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Protest over cell phone ban continues

Author: Tanangachi Mfuni

Mfuni, Tanangachi. “Protest over Cell Phone Ban Continues.” New York Amsterdam News, vol. 97, no. 19, 4 May 2006, p. 3. EBSCOhost,

As high school students took to the streets of Brooklyn on Tuesday for the second time in less than a month to protest a citywide rule banning cell phones in public schools, they got seeming support from an unlikely source.

The city's teachers' union passed a resolution this week, stating each school should be allowed to create and enforce their individual cell phone policy, rather than be subject to the Department of Education's blanket policy.

"Whereas, this Administration pays lip service to empowering administration and staff to maintain orderly schools, but does not trust them to deal with incidents of cell phone abuse; be it resolved, that in lieu of banning the possession of student cell phones outright, each school develop and enforce a policy prohibiting cell phone use by students in the school building," reads the resolution adopted unanimously by the approximately 90 members of the United Federation of Teachers' (UFT) executive board May 1.

Krystle Guejuste, the junior at the Secondary School for Law, Journalism and Research arrested with four students in the April 12 walkout she helped organize, received the union's show of support warily.

"I believe that there's a negative and positive to that," said Guejuste, who led students from her secondary school to the Department of Education's regional superintendent offices on Livingston Street last Tuesday.

"Putting the power into the schools' hands is a good thing, but it's also a negative thing because the schools won't be getting the same treatment all around the board," said Guejuste, joined by dozens of protesters from her Trust Us student coalition as well as members of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, who have stood in support of the students.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference hours before Tuesday's demonstration, "I don't think that any responsible person can make the case that iPods and Blackberrys and cell phones and other electronic devices should be in the classroom when our teachers are working as hard as they possibly can to teach our children what they're supposed to know."

While teachers' union president Randi Weingarten agrees cell phones are a distraction and should be banned from school buildings, she also argues they are a vital means of communication between students and their guardians.

"Cell phones are a lifeline for many parents and students. We agree with the prohibition of cell phone use in buildings, but we need to have a balance."

The Department of Education has shown little leniency on the matter.

"We're sympathetic to the concerns of parents," said DOE spokesperson Alicia Maxey, "But our experience is that if cell phones are allowed into schools, they will be used. And when they are, whether for talking or messaging or taking photos, they inevitably interrupt the school's learning environment."


By Tanangachi Mfuni, Amsterdam News Staff

DMU Timestamp: February 03, 2020 23:30

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