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Allow Electronic Devices in NYC Public Schools

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My name is Aaron Cheung. I am a student at the Bronx High School of Science (Class of 2015) and I have a message for you.

Electronic Devices, such as laptop computers and tablets play an important role in the educational process. Communication devices also play a major role in ensuring the safety of high school students.

The New York City Department of Education has long barred the use and possession of electronic devices for several years. This regulation, as set forth by Chancellor's Regulation A412 (City Standards of Intervention and Disciplinary Measures, The Discipline Code and Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities, September 2013, B05), limits the potential of the classroom and neglects the safety of public school students. The policy is strongly unpopular among students, teachers, and administrators alike.

We request that the New York City Department of Education to amend the electronic device policies in the New York City public school system. We recommend that the DOE to enact one of the following:

  • Allow each individual school administration to determine its own electronic device policy OR
  • Allow electronic devices in school and classrooms as long as the devices do not disrupt classroom activities OR
  • Allow electronic devices in school buildings but also permit each department/teacher to create their own classroom electronic device policies.

As a current student at the internationally renowned Bronx High School of Science, I use electronic devices, including laptop computers and tablets, to discover and learn new topics. These electronic devices are flexible and provide utilities that are not provided by my school. Several tools, such as an updated version of Microsoft Office, functional version of Adobe software, and other resources including access to high speed internet are not provided by school computers. Although I would enjoy completing homework assignments during free periods, my options are limited. After consulting with other students, I have come to the general consensus that electronic devices should play a larger role in the New York City Educational System.

Electronic devices, such as laptop computers or tablets are effective tools that can be used to conduct research, write papers and take class notes. While many educational departments are moving towards integrating electronic devices into their school system, the New York City Department of Education has done little to integrate modern technology into high school classrooms. In comparison with other major educational departments in the United States, the New York City Department of Education is stagnant. Perhaps this is one reason that Sharon Otterman, in a New York Times article, claimed that most New York City high school graduates are not prepared for college.Other schools that allow electronic devices perform at a higher level than many New York City schools.

The policy is also unpopular among teachers and administrators. Most teachers do not confiscate cell phones unless mandated by their supervisors. One teacher, who will remain anonymous, stated in class that he/she “do[es] not support the confiscation of cell phones”. Furthermore, one teacher has told students that supervisors offer rewards for each phone that is confiscated. Even so, teachers often instruct students to “take out the cell phones that I know you (students) don’t have” in order to set an alarm, read an email, or search for a topic online. Administrators often walk pass students who are using cell phones in the school cafeteria or hallways without confiscating the phone or reprimanding the student.

Many students throughout New York City have long commute times to and from schools. Students at the Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School, and the Brooklyn Technical High School of Science have daily commute times of up to 2 hours each way. In addition, many of these students commute via public transit and travel through dangerous neighborhoods or secluded areas in order to attend school. Having a phone or other communication device will allow parents to keep track of their children and ensure their safety. Without a cell phone, my parents would never have allowed me to spend 75 minutes commuting each way to Bronx Science.

One classmate has recently informed me that at another New York City high school, DeWitt Clinton, students must “rent” space from external services in order to hold their phones.

The positive consequences far outweigh the negative uses of electronic devices. Not only are electronic devices a great tool for students to utilize, but they also allow parents to ensure the safety of their children.



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