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Cellphones in Schools?


Which is worse, the disruptive ring of a cellphone in the middle of class, the risk of students using camera phones to transmit test questions during an exam, or the fear of a parent who can't locate her child after school because his cell phone has been confiscated?

Cellphones in schools has become a hot-button issue, especially in New York, where city officials recently increased restrictions. In this Education Week Commentary, Bruce S. Cooper, a professor at Fordham University's graduate school of education, and John W. Lee, a former superintendent of public high schools for the Queens borough of New York, write about the difficult decisions schools must make regarding student use of cellphones.

What do you think? Should students be restricted from using cellphones in school? Is there a way for schools to control cellphone use, or must they ban it outright?


I think until society brings about a firm set of cell phone etiquettes students will follow the example they see everywhere of cell phones being used anywhere and anytime. Yhey will continue to have them in classes and cell phones will be a cause of distraction. I had this past semester asked a paraprofessional in my class to please put his phone away. He is just adding to the poor example the students have to follow with cell phones. I carry mine with me everyday at school, but I never pull it out in the classroom. It is on silent and if I have a need to use it I will use it in an area that is private and secure from students. The ban is a good idea. If they really want their kids to have them, then teach them how to have them responsibly and if they won't, back up the school with confiscation of the phone.

Cell phones amongs teens today is a nearly ubiquitous technology. In an era where schools are grasping for ways to provide anytime/anywhere access to information to students, why not embrace the cell phone as the multi-functional communications and information gathering device that it is? Students can browse or search the web for information, retrieve information via SMS (text messaging), send and receive email, record photos and video to be used in reports and record voice notes as they make observations. For those cell phones that have the Palms OS or the Windows PocketPC OS, students can run standard word processing and spreeadsheet software, as well as a variety of educational applications.

When faced with the question of whether or not to allow cell phones in school, let's weigh the costs and benefits.


1. Students who do not carry a phone are distracted from learning through no fault of their own.

2. Students who do not have one may be envious and feel deprived; probably leading to conflict with a parent who cannot or will not provide one.

3. Students using these devices are disengaged from their surroundings and the company of the people with them.

4. Students have their attention spans, constantly constricted by all forms of media and popular culture play things, taxed further with the hobgoblin of missed calls, text messages needing to be sent or received, pictures to take or review, music to listen to, games they would rather be playing, etc.

5. There are, of course, the real dangers of the phone being used for the illegitimate purposes described above: namely cheating or voyeurism.

6. There is the more subtle danger for parents of confusing the possession of a cell phone with security and connection. A child not wanting to be contacted simply need not answer the phone. A child not wanting to disclose his/her location need simply lie about it. Possession of a cell phone stops no madman from attacking, no falling in with undesirable friends, no drug or alcohol consumption. Better to guard against these dangers the time-tested ways: advice to avoid strangers' cars, knowing your children's friends and providing guidance.


1. Students can call for help if stranded in an immobilized vehicle. Of course, they will not be immobilized within the school building and cell phones can be kept in their cars.

2. Children can check in with parents when arriving at a destination. Although, it is hard to imagine many places existing in modern-day America where there is no land line phone to use. Once again, the phone need not be used inside the school building to allow contact when an after-school destination is arrived at. And if the school itself or the neighborhood it exists in is of such a character that a parent needs to have the child confirm his/her safe arrival at it, we have problems that this technology cannot remedy. Perhaps a bank of pay phones inside the school for students to use to check-in would suffice. One 30 cent phone call per day is cheaper than a cell phone contract, in any event.

3. In the highly unlikely (regardless of our fears) event of student(s) taking hostages or going on a shooting spree, a student could call for help. This benefit ignores the fact that many adults would have already called for help and the danger that a hiding student would be discovered because their phone rang at the wrong moment.

Aside from the before-mentioned plethora of other features, like music listening and game playing and picture taking -- all of which can be accomplished with radios and PlayStations and cameras -- I can think of no real benefit these devices serve for children. They stop children from engaging in meaningful conversations with the people in the room. They give parents a false sense of security, which may be worse than feeling insecure as it makes communication with our sons and daughters about hard issues more unlikely. Cell phones in the hands of children are another luxury-turned-necessity, and proof of the genius of ad men everywhere.

