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Betsy Combier

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The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Joan Klingsberg
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Jim Calantjis
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
How Can We Have Safety and Cellphones in School?


THE hilarious image of Alicia Silverstone walking and chatting with two of her friends on cellphones as they stroll side by side in the school hallway in the movie "Clueless" is forever etched in my memory - in sharp contrast to the eruption of violence that cells have visited upon our high schools.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has banned students from bringing cell phones and electronic devices into our schools. His reasons are sound: Phones going off in class lead to disruptions and confrontations with teachers. Pre-paid cell phones are frequently stolen, and have led to a spike in school-related thefts, and text messaging has figured in cheating incidents. Cells also facilitate gang activity in and around our schools.

Unfortunately, enforcement is all but impossible. The confiscation and vouchering of hundreds of cell phones is a bureaucratic nightmare requiring a full-time staff and a large safe. I can personally attest to that fact that confiscating a phone from a student can result in violence.

Then there's the parents - who usually tell the deans at our school, "Since 9/11, I want my child to have a phone." With parental support running against us, what are we to do?

This new technology has overtaken any system of regulations we have in place. A defiant student has little to fear from a suspension, and no school administrator wants to see cell-phone possession rise to the level of a criminal offense.

Once again, the business of educating is being disrupted by an unforeseen development that few would have predicted. Perhaps the best way to ensure the sanctity of our "cathedrals of learning" is to equip them with cell-phone jamming devices. Prohibition wasn't the answer for alcohol, and it won't be the answer for cell phones.

The Department of Education is slated to inaugurate a $5 million program to train teachers to handle "cyber-bullying" in schools, with $4 million provided by the federal government. For my money, the chancellor should skip the sensitivity training and work on getting cell-phone providers to make these devices useless in our schools once and for all.

Marc Epstein is a dean of students at Jamaica HS.

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation