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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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January302007

The Mobile Phone Debate’s Latest Twist

As yet another school district bans students from carrying cell phones, a mobile phone carrier heads in the other direction, creating school-based contests to encourage students and their parents to interact via text messaging. The timing couldn’t be worse.

It comes as no surprise that more school districts are following in the footsteps of New York City’s decision to ban students from possessing cell phones on campus. Rather than citing phones as a distraction, though, Milwaukee’s schools are treating them as something much more nefarious - tools of violence.

phone ban warning signFor those of you imagining a bunch of students flinging their RAZRs at each other in a high-tech food fight, the reality is actually nothing to laugh at. Earlier this month, one Milwaukee school, Bradley Tech, had to call in police armed with pepper spray after a group of students involved in a fight used their phones to call in reinforcements, including some from off campus. Three adults were arrested during the melee, and as many as nine students have been cited by police. School authorities reacted quickly, announcing “get-tough measures” banning cell phones in its 217 schools which began yesterday morning.

“This is intolerable,” said school superintendent William Andrekopoulos. “The disrespect a small number of students show for the safety of all of our youngsters and staff should be an outrage for the entire community. Parents, families, students, we have to have your cooperation. No cell phones in the schools.”

“If we see cell phones in school, we will take them away and students will be disciplined,” added Bradley Tech principal Ed Kovochich. “If we find that a student has used a communication device to endanger safety, such as calling relatives to ask them to come and be part of a fight, that student will be recommended for expulsion.”

These measures come on the heels of an initiative launched recently by AT&T’s Cingular Wireless business to promote educational uses of mobile phones. On January 19, Cingular held its first “TXT Bee,” a contest pitting student-parent teams against each other to see which team has the best text messaging skills.

Quoting from the press release announcing the first TXT Bee:

To help educate parents on text messaging, the AT&T TXT Bee — a first-of-its-kind grassroots effort — utilizes the spirit of competition to encourage parents to start communicating in the “language” of teens. The TXT Bees put five parent-teen teams to the “text” in a series of wireless communications exercises in a fun game-show style environment….

“Texting has become an entirely new forum for young people to communicate with each other,” said Cristy Swink, executive director of messaging for the company. “To many parents, this new language of text messaging may often seem irrelevant or appear to be unfathomable. Through our TXT2 Connect campaign and TXT Bee events, we are helping parents interact with their kids through text messaging in a fun environment. For some parents, this may be the first time they’ve ever tried to text. Once they see how simple it is, we are hopeful it won’t be the last.”

The teams will be competing for a $5,000 scholarship and a $5,000 donation to their high school from AT&T.

As part of the announcement, AT&T cited research it commissioned suggesting that parents and teens alike want to be able to communicate more often, and that mobile phones are key to accomplishing this. According to the survey, two-thirds of parents who use text messaging say they communicate more frequently with their kids and that it made them easier to reach.

It comes as no surprise that mobile carriers are promoting their products as a way of improving parent-child communication - the number of families featured in mobile phone commercials in recent months leaves no doubt of that. The question, though, is if they’ll be able to gain a foothold in schools when so many educators and administrators are getting fed up with mobile phones on campus. On the one hand, you have these companies, and many parents, arguing that phones improve communication with their kids. But on the other hand, we’re seeing more and more schools arguing that they interfere with education. And if more incidents like the Milwaukee brawl happen elsewhere, we may find ourselves entering a period where no argument, whether by parents or mobile phone carries, could successfully resist the banning of mobile phones on campus. -andy

Filed under : Mobile Devices, Policy

Responses

Schools should allow students to have their cell phones because for crime uses and that is just mean to not have schools should use their cell phones.

If you want to know how to prevent student from having cell phone in school
E-mail me Thank you.

If you have a suggestion, please share it publicly. -andy

I think it is very wrong to allow cell phones in schools.students are supposed to be uniform both in activity and curriculum. letting others possess cellphone can lead to vices like theft or conning of parents by the less endowed inorder to get money to buy gadgets and be like the rest.I support no cellphone campaign in schools.

I’m not sure if there’s much evidence that the possession of cell phones leads to the conning of parents, as you put it. Are there specific instance you’re aware of that you can refer us to? -andy

I am a college student and have witnessed students cheating via cellphones during exams. One brave teacher approached and expelled a student from her classroom during a test because he answered his phone and hid it under his hoodie, talking for 15 minutes while I was trying to concentrate on my math exam.
The level of disrespect for teachers ,in general, is appalling and the use of cell phones in the classroom is just more evidence that students need to learn what is respectable behavior in an educational environment.

I wish they could jam the cell phone signals on school campuses. It is a serious problem in high schools.

