I commend Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education for the zero tolerance policy in schools as it pertains to weapons and electronic devices that do not aid in the communication between parents and students. The ban on cell phones in schools however, has caused great concern among parents. Parents and children rely heavily on cell phones to communicate before, and after school for various reasons. They discuss times for pick-up, to inform them of changes to schedule, or to notify each other regarding their whereabouts once outside school Parents and guardians are also comforted in knowing that in case of an emergency their child can reach out to them.
The proliferation of cellular phones, their widespread use in our society and parents' concerns about their children's safety, are prompting new policies across the country. We live in an age of technology and there is no better place to teach the responsible use of these technologies than in our schools. New York City should set the standard for creating a policy that protects the educational honesty in schools and still allows for the possession of cell phones.
The ban on cell phones in New York City schools should be repealed and replaced with an acceptable cell phone policy. The guidelines set forth should demand that while in school cell phones be kept out of sight at all times. Cell phones should not be attached to belts or bags, but instead be placed inside a locker, backpack, or pocketbook. The concern of students utilizing text messaging and other functions on the phone to communicate during classes is valid. That is why there should be zero tolerance- once a cell phone is seen by either teachers or school administrators, the phone should be confiscated and a parent or guardian notified. Phone use will be restricted to outside the school building only. The policy should be complete and fair while addressing the increasing concern of parents for their children's wellbeing.
It is the responsibility of the government and its elected officials to develop policies that conform to advances in technology. We must meet each challenge presented by these advances with intelligence, integrity and resolve. It is important that parents are assured that their children remain safe while we are entrusted with their security.
New York City Councilmember Melinda Katz represents the 29th Councilmanic District in Forest Hills.