By EMILY MARTINEZ, age 11

Students waiting outside a phone storage truck. Before the ban was lifted, students spent hundreds of dollars a year to store their phone during the school day in trucks like this one. PHOTO: Matt Green/Flickr
Students waiting outside of a cell phone storage truck. Before the ban was lifted, a student could spend hundreds of dollars a year to store their phone during the school day in trucks like this one. PHOTO: Matt Green/Flickr

On January 7, 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would lift the ban on cell phones in New York City schools implemented by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It costs money for students to store their phones during the school day. High school student Antonia Davis says, “I think it’s like $720 for like four years to be in school, just to put my phone in the truck.” On the other hand, van owner Luis Bargas does not want the ban lifted because he makes $6,000 a month storing phones.

NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina believes, “It is critical for families to stay in touch with their children before and after school—and that’s exactly what the end of the ban allows them to do.” Most parents agree they need to contact their children during school or in case of emergency.

Some educators worry that cell phones in the classroom will be a distraction. Chester E. Finn, a former Assistant Secretary of Education, argues, “If the kids are allowed to use [phones] in school, there will be no more learning at all there, at least not learning anything in the curriculum.”

However, others believe cell phones can be used in school for learning purposes. Farina says, “Across the country, educators are using devices to overcome language barriers in multilingual classrooms, encourage class participation, and capture data about their students’ understanding of key concepts.” Translation tools on cell phones can be particularly helpful for students who do not speak English fluently or are learning a new language.