Friday, November 02, 2007

Mayor Bloomberg Wants To Give Students Cell Phones

Remember Mayor Bloomberg's war against cell phones in the public schools?

Remember how Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein refused to listen to parents implore him to overturn the ban on students carrying cell phones in public schools?

Remember how he vetoed a city council bill that gave students permission to carry, though not use, cell phones in schools (just in case they need to talk to mom or dad in an emergency)?

Remember how the city council overrode his veto 46-2 back in September, but Mayor Bloomberg said "Nahh, nahh, I don't have to enforce your stupid bill!!!"?

Well, I remember, and I have to tell you that I was quite surprised today to read in the NY Times that Mayor Bloomberg plans to give cell phones away to students as rewards for good grades.

The giveaway will part of the mayor's "merit" program that pays students for achievement and doles out "school-wide bonuses" to teachers based on standardized test scores.

The mayor, not often given to noticing irony in his proposals and policies, sees no contradiction in his proposing to give students free cell phones if they get good grades but guaranteeing confiscation of them if they carry them into their schools.

Luckily other people get the irony:

Councilman Lewis A. Fidler, who sponsored a bill to try to loosen the cellphone ban by requiring schools to allow students to carry phones to and from school, said the proposal was “almost funny.”

“The fact that they even would think that this might be a powerful incentive for students is delicious,” Mr. Fidler said. “It’s a clear indication that people at a level below the mayor and the chancellor realize that this is a vital piece of technology.”

Yes, a cell phone IS a vital piece of technology these days, especially after 9/11 when we learned that it is important parents be able to contact their children wherever they may be.

I can understand why Bloomberg doesn't want students to use cell phones in schools, but I have to tell you, I have never had a problem with kids and their cell phones.

Whenever I see a kid using his cell phone in class, I simply ask the student to please put the cell phone away.

He or she has always complied with my request.

I know occasionally kids give teachers a hard time over cell phone use, but by and large most kids know they're not supposed to be using the phones in school and put them away when asked.

So come on Mr. Mayor, why not comply with the overwhelming wishes of parents, students and city council members and allow students to carry cell phones in school?

I mean, you can't offer a cell phone to a student as reward for achievement and then not actually let him or her carry it.
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