I believe it to be impossible to regulate their use as they are so small and easily concealed under a desk during class, and therefore they should be banned outright and confiscated if they are seen anywhere in the school building. If I end up finding employment when I finish my internship at a school where they are not banned outright, I plan to seek a position at a school whose administration will back me up in my decision to not allow them in the classroom. I plan to lay down the law about them from the beginning and confiscate any that are brought out in defiance of it. My initial thoughts are that the first time I take it the student can collect it at the end of the day; the second time I have to take it and any future times, a parent will have to come retrieve it at their convenience.

I would find this funny if it was not so stupid. What are we now slaves to our technology? I still remember the pre-cell days. Needing dimes at the pay phone, It must have been a miracle that I made it through that time without the need of a cell. I would wager that 90% of the calls and use is idle chatter.

The comments from Bob and Leah above are excellent and well thought out. It is difficult to add anything more relevant. The technology is here to stay, and is ubiquitous, not only in teen culture, but in the global community. A school must decide how to handle the situation rather than ban them outright. Can anyone think of anything that has been banned in which the ban actually worked and not spawned subversion? Rather than ban the phones, the solution would seem to be how to reasonably control their presence in the school, such as requiring them to be shut off during class (with the consequence being confiscation). As for cheating on tests, their visibility can easily be met with the same consequence of crib notes of the past. The key is education and student and parent understanding of the guidelines. Schools should look for workable solutions instead of implementing reactionary policies. It is a 21st century phenomenon; look for a 21st century solution.


Now a days public facilities are posting legible signs requesting cellphones are not allowed, please turn them off.
If you were to go to the hospital, cellphones need to be turned off so that they do not interfer with the medical equipment.
When you are in a meeting, it is understood that "rudeness" does not apply. Turn it off.
So, with just that said, we do not NEED to HEAR cellphones ringing to cute little musical sounds while we are trying to achieve our teaching agendas and meet the criteria for NO Child Left Behind.
If these students find it necessary to bring their phones to school, they can leave them in their car until they leave school for the day--or if they would rather we could hold them in the office in a plastic bag with their names on them and they can collect them as they leave the premises.
School is not designed to carry on "personal" business. I guess that starts with us, the educator. It is designed to LEARN in a fashion that is SUITABLE by ALL. NO CELLPHONES ALLOWED.

Thank you, Leah, for your on target response regarding this issue. I would love it if students would indeed use cellphone technology to further their educational goals, however, as a middle school teacher in a lower socio-economic town, I must say their current uses are for distraction, social interaction, and (believe it!) lewd photography. What about parents that call students DURING CLASS to talk about non-emergency issues? Talk about inapproporiate modeling! I say NO to phones in the classroom.

Thank you, Leah, for your on target response regarding this issue. I would love it if students would indeed use cellphone technology to further their educational goals, however, as a middle school teacher in a lower socio-economic town, I must say their current uses are for distraction, social interaction, and (believe it!) lewd photography. What about parents that call students DURING CLASS to talk about non-emergency issues? Talk about inapproporiate modeling! I say NO to phones in the classroom.

Our district wrestled with the issue and decided that we needed to set the parameters for use and then enforce them. Our high school students may carry their phones but can only use them during free periods, before/after school, and during lunch; middle school students store them in their lockers and may use them only before and after school; elementary students are not allowed to have cell phones unless special circumstances require it (permission obtained through the building principal). Staff members are allowed the same use as high school students. Is it working?? Mostly yes and and sometimes no. We still hear the odd phone going off but now everyone is very embarrassed to have it happen and they are much more conscious (and conscientious) about cell phone use. Some of your solutions about using pay phones/office phones don't apply to our district; the board worked with administrators, staff, and students to reach this policy. Consistent application of the rules is working for us.

I echo strongly the very first comment - embrace the technology for what it CAN do in our classrooms.

Let's use the multiple functions (photo, video, communication, word processing) and even go so far as to require our students to find new and exciting ways to use the technology.