Considering the problems at middle schools and high schools perhaps the No Child Left Behind Act should include funding to provide limited use cell phones that could be issued to students for use only at school. Books are issued and the cell phone could be consider as a necessary item/tool. Especially when you look at all the education podcast potential.

I teach at a high school in Atlanta. I am not so much concerned with cell phones being used as a communication device for violence (I believe that is only one facet of the issue). I am more concerned with cell phones being used to text, play games, and make calls during valuable class instruction time. Our school administration is not unified in their decision to oust cellular (and other electronic) devices. Therefore, our students recieve a mixed message and constantly “push the limit” in class, never fearing that they will recieve punishment or correction of any kind. Perhaps I seem a little severe, but I believe personal electronic devices in schools will lead to complete distraction and ill-use of time, thereby seriously limiting a student’s intellect.

I made it through school just fine when all we had was pay phones.

I think they should allow cellphones. It’s not brain surgery, why don’t you just punish the person who uses the cellphone in school the wrong way? Perhaps like.. telling them that they cannot bring a cellphone to school or else it will result in maybe like 1 week detention until they learn their lesson. I mean I don’t think this is such a problem. There’s so many other things you need to worry about like crimes in the school and I mean actual crimes. There’s students that get raped, bullied, harassed everyday and instead of trying to find a way to make schools more secure or heck even try finding better ways to teach or get better teachers we are all worried about cellphones. As for cheating, because I heard people cheat with their cellphones, and guess what? People have cheat sheets and other methods so it will never end unless you ban every single looseleaf or something. This generation I must say is getting so silly.

Also I would like to reply to “Adam” and pretty much everyone else. I don’t think it limits a student’s intellect. If you don’t want to learn, then you don’t. You can take all the computers, cellphones, gum, put uniforms on them, do everything you can and if that person is procrastinator then that’s the fault of the individual. Also, I know for a FACT that cellphones do not ‘disturb’ the peace because I’m a student myself and I own a cellphone. I’m a straight A student that checks the news on my cellphone everyday and check my occasional text messages from my friends. Does that stop me from doing my homework or studying? No. Everyone knows what they’re doing now, so if they choose to do wrong and mess themselves up then that’s their choice. As for theft, you can get robbed anywhere. In a classroom, a train station, walking home, ANYWHERE. Don’t complain when (God forbid) a school shooting happens and you can’t contact your child. Perhaps it’s the last time you ever see your child, vise versa. What do you do? You sue the school for not letting you know early enough, for not allowing this, for not doing that. It’s ridiculous. Be realistic.

i think cell phones should be allowed in schjool for emergencies

Maybe they should have a minimum age to be allowed to bring a mobile to school.
Each student should have to sign a contract

I think that students should be allowed to bring cell phones to school but with certain regulations. For example,to use it for emergencies only.

student don’t need mobile because the student have mobile phone who has niglacting his studies and student always be using his mobile phone and he is chating with unknown number and distrubing them and using abuse…..

i think that schools should allow cell phones…

i think they should allow kids to have phones in schools… but to make sure they just use it for emergencies.

I recently went to court over cell phone use. My daughter had gotten her period in class and the teacher had given her a pass to the nurse. When in the hallway she had already leaked thru her jeans. She was approaced by a teachers aid while trying to call me on the way to the nurses office who tried to confiscate her cell phone. The teacher blocked her path to the nurse in spite of the fact that the hall pass clearly stated she was allowed to go to the nurse. My daughter repeatedly asked the teacher to “leave me alone” after 5 attempts to avoid the teacher she said something along the lines of “if you don’t leave me alone I will f**** punch you in the face”. She was charged with terroristic threats and found guilty.

cont’d from above
i just have a few questions
1 at what point is cell phone use considered an emergency?
2 what is a teachers responsibility in confiscating a cell phone? can they just request it and if refused turn the issue over to the principle or is it part of their job description to personally confiscate the cell phone?

Sorry for principle instead of Principal, as well as any grammatical errors. Just frustrated with all of this.

us students need the mobile phones in school to communicate to our parents, especially students like me who’s attending school away from my home town :(

Im an educator in a High school. A lot of my class time is wasted by the distraction of students continually texting on their mobile phones in class time. Its distracting for other students as well.
I dont agree with banning them, but schools need to enforce phone policies and maybe students who do bring phones to school, must attend phone etiquette workshops.

okay seriously you should be allowed to use phones in school. im a teacher and i am all for it. it is the students fault if they dont learn anything. and they already use cell phones in class anyways. and during tests they cant cheat take away their cell phones when they are taking the tests. you should also be able to use your iPods and laptops because you can use them to take notes and use your iPod as a flash drive. so quit debating it and let them use their cell phones they do it anyway so you should just let them. and there are some teachers like me who let them use their cell phones as long as they get their homework done. THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO USE THEM IN CLASS, AND SO SHOULD WE!!! :)

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