This Associated Press article adds yet another chapter to the cellphone saga that schools are currently navigating. Apparently, an Iowa school district has had to abandon a plan to jam cellphone calls on school grounds because of legal concerns, the article says.
The district isn't the first to think of that idea, either. Schools in Pittsburgh and Spokane, Wash., have also pursued cellphone-jamming devices to prevent students from using their phones in class, plans that came to a halt when school officials the practice is illegal. (The article says that only federal agencies, not state or local authorities, are allowed to jam cellphone calls.)
At the heart of it, this story isn't really about whether schools should be able to jam cellphone signals, but what role cellphones play in the classroom. Here's a quote from a school board member in the Iowa school district:
"I don't think they have a place in the educational environment," said Ed Kleinwort, a member of the St. Ansgar school board. "The educational environment is supposed to be about students learning and teachers teaching and teachers can't teach over a cellphone. If a student is busy on the cellphone they aren't learning."
There are numerous examples in the story about how distracting cellphones can be and how much of a nuisance they are to teachers, as well as concerns about how they may be leveraged to cheat. But there are quite a few teachers out there who would disagree with the quotation above—who would say that cellphones are a tool that can be harnessed and used to engage students.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or weigh in on the Teacher Magazine online forum about this topic here.