Saturday, May 06, 2006

Showing my age

I consider school to be a reasonably safe environment. Typically there will be a few fights, but on the whole, it's not a place where you're afraid for your child's safety or well being.

I also consider school to be a place for education and social development.

I think that when children are in school, they need to focus on school. If parents need to get ahold of their students to pass on messages, they call the office and leave a message that will get to the student.

Because of this, I understand and agree with the determination that Cell phones ought not be used in schools by students.

Currently, there is a push in New York City by parents to try to get approval for students to keep their cell phones during the school day (whether or not a 15 year old needs a cell phone is a completely different story). One argument, forwarded by City Councilwoman Letitia James is that the students should be able to keep them, so long as they're turned off. "Quite simply, this is a safety issue ... it's a safety issue we have to resolve," she said in this article. Now, I'm not so sure how this ability to keep a cell phone that's turned off can help in emergencies if the students are in class and the PHONE IS TURNED OFF so they can't get the message, but I'm not the expert here. The school board points to other "nefarious" uses of the phones, such as using them to cheat on tests or to take inappropriate photos in the locker rooms.

While I'm somewhat sympathetic, though disagree with, the safety argument, I can't bring myself to agree with the idea that searching for and confiscating cell phones during the school day amounts to a civil rights violation. From the article above: "'We talk about schools as prisons in this city,' said Cecilia Blewer, a parent of two. 'They're being acculturated to accept prison conditions. What I Want to know is how they're teaching civics with a straight face any more. How would they explain the arbitrary searches and invasion of privacy?'

Well, actually, there's a limited right of privacy in a school, and if policy is against the possession of cell phones and there's a reasonable belief that students have cell phones, then searches are reasonable. That's how one might explain it.

And when all else fails, there's my son's favorite argument, "That's not fair!" Again, from the article: "'The teachers still use their cell phones and the kids can't,' said 15-year-old Ellia Munoz, a ninth-grader in Manhattan. 'They don't have to take the cell phones. They can just see them turned off.'" Because we all know that teenagers who turn a phone off can't POSSIBLY turn it back on again.

1 comment:

Cassie said...

"'The teachers still use their cell phones and the kids can't,' said 15-year-old Ellia Munoz, a ninth-grader in Manhattan
I love this. You know teenagers will do anything to get out of actually learning what teachers are teaching but they will think for hours to come up with something that's not "fair".