Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cell Phones in MoCo Schools -- Possible

Lots of schools, including Montgomery County schools, do not allow students to use cell phones at school. That may change soon.

Seems to me this rule was made in a different time, and it is amazing to think how we have changed. I can remember taking a skeptical attitude toward the devices -- somebody told me once, "They're so handy when the family's all trying to get together, you can call each other and figure out where to meet," and I said, "Why don't you just make a plan?" Now of course my family has them -- there is nothing like having a punk kid call you from his room, twenty feet away, to ask you to bring him a glass of water!

Just today, that same kid told me that email is "old fashioned." See, I wouldn't have known that.

Some of you might remember the old crank-handle cell phones we had back when I was a kid. I tell my kids about the old days, when we had to wear a special backpack just to carry your cell phone. You'd get so tired hauling that thing around, remember how your shoulders would ache? And bringing it to school? We couldn't bring 'em to school because they took up too much space in the classroom.

WTOP has the story:
The sounds of hungry students and banging lunch trays could soon be punctuated with hundreds of ringing cell phones if a resolution put before the Montgomery County school board Tuesday evening is met with approval.

The county would be the first in the region to allow high schoolers to check in with parents and friends during the lunch hour. Currently, students are allowed to have cell phones on campus, but they must be turned off at all times during the school day.

Student board member Quratul-Ann Malik proposed the resolution earlier in the month, responding to her 44,000 high school constituents. The school board on Tuesday will discuss whether to support it, and then to send it to Superintendent Jerry Weast for further review and a final decision.

The use of mobile devices during lunch "does not harm or interfere with" education, Malik wrote in her argument for changing the policy. And it would allow for "convenient communications with parents to students and students to parents." Cell phone use may be OK'd in Montgomery Co. high schools

I know some teachers read this blog. Tell me, aren't kids texting each other all day anyway?

I think we can safely say that life in the future will include use of some kind of handheld or wearable communication device, and if I may say so it seems that one goal of education might be to prepare our children for the future. I have a friend whose phone is mind-numbingly powerful, it does everything a computer does and more -- it has taken him months just to figure out how to do the basic things on it, like answer it when it rings. I would not venture to guess where the technology is heading, but I think it is safe to say it's not going away.
The issue has created enough of a stir in the schools that the most viable candidates campaigning for next year's student board member are running on a pro-cell-phone-at-lunchtime platform.

Some parents need more convincing.

Pat O'Neill, a 10-year board member and mother of a recent graduate, said the main issue was ensuring class time free of distractions and without the worry of text-message cheating.

"We've heard quite a bit from teachers who are concerned that if they're allowed on at lunch, they might remain on into the next class," O'Neill said.

She conceded, however, that for the purpose of coordinating schedules or figuring out where your child would be after school, a new policy could be beneficial.

That's just the way people do it these days.

This story reports the other side, as well.
Consultants from National School Safety and Security Services recently said they opposed the idea.

Students have used phones to text upsetting messages to other students, to cheat and to spread rumors, their article said. Teachers become "cell phone police" instead of instructors.

If school boards allow cell phones, the consultants wrote, "they should acknowledge that convenience and public pressure, not school safety, are the real reasons typically driving such decisions."

I suppose "consultants from National School Safety and Security Services" would think that safety and security are the only criteria for a decision like this, you should only do things that increase security. Consultants from National Convenience and Public Pressure Services think it's a good idea, though. However do you decide?


Blogger Tish said...

When my daughter was a student at Blair, students were forbidden to have cell phones on school property. That meant that a student could not have a cell phone, turned off, locked in his car on the school parking lot. We were at Blair when the school moved from its old location on Wayne Avenue to it current building on "the Kay tract" at University and Colesville. The county didn't have a number of key features up and running when the school year started, including working pay phones. Students who stayed after school for sports and other activities had no way to contact parents. Students who attended football games (held at night) had to leave the stadium and find pay phones to call for their rides, then they were - by MCPS regulations - not allowed to return to the stadium to wait for their rides.

