Monday, January 14, 2008

GBN News Editorial: Scanning and the Cell Phone Ban

January 14, 2008: There has been a great deal of controversy over Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on cell phones in schools, and his enforcement of the ban through the use of metal detector scanning. Besides the obvious need for cell phones to insure students’ safety while traveling to and from school, many parents and educators have objected to what they feel are disruptions to the school day brought about by metal scanning in the schools. However, in the interests of balance, we feel it is only fair to present the many benefits that NY City school children derive from the DOE cell phone ban and metal scanning policy. It is clear to us that the policy:

*Promotes physical health: Students are cooped up all day in stuffy classrooms. With scanning, students spend quality time outdoors, often in healthful, brisk, below freezing temperatures while waiting to go through the scanners.

*Promotes individual resourcefulness and experience in negotiating financial agreements: Many students make arrangements to store cell phones in bodegas for the day, making their own deals with local business people.

*Promotes physical exercise: Those who are unable to negotiate storage arrangements must dig holes to bury cell phones outside the schools, since the phones are legal to bring to school but not into the building.

*Stimulates students’ interest in politics: Students can follow along with the local legislative process, and see first hand how elected officials are able to defy the laws passed by their representatives (ie the City Council bill overturning the ban by a 46-2 margin). Students and their parents can even participate in a real live lawsuit against the ban.

*Deters crime by giving students the chance to experience an authentic “prison atmosphere”.

*Promotes intergenerational understanding and cooperation: Most parents and their children, whatever their conflicts and differences, agree whole heartedly on their opposition to the ban, and work together to find ways to keep the phones from being confiscated, ie staying home from school or sneaking them in past the scanners.

*Provides students with “hands on” experience in civil disobedience, and promotes understanding of the concept that there are unjust laws that can be ethically disobeyed.

*Lowers class size: DOE figures show that attendance is down from 10 – 20% on scanning days.

It is surprising that with all of the PR acumen possessed by the DOE and the Mayor, they have failed to adequately bring out the above points to the public. Perhaps they feel that it is enough to simply realize that the Mayor is always right, even when he is opposed on an issue by an overwhelming majority of the public. But this just points up an important educational benefit of Mayoral control of the schools. Students usually learn only from textbooks about forms of government different from our own democracy. But here in New York, they can see for themselves a real life, “textbook example” of how a dictatorship works. It is a lesson that they, and all of us, should learn from.


Anonymous said...

I don't think I would have published this under the GBN banner. This is a very true and accurate portrait of what is happening with commentary exactly to the point. Sadly, I don't see the satire.


Gary Babad said...

The satire is that this editorial purports to "support" the cell phone ban while, of course, giving precisely the reasons not to. But GBN does walk the fine line between satire and truth, and it is difficult to tell which is which at times.