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Cell Phones for Teachers

May 12, 1999

* Re "Phone Access Still a Hang-Up for Our Teachers," May 6: I have been a classroom teacher in an LAUSD middle school for over 25 years. In my tenure, I have never had access to a telephone in my classroom or building during the school day. Nor have I ever had an intercom system in my classroom. Long distance school-related calls are at your own expense because there is an area code block on the school phone lines. This includes calls to parents who work out of our area code. These calls must be done on a rickety pay phone in another office. I have learned to keep a handful of change for these calls or put the charges on my calling card.

In the classroom, I have experienced noncustodial adults at my door demanding a child be released, students reeking of marijuana, students in possession of weapons and drugs, intoxicated adults, violent students, stray animals and student walkouts. My building was constructed in 1990. There are supposedly phone lines, but no telephones are currently available. There are thousands of teachers in California in the same situation. Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy like the killings at Columbine High School to bring this phone shortage in California classrooms to the governor's attention. I'm not holding my breath. My guess is I will never see a telephone--cellular or otherwise--in my classroom unless I pay for it myself. There goes my 2% raise!

NANCY N. GILBERT

Walnut

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