Friday, August 10, 2007

A True Education Coalition? Maybe Next Mayor

The saddest part of Thursday's Bloomberg Veto is not the anti-cell-phone-ban bill being vetoed (hopefully the City Council will override it,) it is that he is squandering a great opportunity to achieve some semblance of unity in our public school system.

With this bill, another group of people involved in our education system, politicians, have joined teachers, parents and students in the fight for student safety. The rarity of this situation is what makes Bloomberg's decision so sad.

Dealing with the misuse of Cell Phones in class is a difficult task. There is no question about that. In this situation, however, it seems like people want to work together to find a solution, not only to forward their own agendas. Minus Mayor Bloomberg and the DoE, it seems like all the constituents of our school system have agreed that safety is more important than inconvenience and that me must look to creative solutions to this problem instead banning cell phones outright.

The majority of the problems facing our schools are going to have to be solved through compromise and unity between teachers, school administrators, parents, students, politicians, and DoE officials. The Cell Phone Ban is an issue that could have created that sort of unity. Besides its mass press coverage and the widespread criticism by teachers and parents, the Ban led students to organize and create the New York City Student Union, a student run Education advocacy group.

Ideally, Bloomberg and the DoE would have realized their mistake after the 46-2(!) vote and joined the coalition. Then we would create working relationships between groups that are so often only concerned with their own interests and in a perfect world we could begin to deal seriously with other issues like class size, school security, and our dismally low graduation rates.

At least we've opened up some channels of communication between the groups: blogs. Parent and Teacher blogs are popping up everywhere and we students even have our own. I hope that just as the blogosphere has united many constituencies to influence the political landscape in Washington and in State Capitals around the country, we can work together to influence the Education system of New York City. Who knows, someday the DoE might even join us.

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