Ask most any teacher and they will tell you the worst decision that Mayor Bill de Blasio and his disappointing Chancellor, Carmen Farina, made was allowing students to carry their cellphones into the school. Even in the most structured classroom environment students peek at their cellphones from under the table or behind their notebook or textbook and get distracted. Since the New York City public school classroom usually has thirty or more students, its almost impossible for teachers to eliminate cellphone use in the classroom. Now a new study was published by the London School of Economics found that cellphone bans at schools raised student test scores by 6%. Moreover, for under-performing students the increase was 14%! The study was for twelve years from 2000 to 2012 and included thousands of students.
By contrast, since Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted the ten year cell phone ban, the schools have dumped the enforcement of cellphone usage on the teachers which has resulted in increased classroom management problems, distracted learning, and downright student defiance and insubordination when told to put their cellphones away by the techer. Even the teachers who have strict classroom control must still remind various students to put their cellphones away only to have them look at it during class time and take away precious instruction time while dealing with the cellphone issue.
Ask a school administrator to enforce the rule of cellphone usage and you get various responses, mostly negative, that dumps the responsibility on the teacher. Just yesterday, an Assistant Principal walked into a classroom for an informal observation and told the teacher today that she saw two students in the back peeking at their cellphones and blamed the teacher for not being observant enough while she was teaching the lesson. This very same Assistant Principal regularly walks right past numerous students in the hallway using their cellphones during change of periods and does nothing to stop it, despite the school policy to only use it in the cafeteria. In other words, accountability is only dumped on the teacher while the school administration is held unaccountable for the school behavior when it comes to cellphones.
If school administrators were really serious about improving student academic achievement they should do what the Lehman campus in the Bronx did. Have the students check their cellphones at the school entrance and any cellphone found in the classroom results in the cellphone being automatically being confiscated by a Dean or administrator and only returned after a parent shows up. Holding teachers accountable and then penalizing them when the school administration fails to support the teacher with a strict and coherent cellphone policy is the primary reason why schools fail to show the real academic achievement as demanded by people who want to see their children get a world class education and not by academic fraud as is far too prevalent in our schools..