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Opinion: Lifting Cell Phone Ban Could Help Poorer Students

Opinion: Lifting Cell Phone Ban Could Help Poorer Students

Many may be troubled after hearing that New York City is moving forward with a plan to lift a ban on cell phones in schools, but maybe low-income schools should take a closer look.

New York City’s public school district is getting ready to “scrap a controversial policy forbidding it 1.1 million students from having cell phones on campus,” said writer Alia Wong on TheAtlantic.com. But, “the thing is, plenty of student are already ignoring the ban.”

“It turns out some of the poorest kids in the city are the ones who will notice the change most,” Wong said. The decision to lift the ban, “was prompted by safety concerns.”

“Mobile phones aren’t just for snapchatting but a way for kids to let parents know where they are,” Wong said. “And with teen cellphone ownership rates so high, an ongoing ban increasingly seemed impractical—if not impossible. Civil rights activists call the move inevitable and long overdue.”

Still, Wong said, “for most of New York City’s 1,800 or so public schools, the ban on cellphones is little more than a line in the district’s discipline code.”

“The out-of-sight, out-of-mind rule doesn’t appear to be in force at most schools,” she said. “When discussing his plan in September to axe the policy, Mayor Bill de Blasio even acknowledged that his son Dante brings his cellphone to his school, Brooklyn Technical High.”

In fact, Wong said, “some New York City teachers rely on student cellphones as tools in the classroom to help with tasks such as research projects.”

“And the conundrum reveals one of the myriad realities in education that could be setting poor kids further back,” she said. “It also renews debates about the value of digital devices—from cellphones to tablets—in the classroom and whether they can actually enhance, rather than detract from, student learning.”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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