Cell phones are a huge issue

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Response to Oct. 29 post, “Expelled for inappropriate cell phone use?” by Payne Schroeder

This article is about an important issue concerning zero tolerance and students getting disciplinary records, which will harm their careers.

But it is also about a huge issue teachers have to face. Many groups who react to the District’s changes around cell phone use have no direct understanding of the impact these devices have in a classroom.

Everyone is implicated in this issue. Parents — who now seem to think that kids somehow have a right to a cell phone for safety reasons, which are statistically non-existent when you compare what children faced before cell phones. There is no reason for a student to text, surf the Internet and call people other than their guardians, other than for school work.

Then there is the District, which is just reacting in a knee-jerk way by placing restrictions on cell phone use. Solutions are to use technology that would encourage students to use their cell phones for educational purposes; technology like Poll Everywhere, which can accept text or Twitter-based answers to questions.

There are many other free or low-cost products which could be used instead of causing teachers to have confrontations with students about their phones. This technology could help to keep students off of the Internet and engage them to use their devices for school.

Instead of the District just issuing a policy, it needs to provide the reasoning for the policy, and the impact disruption has on students.

All involved need to be more responsible about the issue. Taking sides will just leave you on opposite ends instead of together working on the solution.

Maurice Jones

The writer is Home and School president of Henry C. Lea School and a member of Parents United for Public Education.