No Cell Phones In Schools

Well, it’s about time. In today’s Valley Breeze, Marcia Green tells about a new policy at Cumberland High and Middle schools that ban any use of handheld devices. The policy is based on one that was previously instituted in Warwick schools. The Cumberland schools used the first two weeks of the year to inform and remind both students and parents of the new policy. CHS Principal Dorothy Gould explains the policy succinctly, “If we see it or hear it, we’re going to ask for it.” The penalty is to lose the device for five days.
My first thought on the punishment was that it sounds a bit harsh. Five days? Why not give it back at the end of the day? But on second thought, there isn’t much “risk” in the “risk vs. reward” equation. If the risk is to lose the device for five days, including nights, that might make someone think twice about bringing it into the school or at least into sight of a teacher.
Of course, the policy isn’t without its opponents either.

Gould said five families have “raised a big, big stink by arguing, fallaciously, we can’t keep them overnight. Or they say, ‘My kid is a good kid so you should do something differently for my kid.'”

Two of the cases are even arguing this to the superintendent, who completely supports the policy.
Some parents try to argue that they need to keep in touch with their children during the school day. I don’t quite understand that one. They’re at school, they’re learning, if something comes up that you need to know about, the school will call.
Then there was also a woman who posted in a Facebook group about her son having a health “emergency” at the school. He was vomiting. She said the school tried to get in touch with her by phone, but her employer doesn’t allow her to receive phone calls. Being aware of this, the son texted his mother to let her know what was going on. The son lost his cell phone as well and the mother isn’t happy. Does this situation smell fishy to anyone else? How does her employer prevent her from taking calls during the day, even in an “emergency”, but she can accept text messages? I just don’t get some parents.
So I would like to take this time to congratulate the Cumberland Superintendent Phil Thornton and the school principals on adopting this policy. School time is learning time and the other eighteen hours of the day can be used for cell phone time.

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10 years ago

I witnessed the results of a cell phone ban in a public high school in which I used to substitute teach. It was basically the situation that results from any prohibition, minus the violent street gangs. Cell phone use was exactly the same, but students got a little sneakier. In effect, it turned everyone into an “offender” like speed limits in the adult world. Teachers were turned into phone police, spending a significant portion of each day confiscating phones and getting into shouting matches with students who broke the policy. It had a very detrimental effect on the teacher-student relationship, much like the police-private citizen relationship of today that has resulted from the drug war and traffic-ticket enforcement. My solution as a substitute teacher, which I explained to all the students at the beginning of their assignment, was to allow them full use of their cell phones if, and only IF, they finished all of their work. Most of the students thought this was really “cool” of me and took me up on the offer. The ones who initially resisted saw everyone else using their cell phones with impunity and made an effort to get their work done as well so they could join in the social circle. Then, of course, there were the 3-4 vegetables who hated classroom learning and sat at their desks with their heads down for the whole period. I let them get zeros on their assignments because that’s what they deserved. Of course, if I had been a full-time teacher, I would have been required by the school to become the cell phone police and none of this would have been possible. I would also have had to force the “zeros” to do their work, which might have lasted 5-10 minutes if I were lucky… Read more »

10 years ago

What ever happened to simple detention? Break a minor rule (gum in class or wearing a hat indoors, when I was in school) and you lose your hat until the end of a punitive 45-minute after-school study hall.
If you got five detentions in a month or committed a more serious offense (skipping class, smoking), you had to report in on Saturday to help pick up trash or trim bushes.

10 years ago

R.I.G.L 16-21.2-11 already prohibits the use of these devices. Why doesn’t the administration turn the phones over to the school resource officer and be done with it?
Cell phones are a cancer in our schools. I’ve been teaching for around 16 years and I miss the days when the biggest challenge was hooking disinterested students. Now I’m competing for their attention. In real-time I’m competing with friends and Facebook. And the parents… they text their kids during class. I’m far from an old fart but I have no tolerance. I see the phone, you get a zero on whatever you’re working on. Test,lab, final exam…zero. Mom and dad don’t like it? Too bad.

10 years ago

Glockster – I understand your frustration having witnessed the problem firsthand, but cell phones in the classroom are here to stay. Students are too accustomed to them as an extension of their beings to give them up. Consider the failed efforts of every prohibition in history. My advice would be to find a way to:
1)Find ways to out-compete the cell phones for attention,
2)Compromise with students on a fair level of usage, or
3)Accept the distraction a biproduct of technological progress and learn to live with it.
Also, consider:
Many students can multitask quite well and research shows that people stop paying attention when they don’t understand or don’t care about a subject anyway.

9 years ago

The school department is dealing with this in the wrong way. Cell phone Technology is never going away. They should be using technologies that block cell phone signal. You probably thinking cell phone block technology is against the law and your right. But! Only 90% of active devices are. There are many passive systems that are FCC legal and are being use in place like Casino and Corporate America.
I guaranty if Cumberland hand a high crime rate equally to New York city. You all would be speaking differently about the mater. Remember the main reason responsible parents give cell phone to are youth and that is for safety and not to be confiscated!

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