Southern Brooklyn

Fidler Leads Fight To Lift Cell Phone Ban In Schools

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City Councilman Lew Fidler penned a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott last week demanding the abolition of the public school cell phone ban, which has been in place since 2006.

The letter, backed by 47 of the Council’s 51 members, called the rule “out of touch” and “possibly discriminatory,” stating that the rule is mostly enforced in schools that use metal detectors, which happen to be in poorer areas, while prestigious schools are not affected. Parents have also been critics of the ban, particularly those with children who have long commutes.

The ban has also been criticized for taking money out of lower income student’s pockets, who pay $1 a day to store their phones in mobile trucks or local bodegas. The $5 per week can add up for lower income students, while the mobile trucks make an estimated $4.2 million per year. The Department of Education has opposed efforts to implement in-school storage facilities, arguing that the liability to store thousands of phones is too high.

The four members of Council who opposed the bill and the Education department have yet to comment on the letter.

– Justin Santoro

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  1. Before Mr. Fidler pushes this idea any further, he should stand for a day, in front of thirty, fourteen year olds, in a classroom, who have access to their cell phones! In my experience, these gadgets are essentially TOYS, to mostly anyone, under Twenty-Five!

  2. I agree with the ban.  Can you imagine the distractions if kids had cell phones in class?  None of them would pay attention, and the poor teachers would bear the brunt.

  3. and you thought the US was ranked 27th in the world in education is bad with cell phones banned, can you imagine what the US will be ranked with no ban?

  4. As if teachers don’t have enough problems already.  A misguided effort by an out of touch with reality council.

  5. Back when i was kid, we didn’t have cell phones…..and life was Great.

    However, i gotta agree with Fidler, if the child is walking home from school and see’s a rape, bullying, attack with a knife, i’m sure they would pick up their cell phone and call 911 Right AWAY!

    If kids do that, then i don’t see why we should take that away from them.

    If Parents buy Iphones for their children, they can Block games on them and put security, so kids won’t be able to open them up during school.

  6. I understand the problem with cell phones in school but if you have a teen who’s independent and traveling by themselves it’s the only way to stay in touch when there’s  a change in plans or when something unexpected comes up.  It’s unrealistic to simply ban them. Maybe stiffer penalties for using one in school would be an effective detriment.

  7. i wouldnt mind seeing the ban lifted as long as you give the teacher absolute authority to punish a kid using a cellphone in class.  No bullshit, no political correct excuses, no wimpy ideological workarounds, no screaming parents backing up  their child, threatening lawsuits for “emotional damage”.

       Caught using the cellphone? First time some kind of demerit, second time suspended. If the community lacks the stomach for that (and of course the parents do lack), then the ban should stay.

    I understand a parent’s concern, their child not having the phone in case of emergency. But there’s got to be an absolute “no use in class” policy.

  8. My wife and I sent both of our sons on two city buses to school everyday and would not allow them to leave the home without a cell phone. We have taught most people to turn their cell phones off when they enter a movie theater. Cellphones are not going away and pretending they don’t exist won’t and hasn’t worked. We can teach kids that there is a time and place. It might take a while but soon enough we can teach kids that the phones go off when they enter school property. Learned the same lesson when I was 8 about my baseball cards—out of sight except during lunch hour or they were taken from me….and I didn’t need my baseball cards for my personal safety!
    The current don’t ask don’t tell policy at non metal detector schools encourages disrespect for rules.
    Time to move into the 21st century here. The calculator replaced the abacus. Cell phones have replaced pay phones.
    Let’s teach kids their proper usage.
    And let’s do it befoer the next Leiby Kletzky-like episode.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  9. As someone who has taught in a school without metal detectors, I can say without hesitation that cell phones are the single biggest distraction in classrooms today. If cell phones are allowed in school buildings, then there needs to be a strictly enforced, zero-tolerance policy for cell phone use. Have it out in class, it gets confiscated for the day. Refuse to hand it over and you are suspended immediately. Second offense, it is confiscated until your parents come in to get it. Unfortunately, this will never happen. 

  10. When I was at Murrow, there was never a day where metal detectors were in place, which i believe is so wrong. I do not know about now, but I agree that cell phones, especially smart phones, are a huge distraction not just in school, but in theater, music, and other performance venues. It is really annoying to see someone texting or surfing the web while other people are teaching or performing. Parents’ concerns over “emergencies” is a weak argument being that not much can be done while their children are at school. If something bad happens during the day, what do you expect them to do, run out of the classroom in the middle of a lesson? The ban should be lifted as long as anyone caught using a phone in school is punished properly.

  11. The quicker Councilmember Fidler leaves public life, the better off most of us will be. This bill is anti-education.

  12. The real solution can be found at It is called the classroom protocol and allows the teacher ultimate control of all phones in the classroom except for 911 always remains active. This provides the teacher to use the phone as a tool when desired and the ability to sleep all phones when giving an exam.

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