WFISD Poised to Give-In on Cell Phones in Class
When I was a student in the WFISD last century, cell phones in class were not an issue. They didn't exist, at least not in the form we know today. If you had a 'car phone' you were among the 'wealthy elite'. I knew one adult who had a 'car phone' and your life was literally in danger if you touched it. Now, that electronic tether is a part of just about everyone's day-to-day existence.
WFISD school board members are considering changing district policy completely to allow the use of cell phones and other devices during and between classes. Here's the policy discussion from the WFISD website:
Smart phones and tablets have become so useful academically for high school students that Wichita Falls ISD board members will consider allowing their use during non-instructional time, such as during lunch and passing periods. Currently, cell phones must be kept out of sight during the school day at all schools.
Wichita Falls High School Associate Principal Greg Darden presented three reasons students will benefit from using cellular devices in common areas of the high schools in Monday’s July WFISD board meeting. He stressed that junior high schools had no interest in changing their cell phone policies
Cell phones and tablets provide students with academic help, said Mr. Darden. They can research assignments, tap into learning aids provided by their teachers, pull up helpful websites to help them with coursework (particularly in math), and access the web for tutorial instruction. Cellular devices, which must run on the students’ own data plans, also streamline communication, he said. Children can use their cell phones to write reminders, set alarms, keep calendars – tools that keep them organized and are particularly helpful for students with ADHD.
With a cell phone in hand during passing periods, they can track challenging domestic situations at home, such as checking in on a home-bound parent. They can monitor their own children’s sitters or check in on a sick child, sibling or parent. These are real issues for many students, said Mr. Darden. “They can call for help at any time,” he said.
Cell phones streamline communication between coaches and their teams, he said. Coaches may send out group texts to students, alerting them to changes in plans, such as a bus leaving later because of rain. Students can then alert one another and pass the information along to their parents.
“Tardies may decrease because they’re not searching out and waiting on their friends,” said Mr. Darden. Other high schools that allow similar cell phone use during non-instructional time, such as during passing periods, say students are more apt to follow the rules and put the phones away during class when they are given some time during the day to use them. At an Odessa high school, students are not allowed to make calls or access video, but they may play music and text. In Richardson ISD, students may use one ear bud only so that they can still hear any instructions shouted out to them during a passing period.
“I’m generally in favor of it,” said board member Bob Payton. “If we do this, it’s enforced,” said board president Trey Sralla. “It’s not up to the teacher to allow (cell phone use) in their class.” Board members asked Mr. Darden to prepare a proposal for discussion and possible adoption in the August board meeting.
I just cannot help but see it as caving in to an already out-of-control situation. It must be nearly impossible to police every student with a cell phone. And lets face it, just about every last one of them from the elementary snot machines to the teenagers has a cell phone. And most of the teenagers behave as though their life cannot go on without their phone. For that matter, I know adults who can't put the thing down even for a moment.
So what do you think? Is this a good idea or a bad one? Take our poll and leave your comments below as well.