After last week’s announcement of the controversial school-wide cellphone ban lift, Ridgeites are weighing in on what it means for their children’s safety, what other options schools might consider, and whether or not they agree with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina’s decision.
The lift comes after eight years of backlash from parents and elected officials opposing the policy that prohibits cell phones and electronic communication devices such as iPhones and iPads inside schools.
Under the new regulation (A-413), these devices will no longer be banned from school buildings, and principals and their teams will decide for themselves what they will do in terms of regulating use—from storing the cell phones once students are inside the building to allowing the use of mobile devices for instructional purposes in some or all classrooms.
“Everybody is saying ‘it’s about time.’ For the upper grades and especially the high school kids, they travel to go to school. It’s not like they all go to their local high school,” said Laurie Windsor, Community Education Council President for District 20. “They take a bus, take a train, they travel to different boroughs and parents want to be in touch with their kids when they’re traveling.”
De Blasio mirrored Windsor’s thoughts on the matter, like many other parents with children who commute to school.
“When my daughter Chiara was in middle school, [my wife and I] saw the cell phone as something that was fundamental to our ability as parents to keep in touch with her, to make sure she was doing the right thing, and to make sure she was where she was supposed to be,” said de Blasio. “Then we saw our city government stand in the way of that.”
On the other side of the issue, opposing cell phones in schools, is Bay Ridge resident Mario Terranova.
“I don’t think cell phones should be in schools. Teachers should take care of it, if there is an emergency,” said Terranova. “I do not agree with our mayor.”
“I think so many generations went to school without cell phones,” commented Dean C. of Bay Ridge. “They don’t need them. It’s going to be used for texting, sexting or whatever it is they do.”
For schools that do not have any written rules regarding the cellphone policy, a default policy will be implemented that allows students to bring cell phones into the building, but requires that the school or students store the phones out of sight for the duration of the school day.
“I do feel this is a long time coming,” said Farina, stressing that the responsibility now lies in the hands of the students. “Our challenge [now] is to make sure that students understand that this is a privilege and not a God-given right, and use it responsibly or else.”