Create assignments that incorporate the technology. Why not ask the students to create 3-minute movies shot on camera-phones, for example? Or a series of photos taken of their families, neighborhoods, or any topic you can think of?

If you're in a neighborhood where phones are generally used for "superficial" reasons, bring in the parents to talk to them about cell phones. Parents value the phones for different reasons, and we know that they pass these values to their children. Let's not dishonor their values - let's incorporate them into our teaching! We have parent-teacher conferences, let's use them to address these issues as well.

I don't know how I will address this issue in my own (future) classroom. I only know that I will look to my administration and the realities of my class for my cues. If my students are up to the task (and I believe that they will be), this technology can be a powerful teaching tool.

I made a mistake! I meant to reference the second comment on this thread, not the first (in my first sentence).

Cell phones are distracting in most public venues; however, adding the distraction to the classroom is devastating. Students should be focused on schoolwork during the school day. Cells phones can remain in lockers until after school if parents really fear lost opportunities to communicate after school!

As a 6th grade teacher who has taught on the middle school level and elementary level, the debate about cellphones is actually a debate about responsibility. The truth is - students/ children are not exhibiting the responsibility that is necessary to utilizing this simple piece of technology.
Let me preface this by saying that I- a 37 year old woman, married, to another teacher, by the way, do not have a cell phone. Neither does he. We are able to communicate with each other because we basically plan our days and know what is going on. Emergencies come up- and somehow, we manage to contact each other. My mother, when I was in school, made sure I had a dime, and was able to communicate with her if an emergency came up. I can count on one hand I had to use that dime throughout my 12 years of elementary/high school.
Here's the deal. I know that we live in a new world and that people want instant access. That is fine. The problem with kids and cell phones are that the ones that disrupt the class, are the ones that don't use them for emergencies. I have seen them used to coordinate physical fights, send gossip, instigate arguments, take unauthorized pictures in boys/girls rooms, used to intimidate teachers- " Oh- I recorded you on tape, I am going to report you!" (keep in mind-there is nothing to report- just another form of intimidation).
All of this is to say, parents, if you really think it is necessary for your child to have a cell phone, make sure it is just a phone- not a camera, not a walkie talkie, and that it is used to just communicate with you. I, the teacher should not even know it is there. I have had parents call their children during the school day on the cell phone- not an emergency, mind you!
My philosophy is - you really don't need it- but if you have it- I better not know you have it, because if I know you have it- I confiscate it and mom/dad have to come up to get it back. You disrupt my classroom, I have to inconvenience you!

I know that most of my students carry cell phones, but never has one sounded during any of my classes. I include my own cell phone etiquette in the syllabus. "If your cell phone disrupts the class, leave the classroom; but do not return and disrupt the class a second time. Take an absence for the day." This seems to work for me. I believe that we create our own environment in the classroom. I never carry my cell into class.

I agree that cellular telephones should be banned from schools. Students who have them are too busy with it and not with the lesson at hand. More importantly, it inteferes with other students right to a good education. If students bring cellular phones to school, they should be required to register and leave them at the front office.

My school has had it with cellular phones. It seems as if the studnets cannot afford pencils and paper but they have the latest and greatest cellular phone. We are looking into a cellular telephone blocker that will prohibit all calls into and from school on cellular phones with the exception of emergency calls. Students today do not know proper cellular phone etiquitte and this is just a consequence of something that has been allowed to happen for far too long.

Coast Mountain S.D.#82 has banned the use of cell phones in the school at any time.

When most of us were growing up, there were no such things as cell phones. What did we use to call our parents/guardians after school? The hall phone or office phone of course. And when we got to our friend's house....their home phone. Cell phones do not belong in the classroom. Let's not forget...the classroom is for learning. There are enough distractions for kids and teachers these days as it is....how am I going to get my homework done and practice basketball, too....does he/she like me....am I getting through to my students.....etc. In our area, students have mandatory detention if they have their cell phone in their classrooms. Need to have it in your car in case of an emergency while driving home or to your afterschool job? Keep it in your locker or car during school hours. And let's remember this too....a cell phone's main purpose is for emergencies. Who ever is going to call you during class (if you are a student and not a teacher with children in daycare) about whatever if may be....can wait until 3:00 pm.

