Streams

To Ban or Not to Ban Cellphones? Mixed Signals

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 03:54 PM

WNYC

Comments poured in following SchoolBook's report on cellphone use in the city's schools. During a WNYC radio segment on Thursday, listeners, including many SchoolBook users, debated the role cellphones can play in the classroom. Listen to the conversation.

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.

You can add your comments here.

One listener wrote:

"School should be preparing students for real life—and in real life, people use cell phones. If you're making an artificial world inside the school, you're not preparing them for the real world." And a parent said her high school daughter puts vocabulary words on her phone "so she can study them while on her commute. If she is reading, she can also look up words she doesn't know."

But others took an absolute line against cellphones anywhere near a place of learning.

"No cell phone in school period!"
"What the heck is going on?? Technology is making everyone crazy!" one person said.

Another said:

"Children cannot be trusted to use fun gadgets with discretion. Ban them."

A teacher in Brooklyn weighed in with a different perspective. He said he uses a tool to send questions to his students on their phones and they text back the answers. The real-time polls are a big hit, he said. He wrote:

"I allowed them to use the phones a few times and they didn't fight me about putting them away other times. I just think it's important that we we start adapting to the technology that our students are absorbing at an incredible rate."

A parent and schools activist, Leonie Haimson, said the ban was "unfair and inequitable" because it's only enforced in schools with metal detectors. And she said it turns off prospective students like her son who wasn't keen to store his phone in a truck outside while he's in class.

Another parent agreed:

My son attends a high school where there is a metal detector and therefore the ban is enforced. I have no problem with cell phones not being allowed in ALL schools but the enforcement ONLY in poor/minority schools is a problem. As has been mentioned, why not have the phone jammers in ALL schools and let ALL students bring in their phones. I don't like the atmosphere caused by the metal detectors and wonder how effective their use is.

No comment yet from the Department of Education on whether the ban, or its varied enforcement, is under review.

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