City Council members - plus public school students and their parents - are gearing up for a fight with the Mayor over the cell phone ban in public schools. Yesterday, the City Council held a hearing about the ban, eliciting a lot of City Council and public support for removing the ban, while the Bloomberg administration wants to stand firm. In April, the Department of Education started "surprise scans" at all high schools, which allowed security staff to check students bags. The scans are really used to locate weapons, but since cellphones have been banned since 1988, found phones have been confiscated. Some of the comments from the City Council:
- City Councilman Simcha Felder: "The cheating business used to do very very well for many years without cell phones."
- City Councilman Peter Vallone: "What we are doing today is ensuring the safety of our kids."
- And our favorite, from City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin: "When I went to Stuyvesant and none of us had cellphones. And people came from neighboring schools and tried to beat us up anyway."
Of course, that was in the old Stuyvesant days, when kids from Washington Irving High School would harrass Stuy kids walking eastward. Anyway, Deputy Mayor Derek Walcott told the City Council the Mayor would not move away from its policy. Take that from the Bloomberg "311 - it's all about information" Administration!
Some students testified that they don't use cellphones during school, but, please, for every kid who says they don't, there's another kid who does - and peer pressure to not use cellphones doesn't seem like it'll work. One student's argument that the scans violated their "right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, since a turned-off cellphone is not really threatening" is more compelling to us. You can't count the kids out, as they are stashing their cellphones on the way to school as well as downloading "silent" ring tones.