I find no redeeming educational value in allowing students to use cell phones during the course of the day. Contrary to popular belief that a cell phone is a necessity, it has become a nuisance. More times than I care to recall I have had to reprimand students to put away their cell phones and return their attention to the lesson. The mistaken notion of permitting students to use phones during THEIR lunch or break time means they will be contacting students NOT on lunch/break, thereby interfering with instruction elsewhere in the building. My district has a policy of "no visibility" for phones for students. Use it/see it and lose it (phone sent to the main office where a parent/guardian must retrieve it after school dismisses). Unfortunately, many students equate that with "if you don't see me using it, it's invisible." Inconvenience the students a bit more and perhaps they will come to see the value of following school board policy. Lessons on phone etiquette have fallen on the deaf ears of modern day students. Tighten up the reins and keep the phones out of the classroom.

I think the mistake we are making in education is that we expect students to "power down" when they come to school. Instead of trying to gain control over devices such as cell phones and iPods by prohibiting them in classrooms, I agree with Bob Moore that they should be embraced as a classroom tool and incorporated in the instructional process. I know this does present a challenge to stressed out classroom teachers who are already struggling with an overwhelming amount of requirements, but if used effectively, these devices could actually engage the students in a way they are engaged in their lives outside of school.

I HATE cellphones. We survived thousands of years without them - parents can always call the school to find their student, and in the case of an emergency, cell phones can be used after school. There is NO reason to have them in class. I take them away on the first offense...the first time I SEE one, hear one, or catch a student texting or talking on it. Parents calling their student during class are JUST as obnoxious and need to be put in their place: ie - I would not call a parent and interrupt a meeting of theirs, they should not interrupt my class. ARG!

I work in the school district and I am a mom. Both of my daughters have cell phones, we have them because we no longer have a home phone and because of our busy schedules. They have rules that they have to follow and one of the top rules is no phones allowed on during class time. They can call me or there dad at lunch if they need to get ahold of us and then shut off again and turn them on after school. I have left my girls messages during the day because things will come up that they will need to know at the end of the day. One of the rules is that they are only allowed to check them at lunch and after school only.

I believe that they don't need to be necessarly banned the administrator and teachers need to have rules about their use in schools. It could be a contract of some sort between the parents the child and school. With consequences of taking it away from the child and parent has to come into the school to get the phone. I don't know if, it is illegal the contract could have a rule that if it has to be taken away a second time then it is property of the school district until the end of the year.

I communitcate with my children teachers in the beginning of the school year and inform them that if either of my daughters phones go off in school they are allowed to confiscate them. My daughters know that if they lose their phone at school because of use then they won't have a way to communicate without using a quarter.

I agree with John Stiles above, the technology is here to stay we need to come up 21st century way of dealing with this situation. With everything, there are going to be people that violate the rules but if they know that there is a consequeces they are most probably to follow the rules.

I was in a hospital the other day and there is a large sign posted when you walk in the building that states no cell phone useage beyond this point. Please turn off all electronic devices. And there was a gentlemen standing in line at the check in counter talking on his phone and no one even approached him. If this is tolerated in a hospital how do we teach our chidren to follow rules at school?

always a great conversation starter..... cell phones in the hands of children in school and how effective bans versus educated use can be......

Doug Johnson is a media generalist acquaintance of mine from back in Minnesota. I thought you might enjoy reading his tongue-in-cheek proposal (reminds me of the days when there were only class sets of textbooks and no one could imagine each student having their own textbook - imagine the cost!). Doug - I hope you don't mind my sharing your Blue Skunk blog here....

A Proposal for Banning Pencils
By Doug Johnson

Ex abusu non arguitur in usum.
(The abuse of a thing is no argument against its use.)

