NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week that he was considering a proposal to give some city students free cellphones and to reward high performance with free airtime, but emphasized that he had no intention of lifting the ban on phones in schools.
“It’s something we’ll take a look at,” the mayor said of the proposal being pushed by Roland G. Fryer, a Harvard economist who joined the Education Department this year as chief equality officer. Dr. Fryer is also the architect of the city’s plan to pay cash to students in several dozen schools who do well on standardized tests, a step connected to the mayor’s broad antipoverty efforts that give families money as a reward for certain behavior. Dr. Fryer spoke of the cellphone plan during a lecture to his undergraduate economics class last month.
Mayor Bloomberg suggested that the plan would not necessarily collide with the ban, which has come under continued attack from parents and politicians in the city because the phones would not be used in schools.
“Right now you can — if you have the money — you can pay for your own cellphone and use it outside of school,” the mayor said yesterday after giving a speech on land use. “We have no jurisdiction nor any interest in prohibiting your using a cellphone outside of school.”
Councilman Lewis A. Fidler, who sponsored a bill to try to loosen the cellphone ban by requiring schools to allow students to carry phones to and from school, said the proposal was “almost funny. The fact that they even would think that this might be a powerful incentive for students is delicious,” Mr. Fidler said. “It’s a clear indication that people at a level below the mayor and the chancellor realize that this is a vital piece of technology.” (info from The New York Times)