Lady looking at something on her phone

Can you hear me now?

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Aug 15, 2016

The Orange County Public Schools, located in the Orlando, Florida area, just announced a new cellphone rule. The announcement said cellphones may no longer be used by high school students in the classroom. I’m puzzled.  Were students ever allowed to blithely text away while the teacher taught chemistry or calculus?  Don’t the usual classroom discipline rules apply – listen and participate in class or head to the principal’s office?  Is there really any difference between texting your buddy on your cell phone or passing handwritten notes in class?

My son attended a large high school in this school district a year ago. He always thought the rule then was that there was no use of cellphones in the classroom…except when students were leaving early and awaited a text from their parents that they had been signed out at the attendance office.  In fact, parents of students frequently use cellphones to communicate information to their children about carpools and other matters.  I’m wondering if my son’s 4000 student high school really wants its staff to have to handle all those messages?

The announcement goes on to say that cellphones are no longer needed because the school district is providing laptops for students to use in class for research and other educational purposes. I guess that’s good…but it hardly seems like an advancement. I no longer have a laptop but rather take only my smart phone and iPad on business travel.  And why would it be against the rules to pull out your cellphone and google some facts if a teacher asks you to do so?

It will be interesting to see how or if this school district is able to enforce this “new” rule. Perhaps it points out the need for district ask, in addition to the students, for the insight of parents, teachers and the attendance office staff before they implement a new policy.

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