Should Public Schools Continue To Bar Students From Carrying Cell Phones & Beepers?

Borderline IMHO, but in light of the most recent school shooting by Jeff Weise in Red Lake (do you really need a cite?) - the shockwaves have even reached the NYC Schools.

Though the story points out the current ban (in place since the beeper age) isn’t strictly enforced - and more of an “out of sight, out of mind” policy regulation - it does pose a debatable point:

Student Safety vs Instruction Interruptions: Would having a cell phone that has to be turned off during class hours anyway really make students safer or is it just a way of giving nervous parents peace-of-mind?

How would a student carrying a cellphone have made them any safer? And a pager? I suppose you could hope that a bullet would hit the pager and be stopped.

It seems that, for some reason, these parents are confusing the ability to call your child after hearing of a problem with the ability to keep your child safe.

I think that being able to teach and learn in a disruption free environment trumps being able to call little Suzy AFTER a potential (and extremely rare) problem.

In our schools there has been a strict no cellphone rule. A few months ago the high school was locked down when the robber of a bank up the street fled into an apartment complex next door. From what my daugher said, a lot of people pulled out cellphones to tell parents what was happening, and no one was punished. The school is considering removing the restriction.

The rule was put into place not to stop disruptions but to discourage a perceived use of beepers for drug dealing. That was long before cellphones became so prevalent. Cellphone use in class is far easier to detect and stop than note passing. Between classes I see no problem. The safety aspect is in that a kid trapped in the school even after the crisis is over can tell parents that she’s safe, and can call 911 and give information during a crisis.

I don’t see any reason to ban them anymore.

There are restrictions for cell phone’s at several of the schools my company does business with. Basically the school policy is that there should be NO cell phones or beepers on campus. In actuality, students are mostly just restricted from using them (or having calls come in) during class…something I think is a reasonable thing to do, especially in light of text messaging and such, or Bluetooth wireless headphones that can be concealed and remotely access the phones (yeah, for supposedly poor kids they have more advanced equipment than I do in many cases…and a lot of them have a better grasp of how they work than I do too, for all I’m a network engineer :)).

So, to answer the OP, I think the restriction on cell phones/beepers should be for use during class. Anyone caught using them during class could get a reasonable punishment accompanied by the confiscation of the device. Outside of class I don’t see the harm.


Though admittedly not an Earth-shattering issue, I have a feeling any change to the students with cell phones policy is gonna come down to who has the political power.

Will parents have the ban overturned or amended? I guess it depends on how strongly they as a group feel about it.

Will the students have a say? Probably not - They have no political power.

Will the teacher’s unions use their cloat to keep the ban in effect? That’s where I’d put my money.

A lot of school districts have relaxed this, facing the reality that kids need to be in touch with parents AFTER school. Kids that stay after for activities are left standing waiting for a pay phone, or face discipline. There are just so many reasons to…see reason here. Our district bans their posession IN CLASS, but allows them to be brought to school and left in lockers or in backpacks. So long as they are not used during the day and do not cause a distraction in class, they’re ok.

I think a ban on cell phones is unreasonable these days. I don’t have any problem restricting their use during school hours though. For example no making calls in the hallways between classes, etc.


In our district the teachers union was too busy trying to get a decent contract to waste their power on this. I haven’t heard many teachers complaining about phones - it is not hard to prevent usage in class.

The ban got passed when pagers and phones were rare and expensive and the perception was that only druggies had them. The ban got reversed 3 years ago in California linky with no ill efects as far as I’ve heard. This doesn’t force schools to allow them, but, as I said, they are not de facto okay. I’m not sure if my district has a ban or not, but my daughter takes hers, as does her friends, with no ill effects. When I was on the high school site council, before the ban was lifted, the principal, who was hard-assed about lots of things, had not problem with kids having them.

Pretty much a non-issue in civilized parts of the world.

The problem with banning cell phones from the school building is that they are then necessarily also banned on the commute to and from school. I live in NYC, my kids go to high school, and it’s a rare high school age kid who rides the big yellow bus to school- if they even exist now that the public high schools aren’t zoned. That’s why my kids have cell phones.Not because of anything that might happen during school, but because of what might happen on the commute . There are fewer working pay phones than there used to be, my kids don’t attend school within anything close to walking distance, and if there was no bus or train service, they might not have any idea what to do. I want to point out that my daughter started high school in Manhattan in Sept 2002, a time when the memory of my sister walking from downtown up to the 59st Bridge and then into Queens because there was no other way out of Manhattan was still kind of fresh. I suspect the cell phone issue is probably much bigger in places where students commonly take public transportation to school.

Kids are allowed to have cell phones at the high school where I teach, and it really isn’t a problem: they aren’t allowed to use them during class, and clandestine texting (they can touch-text, so it can be pretty clandestine) is a problem, but it isn’t really any different than hardcopy note passing.

In many ways it’s easier to coordinate kids for before nad after school activities when they all have cell phones–if I need to hunt someone down I always can, and I’ve been known to call kids I knew were ditching school and telling them to get their butts into my classroom. Probably 85% of my students (17 years old) have cell phones, across all socio-economic lines.

One thing that has to be established early on is that phones do get stolen, lost, and broken at school, and the school can’t be responsible.

Certainly today the notion that only druggies have cell phones is absurd.

None-issue. For communication purposes within the classroom, I can just as easily set up my TI calculator to send messages out in the open. Many kids who don’t use this method use their phones anyway because of the IM features - it is not something hard to conceal. Topped with security issuses, before and after school, and any of the other things it might be used for, there’s little need in strictly banning them.

I much prefer out of sight out of mind, although I think you should be allowed to carry them in the open if you can’t fit it in a pocket.

Wow! How is that possible?
I know my parents are always worrying about me, and I often have to stay at school fairly late for school events. It makes them feel better when they can make a frantic call “Where are you? It’s five o’clock”* and reach me directly.

*No, I don’t know what my parents will do next year when I’m not living with them and they have no idea what I’m up to.

I see no reason to ban cell phones altogether.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ban their presence in the classroom. They should be turned off at all times and out of sight. Disruptions should be dealt with as any other classroom disruption would be.

The schools here don’t allow cellphones/pagers because, yes, only drug dealers have such things. :rolleyes:

And they removed the payphone because some idjit decided it would be fun to call in a bomb threat from there.

And kids are not allowed to use the office phones for any reason other than major illness.

Evidently the schools don’t think that there is ever under any circumstance any possible legitimate reason that parents and kids might need to communicate before, during, or after school. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Fortunately, they don’t seem to actually enforce the cellphone ban as long as the kids don’t use them. Which, of course, translates into ‘sneak off to the bathroom to make your phonecalls’. Somehow, “phonin’ in the boys’ room” just doesn’t really have the same ring, though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yep, that’s pretty much what Voyager said twice.