Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Where There's a Will...

Imagine kids paying bodega owners $1-2 a day for the service of storing their cell phones. Imagine them burying their phones in nearby flower beds and vacant lots. Imagine them taping their cell phones under subway benches before going to school.

Well, you don't have to imagine, because that's what's happening all over the city as a result of the cell phone ban. It's particularly curious since most kids say they use the phones to keep in touch with their parents. Doubtless many kids have other things in mind, but when my kid gets a phone, I'll pay the bill, I'll see the bill, and if I don't like what I see, there will be no more phone.

It's almost inconceivable that anyone who spent 9/11 in NYC fails to see the value of cell phones for kids, but it's gone completely over the heads of both Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein. What do they say?

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education, Dina Paul Parks, said she could not comment on what students do outside of school. Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. of Queens, an opponent of the ban, called the underground market for storage "unfortunate."

Although his opposition to the ban stems from safety concerns, Mr. Vallone said was adamant that city policy should "not involve negotiations between an 8-year-old and a bodega owner."

Mr. Vallone also said he was worried that the ban teaches students to ignore authority. "It's like prohibition," he said. "We're raising a generation of smugglers."

Smuggling brings to mind prohibition, which did not work out all that well. Furthermore, properly used and properly supervised cellphones pose far less danger than alcohol. I'm willing to monitor their use in my classroom, and the simple fact is I'll be doing so whether or not there's a ban. They are ubiquitous, far more so than the speakeasies of yore.

Mayor Bloomberg may as well ban snow. I've no doubt he'd make me drive to work in it regardless.
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