12 August 2007

Guest Comment

on Mobiles in the Classroom (see below), I wanted to honor a brilliant response at the end of the debate on the Times' Blog... It shows that educators, politicians, and all those who plan policy really do need to listen to students...

"While I do sympathize with Ira’s and Stephen’s comments, I must digress somewhat merely because their (well mostly Stephen's) educational experience’s in NYC’s public schools seem to delineate outside the mainstream.

"The high school I graduated from a few years ago outside Coney Island in Brooklyn had a graduation rate of less than 60%. Its other percentile averages in regards to crime, suspensions, etc were well within several percentage points of the city wide norm. Furthermore, half-way through the school year one of the boroughs worst performing schools was shut down due to the “applaudable” No Child Left Behind Act resulting in an influx of the some of the less than impeccable youths the city has to offer.

"With those heartening pre requisites, I wish to address those of you who fall into the anti-cell phone/BJ Piel camp:

"Cell phones are just another scapegoat in a history of attributing the failures of public education to anything other than the GROSS failure of the Department of Education.

"My high school experienced a succession of such trivial pursuits beginning (#1) in my freshman year with the initial random inspection of lockers to the outright removal of them. (In fact they didnt remove most of them, they actually hired handymen to come into the school and bolt them shut) As we all know, drug trafficking in high schools came to a complete stop in the 2001-2002 school term…oh…wait a second…

"(#2) Two years later my high school began closing its gates (this was not a vertical campus in most respects) and locking students in for the majority of the day in attempt to, again, restrict drug trafficking, ensure peer safety, etc, etc….and, again, the 2003-2004 school year was the first in which students were safer than ever before…well not quite…

"The fact is students are people just like everyone else on this blog. They are effective problems solvers and thinkers. And although drug trade and gang association may not be as academic as going to class and studying, I assure they are just as savvy, requiring every bit of intellect ingrained in our human genomes. Those students inclined to engage in such unwholesome activities will do so with or without cell phones. Cell phones are a simple tool of a mechanism, that I imagine, existed long before I enrolled in the public education system.

"Even if this cell phone ban were to come into fruition it will hardly have an effect on those students you are out punish, BJ Piel. The human brain is far more complex than removing lockers, locked gates, and cell phone bans.

"What is truly laughable is that several comments have been made by people suggesting that they lived through high school without cell phones some 10, 15, 30 years ago. While I hardly believe that were possible (note the sarcasm), I am sure that even then the crime rates in our public schools were in fact MUCH HIGHER. My understanding is that overall crime in this country has actually DROPPED in the past 20 years.

"20 years ago, drugs were still being sold, the nerds were still being clobbered, and boys were still showing off their latest pornographic catch. Cell phones have merely replaced the old mediums!! ha-ha I am now just reminded that locker I received on orientation( and was subsequently taken from me, as well as the entire student body within a year) did in fact have pages from a Playboy ripped out and pasted to the back wall before I first opened it!!

"You are all fools caught in the punishment game. Prevention is the key, and prevention cannot be viewed on such a narrow scope as banning cell phone use. If you want students to behave in class, then encourage your local state assemblyman to draft and support legislation that increases spending on public education directed at enriching student interest and garnering the best and brightest teachers being pumped from this nations universities.

"As I had stated in my former post (#8), NYC is in dire need of better educators. It’s a capitalist game, and in this market the suburbs are ahead. No potential teacher wants to earn less AND work in a failing school system…only those rejected from Long Island (and of course the brave few who forgo salaries for rewarding consciences, I do truly commend!) trickle down into my former school system.

"Stop alienating this city’s youth or we’ll learn to bite back, and know this, we are younger, greater in number, and ever increasingly more desperate to be men and women. Don’t let our adulthood be defined by criminal behavior; our potential can serve such greater purposes."

- a blog poster named "Zigis"

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