PODCAST: When cell phones are locked up at school

Three cell phones on a wood surface locked in a cage.
In this episode from the Bell’s Miseducation podcast, Zainab Kuta explores school cell phone policies. (EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS / Getty Images)

This originally aired on The Bell’s Miseducation podcast on June 12.

When I was in seventh grade, something changed in my school. The administration at the Bronx Academy of Letters was implementing a strange new policy called “Yondr.” Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I.

Yondr is a company that makes lockable pouches for smartphones to create “phone-free spaces for artists, educators, organizations, and individuals.” The idea is that it helps with student learning by removing distractions from the classroom.

“We had found that students having cell phones was interfering with student learning.” — Amy Schless, principal of Bronx Academy of Letters

As you might expect, students had some questions about the new policy, many of which I was wondering myself: Is the Yondr phone policy underestimating student maturity? How is the policy affecting student-teacher relationships?

To get some answers, I talk to teachers, my principal, students who have experience with Yondr and even representatives from the company. Listen to this episode to for an inside look at the impact of restrictive cell phone policies on schools like mine.

Zainab Kuta reported this story for The Bell’s Miseducation podcast as a junior at the Bronx Academy of Letters.

The Latest

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson asked Illinois Senate President Don Harmon in a letter late Thursday to hold a bill that would block changes to selective enrollment schools and prevent any school closures until 2027.

Lawmakers last year relaxed income eligibility rules so that most Indiana families now qualify for the Choice Scholarship program.

Students work with artists to find themselves, learn about their world, and see their work showcased around the city.

El programa capacitará a jóvenes de entre 18 y 24 años para actuar “como navegadores que sirven a estudiantes de secundaria y preparatoria en escuelas y en organizaciones comunitarias.”

The teachers union’s 7,000 members are scheduled to take a ratification vote on June 6.

The state superintendent said cuts to staff won’t be prevalent in all districts. But educators say the “fiscal cliff” existed in the state well before federal COVID relief funds.