Milwaukee Public Schools say Hello to Life without Cell phones

Written by Patricia Hawke for

Cell Phone Ban in Milwaukee Public Schools 
It’s hard to imagine a world without cell phones.  Next to the Internet it’s probably the single most important invention that has affected the maximum number of lives around the globe.  People run entire businesses through their stylish gizmo fitted cell phones and it’s normal to find a family with each member sporting his or her individual phone.  
But, students in Milwaukee Public schools won’t be among those yakking on their cell phones this year. The reason – Milwaukee public schools have enforced a ban on cell phones on campus.  From January 2007 onwards, students in Milwaukee’s122 schools  are banned from using cellphones in classrooms. 
Fear of Violence Leads to Cell Phone Ban in Milwaukee Public Schools 
The catalyst that triggered this ban was a brawl involving students outside the gates of a Milwaukee school.  Female students who got into the fight used their cell phones to summon help from family members.  At least 20 family members turned up and matters got really ugly before the Milwaukee school authorities and police managed to step in.  Although nobody was seriously injured in the brawl, Milwaukee school authorities were stunned into action.  This wasn’t the first such instance in Milwaukee schools. Earlier two students had been caught using their cell phones to summon others to a fight outside campus.
Milwaukee Schools Join a Growing Number of School Districts in Banning Cell Phones 
Milwaukee public schools are by no means the only school district taking, what some consider, this extreme measure. New York and Los Angeles do it too, albeit for different reasons.  The Columbine shooting in 2001 and the attacks of September 11 had many schools all over the country lifting their bans on cell phones as parents expressed their desire to stay in touch with their children in what they saw as an increasingly dangerous environment around the country.  That trend has definitely been turned now and more schools are scrambling to enforce similar bans in their schools.  Reasons given for these bans in schools around the country range from using cell phones for cheating to taking inappropriate pictures.
The issue of whether the ban will have any positive effects on curbing the levels of violence in Milwaukee schools is debatable.  It seems simplistic to think that banning cell phones will curb any tendencies to fight.  Students who want to fight will do so regardless of who they can or can’t summon to their cause.  It seems more appropriate to beef up security around campus to deal with issues of school safety.  In these days of working moms and kids who are forced to be independent, a cell phone is a powerful tool for communication.  To take away this tool might be the equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.