With school starting soon, teachers and administrators will have to deal with the growing problem of cell phones and other personal electronic devices that can disrupt classrooms. Sam Harding, spokesman for the Iowa Association of School Boards and a school board member in the Jefferson-Scranton district, says it’s a tough issue for principals and superintendents to tackle.
He says administrators have to go with a policy that the board sets and can be enforced at a reasonable level, which is tough. Harding says unless there’s a rule against it, students who have cell phones will have them on in the classroom. He says most students aren’t making calls but they’re sending and receiving text messages, which have become the new way to pass notes between students in the classroom.
He says that’s the biggest problem. Harding says the evolution of so-called “smart phones” isn’t helping things in the learning environment. He says that’s the next wave of problems, given the Internet capabilities of the phones, making it tougher for teachers to control what students are looking at in class.
Harding says a number of school districts have a policy where students can have a cell phone at school, but can only use it in certain circumstances. He says most districts like his allow students to use phones in between classes so they can call their parents and get important voicemail messages without disrupting the classroom environment.
Harding says as improvements in technology advance, school boards will have to frequently examine their policies regarding electronic devices. He says with “smart phones” and mini laptops becoming more popular, school officials are going to have to make sure those things are effectively used and don’t disrupt the learning environment.
Saint Ansgar school officials last week dropped a plan to look into jamming cell phone signals during school hours after they found out it would be illegal to own and operate such equipment.