When it comes to "technology" use in schools, every responsible educator's first concerns should be student safety and educational suitability. I am suggesting that we ban one of the most potentially harmful technologies of all -- the pencil. We must eliminate them from schools because:

1. A student might use a pencil to poke out the eye of another student.
2. A student might write a dirty word or, worse yet, a threatening note to another student, with a pencil.
3. One student might have a mechanical pencil, making those with wooden ones feel bad.
4. The pencil might get stolen.
5. Pencils break and need repairing all the time.
6. Kids who have pencils might doodle instead of working on their assignments or listening to the teacher.

Oh, sure, kids might actually use a pencil to take notes or compose a paper -- but really, what's the chance of that? Want More?

Sounds pretty absurd, doesn't it? But listen to the reasons teachers and administrators on our district technology committee gave for banning iPods and MP3 players from the classroom:

1. They might get stolen.
2. They make kids who can't afford them feel bad.
3. Kids might listen to them instead of to the teacher.
4. Who knows what kinds of lyrics the kids might be listening to?
5. Kids might listen to test answers.

Oh, sure, kids might actually use them to study, to replay their French vocabulary lesson, or to listen to audio books, an NPR broadcast, or a teacher-created lecture -- but really, what's the chance of that?

I cringe whenever I hear a district or school "banning" cell phones, student blogs, e-mail, flash drives, chat, personally owned laptops, or game sites. Student access to the Internet itself was hotly debated in the mid-90s. Each of those technologies can and does have positive educational uses. Each of those technologies is a big part of many kids' lives outside of school. And yes, each of these technologies has the potential for misuse.

One of my biggest worries has always been that by denying access in school to technologies that students find useful and meaningful, we make school more and more irrelevant to our "Net Genners." (One of our students on the advisory board had the courage to say he concentrates better in study hall and the library when his digital music player drowns out other distractions.) When are we going to learn to use the kids' devices for their benefit rather than invent excuses to outlaw them?

My experience is that the more familiar educators are with a new technology, the less likely they are to restrict its use by students. When we old-timers experience a technology's benefit ourselves, the more we understand its benefit to students.

I have heard ot said in academic circles that the students of today may be suffering from "fucntional illiteracy". One of the manifestations of this "illiteracy" is "an inability to use technology effectively" (actual comment). If students are able to transmit images of exams or answers via visual or text media using cellphones, I would say they are quite functionally literate.
If a teacher does not want cellphone cheating, texting or interruptions in the classroom, the teacher should make a policy and enforce that policy in his/her classroom.
It is sad, but society as a whole has been slow to adopt cell phone ettiquette. Many people leave their phones on in movie and live theaters. I recall a parent of a local high school student answering a cell phone during a school play and saying aloud, as they walked towards the lobby,"I can't talk now, I'm at a play."
I ask my students to turn off any cell phones or pagers durring my class. What they do beyond my doors, is not my concern. I explain to them that it is common courtesy to keep such devices off during a class session, and that a wall phone is available for emergency purposes.
My ointis, if you do not want to be bothered by cell phones in the classroom and do not want to deal with high-tech cheating, make a policy and enforce it. Don't wait for or ask the school or the state to make such policy for you.

When was the last time a student did not do what you asked them to not do? Banning cell phones in schools will create an underground of cell phone users.

I feel that students should not have cell phones in school becsuae it is a distraction to them and their peers and teachers.

Cell phones do not harm or hinder the education of a student. It is when students make poor choices of how and when they use their cell phone that the educational process is disrupted. I believe a school needs to have a policy that gives guidelines to appropriate use of cell phones and consequences for violations.

The policy in Chicago seems to work well. Use of cell phones during school hours is prohibited, but possession is allowed. I would not feel comfortable sending my child on her daily 45 minute commute to school if she didn't have one. New York City is being ridiculous and unrealistic!

When I was young, my mom insisted I carry a dime. I used dimes at ubiquitous pay phones after school, at the lodge where my youth group met,, and (rarely) at the corner. Today pay phones are virtually nonexistent. Any responsible parent would want their child to have a cell phone today. Simple phones which allow kids to call a few phone numbers (home, mom’s work, 911, etc.) but which have no distracting bells and whistles are ideal.
Under normal circumstances the cell phone should be off and out of sight from before school until afterwards. If a phone comes out in my classroom, I take it and tell the kids to see the assistant principal after school. (First offense, the kid can pick it up with nothing but a short lecture. Second offense, only the parent can pick it up. There haven’t ever been any third offenses.)
But if there ever is an emergency in my classroom, I am depending on my students’ phones to call for help because I don’t own a cell and MY CLASSROOM HAS NO PHONE!