I know that parents all over the county advocated for allowing cell phones on school property, but the Blair parents were really up in arms. Since then cell phone policies have gotten increasingly more open.

April 29, 2009 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

There's a particular posture to a student holding a cellphone under hiding a cellphone under his or her desk and texting, and a particular guilty placement of the cellphone back in the pocket when you call their name.

Rather than allow students to use cellphones during lunch, perhaps schools can have a designated, supervised place for students who need to reach parents to go and place their calls.


April 29, 2009 11:41 AM  
Blogger Tish said...

Robert I like that idea. In lots of schools the large buildings block signals and calls need to be made near courtyards or in classroom on exterior walls.

I confess that in the years between my daughter's high school days and my son's, I have become a fan of cell phone communication with teens. I like being able to call or text my son if I am out doing errands at the end of the school day and can come pick him up. These extra unplanned car rides together have become important times for the two of us to talk.

April 29, 2009 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I agree, it is foolish of us not to allow cell phone communication between parents and children, it's convenient and allows parents to be more aware of where their children are and what they are doing, lessening their worries. I think if we supervise it, we eliminate the concerns about students misusing the technology, spreading rumors, texting in class, etc.

I'm a big believer in using youth using technology.

I also oppose schools using internet filters to try to keep students from going to websites, chat rooms, games, youtube and facebook pages the schools don't want them to use. Students always find back doors around these filters, so they really just limit teacher access. I think when we have students using computers the only way to oversee access is to supervise them. I myself don't leave students using computers without supervision. One hates to be untrusting, but kids are kids, and as much as we love them we know that they can get into all sorts of stuff on their own. It's more fair to oversee what they do and eliminate temptation than punish infractions.

April 30, 2009 3:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One hates to be untrusting, but kids are kids, and as much as we love them we know that they can get into all sorts of stuff on their own."

Like what kind of stuff, Robert?

Do you think teachers should control what kids see?

April 30, 2009 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Don't argue just for the sake of arguing, dear; you know exactly what I mean.


April 30, 2009 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not doing that, Robo

just curious what kinds of things a guy like you thinks kids can't see

and, also, exploring this whole concept where teachers think they're de facto parents of their students

April 30, 2009 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" want to "explore" the "whole concept where teachers think they're de facto parents of their students"?

Legal judgements by the scores have been handed down based on the concept of "in loco parentis". Teachers, and actually the whole school system, are legally required to be responsible for the children in their charge. Not to do so/be so opens up a Pandora's box of threatened law suits...especially here in law-suit crazy Montgomery County.
I bet you would be the first parent in line to sue the Superintendent, the School Board, the teacher, and the bus driver if you discovered that your child was being allowed access to a site that you didn't approve of.
Once again, you have exposed your belief that the job of the teacher is to just dish out information (and in your case, just the information that has passed your "moral certitude" standards) and not to exercise professional judgement concerning student behaviors.

"Do you think teachers should control what kids see?" Huh? Ironic statement, that.

That is precisely what you wanted to occur when you so ardently opposed the changes in the Family Life Curriculum. You are so duplicitous.


April 30, 2009 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"exercise professional judgement"

have you met any of these "teachers"?

April 30, 2009 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That is precisely what you wanted to occur when you so ardently opposed the changes in the Family Life Curriculum."

Your side wanted to withhold information.

Kids are now taught a fairy tale about gaeity without being advised of the dangers.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

April 30, 2009 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Honey, you personify arguing for the sake of arguing, or at least arguing for the sake of insulting people.

I think they have seminars on increasing your self-awareness skills.

"I was just wondering" is as much a cliche as "It's not a threat, it's a promise", and "Many of my friends are black/latino/gay/disabled/etc."

These are markers for people not taking responsibility for their own actions.

