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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mayor de Blasio Announced New Cell Phone Policy For NYC Public Schools - Roosevelt Island's Principal Explains PS/IS 217 Cell Phone Policy

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday the lifting of ban on cell phones

Image From RobertLovesPi

 in NYC public schools.

I asked Principal Mandana Beckman how the new cell phone policy will be implemented at Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217.

 Image Of Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217

Principal Beckman answered:
Our policy is students are not permitted to have a cell phone on their body. All cell phones must be turned off and kept in their lockers for middle school students and in their back packs for elementary school students. Should a student need to contact their parent or a parent needs to contact their child they must do this via the school phones.
According to Mayor di Blasio's office:
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the City will lift the ban on cell phones at schools, a policy affecting all 1.1 million students. The change will better enable parents to stay in touch with their children, especially before and after school. It will also end the inequity under the current ban, which was enforced mostly at schools with metal detectors in low-income communities.

The existing Chancellor’s Regulation bans cell phones and other electronic devices like iPads from school property. Students are required to leave their cell phones at home or leave them outside the building, often incurring a daily charge for private storage that can cost a family on average $180 each year.

The reform announced today lifts the ban, and, if approved by the Panel for Educational Policy in February, will take effect in all schools on March 2. It allows for each school’s principal to consult with School Leadership Teams in developing a cell phone policy tailored for the unique needs of their students. As part of the change, schools will increase education and training to identify and prevent cyber-bullying, including a “Misuse It, You Lose It” policy.

“Parents should be able to call or text their kids. That’s something Chirlane and I felt ourselves when Chiara took the subway to high school in another borough each day, and we know it’s a sentiment parents across this city share. Lifting the ban respects families, and it will end the unequal enforcement that has penalized students at so many high-needs schools. We are giving educators the tools and the flexibility to make this change responsibly,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Lifting the cell phone ban is about common sense, while ensuring student safety as well as high-level learning in our classrooms,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “As a parent and a grandmother, I know that families and children feel safer when our students have access to cell phones. I also know that it’s simply not fair that members of school communities without metal detectors are more likely to have that sense of comfort than other families and students. With today’s changes, we are demonstrating our commitment to student safety and community concerns, as well as our respect for principals, as we allow them to develop a cell phone policy that best addresses their individual school’s unique challenges and circumstances.”

The new changes would remove cell phones and electronic communication devices from the list of banned items in schools, and create a new regulation, A-413, that specifically governs their use in school. Under the new regulation, principals will consult with School Leadership Teams in deciding among a range of options for their schools, depending on what they feel best meets the needs of their students, families and educators. In the coming weeks, schools will receive guidance on how to create an appropriate use policy. Among the options are:
  • Store mobile devices in backpacks or a designated location during the school day
  • Allow mobile devices to be used during lunch or in designated areas only
  • Allow mobile devices for instructional purposes in some or all classrooms
For schools that do not develop a written cell phone policy promptly, the default will be a policy that allows students to bring cell phones into the building, but requires that the school or students store the phones out of sight for the duration of the school day. All cell phone policies must prohibit the use of cell phones during examinations, as well as during internal emergency preparedness drills and exercises, and be consistent with the DOE’s Discipline Code. Schools will have a range of options for discipline in cases where cell phones are misused, including confiscation.

... The proposed changes to the Chancellor’s Regulations must be approved by the Panel for Educational Policy. These changes will be voted on at the Panel’s February 25 meeting.
Click here for full statement.

Also, PS/IS 217 will be the location for January 12 Manhattan Community Board 8's Youth & Education Committee meeting  featuring a discussion of the Gifted & Talented Program.


YetAnotherRIer said...

Many schools already had the policy "out of sight, out of mind" even though that violated chancellor's regulations. I am glad that kids are now allowed to have a phone in their backpacks. It's now up to the schools (and the parents) to make sure that kids are not using it during the school day.

CheshireKitty said...

These devices are becoming ubiquitous - some schools issue tablets to students. I think the ban will one day be lifted. If students have absorbed the required material, they will pass their exams - many of which do not allow open books. If they have not learned the material, then they will fail the test.

The message should be drummed into them that despite the helpfulness of the devices, they still need to be able to solve problems, write essays, prove they have learned what has been conveyed to them in the classroom etc. If they have not paid attention to what was taught in the classroom because they were instead paying attention to their devices, that will be evident in their failing grades, and the subsequent consequence of possibly less chance of advancement.

If a student can pay attention to the device, and never pay attention to the teacher, and still pass the final exam, then it's analogous to students who either day-dream/doodle/look out the window in class who still do well in school.

It should just be made clear to the kids that if they are not learning - as measured by testing - the material because they are instead absorbed or diverted by their devices, the truth of a failing grade in the end will be very bitter, and certainly not appreciated by their parents when they see the failing grades on the kid's report card.

So, I don't think there's any way to stop the "march of progress" if you will. Just as in the past, with day-dreaming in class or watching TV while reading or doing homework, if kids can actually learn and still be glued to their devices, that is fine. If the distraction though leads to failing grades, the consequences of those grades - such as letting down their families and possibly screwing up their own future - must be conveyed to the students. This scenario must be conveyed to the students in a nice way - they can have the devices or otherwise not pay attention to what is going on in class. No-one can really make them pay attention. However, there is an increased probability of a failing grade if no "work" is put into school work, or no attention is paid in class - if they want to take that risk, they should know what the possible long-term consequences may be in addition to the disappointment of their families etc.