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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, April 30, 2006

The great NYC cell phone ban

Not in a New York City school you don't

Bloomberg tone-deaf to cell phones

"They're not bringing them into school!" he was quoted saying.

He suggested that parents could call the school if there was an emergency, which they would generally do anyway when classes are in session. He did not address those times when city kids are taking public transportation between home and school. A London-style subway bombing during the morning rush could strand tens of thousands of schoolkids, panicked and unable to reach parents who were also in transit.

The attack on the World Trade Center began shortly after classes began, but the schools nearest the twin towers were evacuated. These included the High School for Economics and Finance, where the phones were ringing off the hook with calls from terrified parents. Two secretaries, Kathleen Gilson and Joan Trutneff, courageously volunteered to stay.

"No way," the principal, Patrick Burke, told them.

The secretaries left with the principal and the phones rang unanswered in an empty building as the students and staff fled. A 15-year-old sophomore from Brooklyn named Simone Press took out a cell phone she had brought to school even though it had been confiscated once as contraband. She managed to get through to her mother, Rise Press.

"I could hear her running and screaming down the block," the mother later told Daily News reporter Alison Gendar. "She said, 'Mom, people are jumping out of windows. Mom, there are body parts everywhere.'"

In the immediate aftermath, what was still called the Board of Education considered scrapping the ban on cell phones and simply requiring they be turned off. The matter was referred to a committee for study and the result was that the ban remained in force.

As a result, the renamed Department of Education begins each school day telling itself that it operates with less sway over its students than your basic movie theater exercises over its patrons. No metal detectors are positioned at cinema entrances and most patrons do not even need a prompting to turn off their cell phones.

During the afternoon showing of "United 93" at the Battery Park Stadium 11, nary a cell phone was heard to ring among the audience. The only cell phones in evidence were those being used up on the screen by the ill-fated passengers.

As true as anything else in that movie is the desperate need to connect with your loved ones in the face of terror. A reminder of the very real threat we continue to face came to the patrons departing the Battery Park cinema who gazed across West St. to the pit known as Ground Zero.

The man who ordered that attack is still at large and is no doubt plotting at this very moment to perpetrate a new horror upon us. Our schoolkids need to be able to communicate with their families as they travel through this bull's-eye called the City of New York.


But, when he adds cell phones to the list, he mars his moral authority with authoritarianism. He should chat with the kids who ride the subway with him each weekday and ask why our school system cannot impress upon them a lesson of simple courtesy taught in every movie theater

This is going to result in tragedy one day. All you need is a school shooting, forget terrorism, even a fire, and you could create panic which could be avoided if kids could use their phones to call home.

The city is headed for litigation over this, when common sense would suffice. Kisd should have access to cells for emergencies.If they answer them in class, then unless someone died, they should lose the right to use them in school.

But without the ability to communicate, and Mike Daly is not exagurating, you could really create needless tension.

Today is a perfect day, cloudless sky, 67 and sunny. You know what we call those days
in New York. 9/11 days.

The kids need access to phones, for peace of mind if nothing else.

posted by Steve @ 2:08:00 PM

2:08:00 PM

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