Now, as for teachers thinking their parents, good god we don't think that. But we are adults responsible for children during certain periods during the day, and the assumption of law and society is that children do not have the decision-making skills, self-observation skills, and judgment that adults do.

Kind of like anonymous trolls.

April 30, 2009 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Robert, you need some reparative therapy.

April 30, 2009 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

It's because of hardcore social conservatives that the GOP is losing so many people. Arlen Specter followed 200,000 Pennsylvanians from the GOP to the Democratic party this week and maybe Olympia Snow, who recently quoted Ronald Reagan, will be next.

Senator Snow reminded everyone:

...President Ronald Reagan, who urged, “We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.” He continued, “As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”

It's the social conservatives who need some reparative therapy so that they might finally learn that intolerance does not win you any friends, it alienates them. That's why there have been so many Republicans who have left the party and now only 21% of Americans identify as members of the GOP, down from 37% not long ago.

Glub glub glub

May 01, 2009 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, "Anonymous"...I have met some of "these teachers". There are always a few bad apples in any profession (e.g. such as at the National Institutes of Health or in the legal profession) and they were, unfortunately, replicas of you. Insensitive, closed-minded, bigoted, nasty, ignorant, smug and self-centered, and - worst of all -hateful of young people. Unfortunately they managed to slip through the interview process. Almost all of the ones I met did not last very long in the profession, however. They were easily identified and weeded-out before they did too much damage.
And, like unwelcome weeds in an otherwise healthy garden, you should be weeded out of here,

May 01, 2009 11:22 AM  
Blogger Tish said...

Robert, as a parent I believe that it is my responsibility to warn you of the dangers of being gay. If you are a gay man, some people will anonymously refuse to let you call them "honey."

Now you are forewarned.

May 01, 2009 4:10 PM  
Anonymous ha-ha said...

"Glub glub glub"

she started out on burgundy

but soon hit the harder stuff

all her friends said they'd be behind her

when the game got rough

but the joke was on her

there was nobody even there to bluff

it's sad when crazy old bats

have clearly had enough

May 01, 2009 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I've had reparative therapy, dear.

Perhaps I did it wrong, or something.

May 02, 2009 5:07 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Thanks, Tish. Forewarned is forearmed.


May 02, 2009 5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps I did it wrong, or something"

Obviously, something went wrong.

Research is needed into finding a cure for this horrible disease.

May 02, 2009 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Back to the personal attack when you've got nothing to say? You must be talking about your own self-medications, moving from wine to harder stuff like Jack Daniels to **whine**. FYI The most I drink is a single light beer with a spicy meal sometimes and the self-medications I use are Tylenol and nasal decongestants, when needed.

There's plenty of news for GOP supporters to feel the need to self-medicate about. Polls and events keep showing support for the GOP waning. Another poll has come out confirming that GOP support has fallen below 25%. Last week we had the April, 2009 WashingtonPost/ABC News poll which found ... when you are looking for clues as to where the two parties stand politically there is only one number to remember: 21.

That's the percent of people in the Post/ABC survey who identified themselves as Republicans, down from 25 percent in a late March poll and at the lowest ebb in this poll since the fall of 1983(!).

And now, similarly, Pew Research reports Over the first four months of 2009, the Republican Party has continued to lose adherents. Interviews with over 7,000 respondents nationwide so far this year found fewer than a quarter (23%) of the combined total identifying themselves as Republicans. This is down from 25% in 2008, and from 30% in 2004. In total, the GOP has lost roughly a quarter of its base over the past five years...

They've forgotten the words of Reagan (“As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”) and so are losing support. Remember Reagan Democrats? They are Democrats once again because Reagan's call for tolerance for disagreement over issues of "morality and emotion" has been forgotten.

May 02, 2009 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Research is needed into finding a cure for this horrible disease."
Could that be the horrible disease of bigotry, "Anonymous"? Or perhaps it's the disease of homophobia? Get yourself cured!

May 02, 2009 10:27 AM  
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