Backstory: 'Ringing' in the School Year ; New York City Fights over Whether to Allow Cellphones in Schools, Echoing a Debate Nationwide

By Maia RidbergCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 18, 2006 | Go to article overview

Backstory: 'Ringing' in the School Year ; New York City Fights over Whether to Allow Cellphones in Schools, Echoing a Debate Nationwide


Maia RidbergCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


The cellphone has become the ultimate emblem of today's teenager - as much an appendage as an electronic device. Just ask Nathan Bixler, a 16-year-old senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York. Nathan frequently babysits his siblings and needs to know - often during the school day - whether he'll be on duty.

That's fine with Eleanor Roth, a substitute teacher in New York, provided those arrangements aren't made while she's teaching English. She's heard it all in class: loud rings, boisterous conversations, the ubiquitous giggles. On a recent Friday, five students were laughing hysterically in the back of the room. She marched toward them. "They were crowded around a cellphone displaying a video," she says.

Nathan and Ms. Roth represent the electron and proton of New York's Great Cellphone Debate. When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) began enforcing an 18-year-old ban on communications devices in public schools this spring, it touched off a small civil war.

Within a month, the school system became the unproud owner of more than 3,000 phones - all confiscated from students who walked through metal detectors placed randomly at schools across the city.

Outraged parents marched on City Hall. Kids acted as if they had been deprived of a constitutional right, or, worse, told to clean up their rooms. Most teachers, though believing schools should set such policies on their own, at least empathized with the rationale for the mayor's move: Finally, someone was talking about one of their chief complaints in the classroom.

Since then, the furor has subsided in the hallways, but the issue has hardly disappeared. A group of parents filed a lawsuit against the mayor, school chancellor, and the New York City Department of Education seeking to overturn the ban. Supporters of chatter-free schools seem unlikely to back off. "There is no constitutional right to disrupt a student's education," says Keith Kalb, an Education Department aide.

At City Hall, several council members are pushing for a legislative solution. If these efforts fail, the issue may end up in Albany. "I think the mayor just made a snap decision...," says State Sen. Tom Duane (D), a critic of the ban.

***

New York's tempest in a dial tone is hardly unique. Schools at all levels are struggling to cope with the technology's encroachment in the classroom. On the one hand, most high-tech accouterments - from the laptop to the Internet - are opening up unprecedented opportunities for learning. But they can also be distracting or worse, if cheating, crime, or indelicate videos are involved. Laptops are increasingly banned from university classrooms by professors who want to stop students from incessant surfing.

Cellphones, to be sure, are different. Even though they're becoming computers in a palm, they're still mainly used for communication. Along with their proliferation - Americans spent 1.7 trillion minutes on cellphones last year - it has become increasingly difficult for families, particularly kids, to part with them. Ever.

Part of the concern in New York is safety. Alex Newman recalls how his older sister went to high school a few blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11. "That's when they [my parents] got her a cellphone," he says. Mindy Gerbush, the parent of a recent high school graduate, agrees. "I lived through 9/11 with my son," she says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Backstory: 'Ringing' in the School Year ; New York City Fights over Whether to Allow Cellphones in Schools, Echoing a Debate Nationwide
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.