Officially, mobile phones have been banned from New York City schools for almost 20 years, but city and school officials have only begun enforcing the ban in the last month. Not surprisingly, the move has sparked controversy. Security guards using new metal detectors have found and confiscated more than 800 phones so far.
The logic behind the ban, which is supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is that the phones disrupt the learning environment. Opponents aren’t buying it. Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel says that the ban has no rational basis and that it will not stand up to scrutiny. Even the United Federation of Teachers has come out against the ban, pointing out that phones are an important safety tool, especially for kids who have to travel as much as two hours to get to school.
Safety experts are split on the place of phones in schools. Phones have been famously used to get help in shooting sprees and other dangerous situations, but some argue that can be used to call in bomb threats, detonate bombs, or overload a network during a crisis.