88 public NYC high schools and middle schools charge kids a dollar a day to store their cell phones in trucks or nearby bodegas while they're in class so they can't text their friends emojis during pre-calc. The New York Post says this adds up to $4.2 million a year — that's $22,800 a day from about 120,000 students — with most of the money coming from kids who can't afford it.
"I cut back on food for the sake of my phone," 17-year-old Emily Luna told the paper. "My parents give me $20 a week, but that's $5 a week that's gone. I try to cut down on whatever I buy so I have enough to store my phone." While that sounds like the type of excuse some of us might have used to get more cash out of our parents in high school ("No, I swear it's not for beer! The teacher said I need the money for my phone! WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!?"), it does seem fucked up to expect financially-challenged families to pony up that much cash, especially since many parents give their kids phones so they can contact them in case of emergencies. It's not like we're talking about Tamagotchis: it's 2012, and cell phones are inarguably essential.
Schools have been using metal detectors to search for cell phones since 2006 — they say it's a worthwhile endeavor since kids can use them to organize fights and cheat on tests — but the storage issue came into the spotlight last week when one truck was robbed at gunpoint of both cash and phones. Still, Mayor Bloomberg and the DOE say there are no plans to change the system.
"[Bloomberg] seems totally unconcerned with how his policies negatively affect students, and he seems totally scornful of the concerns of parents," said one parent. A cellphone is absolutely essential in this day and age, and there's no reason that kids who go to scanning schools should have to pay hundreds of dollars and be unfairly treated in that way."
So why don't the schools store cell phones themselves for free? Because that would mean they'd have to deal with an overwhelming amount of gadgets on a daily basis. (Plus, imagine how many sexts they'd be subjected to, since we know that all teenagers do these days is text each other dick pics.) "I'd imagine the city just does not want to be responsible for what's thousands of dollars worth of phones," said one truck company owner. So let them eat cake! Er, pay for phones.
Image via Ljupco Smokovski /Shutterstock.