Thursday, April 27, 2006

Joel Klein, a Cell Phone Ban, and Angry Parents

Elissa Gootman reports that the cell phone ban in New York City appears official. She takes the tact that parents are in an uproar about this issue. At first blush "City Schools Cut Parents' Lifeline" appears immaterial, but these parents like it or not have a point.

Joel Klein comments, "We all understand the concerns that parents are talking about, but I think they have to see it from our point of view ... There is always an enforcement issue, but the enforcement issue doesn't mean the policy is wrong. And obviously through the work we're doing now, I think that will improve enforcement." What exactly is the policy issue? Safety, cheating, drug related activity?

It's no surprise that parents who depend on the tick tick tick of their kids' mobile phones are distraught by a policy that forbids students to carry phones into the school, ergo, carring phones on the way to school and any place they go after school before arriving at home is out.

There's a solution here. Think back to preschool. Items that distracted kids were stowed in a cubby. I propose a similar idea. A cell phone check is in order, not unlike a coat check, or umbrella check. Kids will securely drop their cell phones off at the door of the schools (before the metal detectors) and pick them up on the way out. There are plenty of ways to make this work--think barcodes. If Klein is so committed to improving the safety of these kids he will have to come up with a compromise. Face it. Phones mean safety in today's world.


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