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April 27th, 2006
Yesterday, the Department of Education began random security scanning at city schools. Aside from the hassles – and the question of whether every school kid should be treated as a criminal – the scanners renew the debate over cell phones in the schools.
Department of Education policy bans cell phones, and students at schools with metal detectors — which tend to be poor and largely minority – have left their cell phones at home. But the random searches are casting a wider net, including prestigious schools such as Stuyvesant and LaGuardia high schools, where unofficial policy let kids have cell phones as long as they kept them stashed away during school hours.
That’s changed. “These scanners are much more inflammatory,” wrote Stuycom.net. “It’s not just Stuy protesting – it’s actually just about everyone at schools who have already had the scanners installed.”
“Cell phones are the urban parent’s umbilical cord, the lifeline connecting them to children on buses, emerging from subways, crisscrossing boroughs and traipsing through unknown neighborhood,” the Times reports. It goes on to quote Moira Kennedy, a psychiatrist with daughters at the Lab School and at Stuyvesant, who said the policy “shows a big lack of awareness of the essential nature of having a way to communicate with your child during the day.”
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has reportedly said parents concerned about their children can always call the school office, indicating he has probably never tried to do this. Gothamist says, “Ha! We’re sure the office workers will love that. If school officials want to keep this ban, they should at least give kids a chance to call or email their parents during the day. Or maybe parents should microchip their kids.”
The cell phone furor came as the Department of Education announced that Carmen Farińa, the top instructional official in the New York City public schools and a longtime teacher, principal and adminstrator, will retire.. “A beloved and at times feared administrator, she seemed to know everybody in the nation’s largest school system,’ The Times observed. “Some educators say she often provided a last defense against impractical ideas.”By Gail Robinson on April 27, 2006, 10:58 am
In category: Civil Rights, Education, Gotham City, Tech | 25 Comments »