From the New York Post --
CELLPHONES VS. SAFETY
By MARC EPSTEIN
THE hilarious image of Alicia Silverstone walking and chatting with
two of her friends on cellphones as they stroll side by side in the
school hallway in the movie "Clueless" is forever etched in my memory
in sharp contrast to the eruption of violence that cells have visited
upon our high schools.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has banned students from bringing cell
phones and electronic devices into our schools. His reasons are sound:
Phones going off in class lead to disruptions and confrontations with
teachers. Pre-paid cell phones are frequently stolen, and have led to
a spike in school-related thefts, and text messaging has figured in
cheating incidents. Cells also facilitate gang activity in and around
Unfortunately, enforcement is all but impossible. The confiscation and
vouchering of hundreds of cell phones is a bureaucratic nightmare
requiring a full-time staff and a large safe. I can personally attest
to that fact that confiscating a phone from a student can result in
Then there's the parents who usually tell the deans at our school,
"Since 9/11, I want my child to have a phone." With parental support
running against us, what are we to do?
This new technology has overtaken any system of regulations we have in
place. A defiant student has little to fear from a suspension, and no
school administrator wants to see cell-phone possession rise to the
level of a criminal offense.
Once again, the business of educating is being disrupted by an
unforeseen development that few would have predicted. Perhaps the best
way to ensure the sanctity of our "cathedrals of learning" is to equip
them with cell-phone jamming devices. Prohibition wasn't the answer
for alcohol, and it won't be the answer for cell phones.
The Department of Education is slated to inaugurate a $5 million
program to train teachers to handle "cyber-bullying" in schools, with
$4 million provided by the federal government. For my money, the
chancellor should skip the sensitivity training and work on getting
cell-phone providers to make these devices useless in our schools once
and for all.
Marc Epstein is a dean of students at Jamaica HS.
Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings, Inc.
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