Does the cell phone policy need editing?
By Lukas P.
With the school year starting back up again, the same problems arise more and more everyday. Problems from past years are becoming more prominent. That’s how administrators and some staff make it seem, at least. These problems include the dress code, tardy policies, the off campus policy, and the cell phone policy. All policies have been tested since they became rules, but many students find these rules wrong and unfair. One rule that many people, students and staff alike, don't agree with, is the cell phone policy.
Many teachers adapt the phone policy to what they would like it to be in their own classroom. But what is the actual cell phone policy? Most people, students and teachers alike, don't know what the district cell phone policy actually is. Upon looking through the district cell phone policy, many different things are stated with the main standing part of the policy being, “1.1 In academic settings (classroom, library, labs, etc) such devices must be in the ‘off’ or ‘silent’ position and stored out of sight except as permitted by the instructor or the building administrator.” Based on this information one can assume that it only matters what the teacher of the classroom wants the policy to be. Even with this information though, many teachers still find it difficult or annoying to enforce the cell phone policy that they choose for their classroom.
But one question stands out among students and staff. Are cell phones actually a problem or are teachers making it out to be a problem? To find out, we went out to see what students and staff thought about the policy. MRHS Journalism students conducted a survey asking students questions about the cell phone policy and their opinions on it. We asked basic questions like name and grade level, and followed up with asking if they thought the policy was effective or not, and what they would change about it had they been given the opportunity.
Ramsy Reyes, a 12th grader, stated that the cell phone policy was not effective, going on to explain that “It's not effective because students still use their phones regardless of their teacher's policy.” She also stated that there was nothing she would change about the policy.
Ashlyn Overton, also a 12th grader, said that the cell phone policy was ineffective. She noted that “Kids will go on their phone regardless.”. She stated that she would change the policy if given a chance, proposing that teachers and administrators should not have the ability to take a students personal cell phone, as having it taken will make students act out even further and cause more of a ruckus than before.
Both interviews lead us to wonder if teachers are just making cell phones a bigger issue than they actually are, so we asked some staff members what they thought about it.
Sydney Street, a math teacher, agreed that the cell phone policy was ineffective and declared that, “Consistency amongst staff needs to be the same,” and went on further to say that she would not change anything about the policy despite its ineffectiveness.
This , however, raised more questions. If the policy was to be forced more and taken more seriously then should staff also have to follow it or should it only be forced onto the students? And if the policy was only forced on the students, would teachers be required to have the same policy all across the board, even if they did not agree with it?
William Adamsky, an English teacher, had a differing opinion. He stated that the phone policy is effective, his reasoning was that “It's largely up to teachers how to enforce, so each can decide what their needs are.” When asked if he could change the policy he answered yes with the change being a “total ban” on cell phones in the classroom, which brings us back to the question about the policy being only for students, or for both students and staff members.
Amongst the many who responded to the survey, there was a student and teacher who had similar ideas about the policy, Samantha Kennedy, an 11th grader and Duane Tyler, a science teacher. Both stated that the phone policy should be more reliable on the student accountability for their own phones. Samantha stated, “I'd make it to do whatever you want, it's your grade your ruining.” and Mr. Tyler stated, “I would increase student accountability for consistent violation of the phone policy.” Both statements lead towards the idea that it should be more on students to care about when they should or shouldn't be using their phones and caring more about what it could be doing to their grades in the classroom.
Few knew what the district policy was, or didn’t know that the district even had a policy. But it wasn't only students who were unsure about the policy. There were also a few teachers who weren't aware of what the policy actually said, proving that the policy was not enforced very much by the district.
In some ways, this survey left us with more questions than answers. Such as, is it just teachers making it a big deal? Should students and staff be treated equally, having the policy enforced more on both? Should students be the ones to choose their policy and have them take accountability and responsibility for their own learning? Should the cell phone policy change? If the policy were to change how would it be changed? Would students have a say in what the new policy would be?
We as a student body will never have answers to these questions unless the policy were to undergo a change. So, does the policy need editing?