phones keep kids from being active and texting can become addictive. Cell phones need to be restrictive to children.

i’m writing a paper(essay) over cell phobne should turn off during class on why should i……..i need you to help me on cllecting sources…urgent.

i’m writing a paper(essay) over cell phobne should turn off during class on why should i……..i need you to help me on cllecting sources…urgent.

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