Every class situation is unique and rules applied should not be across the board. Teachers should respect children as people who can make decisions in their lives with the guidance from adults. Teachers with parents can have a conference with the children of the class and discuss the issues of using cell phones. Discuss the pros and cons of using the cell phones and how can one solve the problems arising from using the cell phones. Allow the children to make the decision and formulate the policy in regards to the use of cell phones. Children must be part of the policy making and the rules and regulations binding it. Children can abide by the instructions that they can agreed upon and it is only through making them be part of the "law making" that they will be committed and responsible. Children must also be informed that these rules are not for life and it can be reviewed over time so as to make them realised that they can take control of their own lives.

I am finding that the policies are as good as the teachers who are enforcing school policy. I have also found that it is becoming a generational thing. Veteran teachers are usually the enforcers of the school policy but new, younger teachers seem to be more accepting of students use of cell phones. Whatever policy is in effect in your district is as good as the teachers/staff who adhere to it. I believe that there is a time and a place for their use and the classroom is not the place. Out of site and silent works for me. I have my 16 year old carrying a phone and she understands that if it is used during school hours there will be consequences. I monitor the account.

Yes, I feel cell phones should be restricted during school hours. They are distracting during the school day, and I have known students in past, who have gotten their cell phones stolen.

Cell phones are not allowed at all at my school, not even by the teacher, however, several teachers use them in the absence of students. Several teachers also 'carry them' to use to call parents on the spot, while incurring behavioral issues from students.

I can also see the advantage for teachers, in that it is an immediate source of communication in an emergency situation.When teaching in an urban environment security and safety is definately an ever present issue.

High school students at my school still bring them, and 'turn them in' at the beginning of the day for teachers to keep until school is over.

I agree that if we teach students to be responsible for the use of their cell phones, perhaps the discipline would work itself out thereby create an atmosphere conducive to using the cell phone as a tool for learning; especially, those with text message capabilities.

Although this is more of a Middle/High School problem, I thought you would enjoy reading this discussion board. I view it more as a peak into the future, than an educational issue in itself.

Cell Phones are a disruption to the learning process. We have goals and objectives and unless the cell phone activity is written in the lesson it does not meet the learning standards of the subject being taught. The cell phone is a problem to the teacher not the students. The teacher has to figure out a way to deal with the problem. It really helps to have administration back up, but that is not reality. In a 55 minute period with 30plus students in a classroom the cell phone does not add to the blooms taxonomy of teaching or the teenage mind to absorb all the pearls of wisdom for that hour. Is there a problem?

the real problem with cell phones is the constant text-messaging the kids use. Most kids won't actually talk in front of the teacher on the phone; that's too obvious! It is the modern-day equivalent of writing & passing notes in class. It wasn't allowed then and shouldn't be now. How 'bout the teacher reads the text messages aloud in front of the whole class?

Forget about most parents enforcing the regulation. How many adult ignoramuses have I seen at school concerts taking calls in the middle of the performance? (Or just talking period...).

How in the world did we ever survive without constant phone contact when we were young? Sorry- just don't buy the "neccesity" argument. Kids should have to put the things in their lockers first thing and keep them there all day. Any real emergency can be handled through the school office- just like in the ancient days!

Whew! What a blog . . . . When I began reading this blog, I thought I had a firm opinion about cellphones in schools. As a product of the Columbine disaster and as a classroom teacher myself, I have a passionate belief in the necessary (if rare) need for cellphones as a critical means of communication. My classroom does not have a phone (although I do - and while it is always in silent mode, I ALWAYS have it with me in the room). Fortunately, this is rarely needed for an actual emergency - but it is great comfort to me and to my student to know it is there. I make clear that emergency communication is always available and that should an emergency in their own lives occur, a message can be delivered (in person) from an administrator via parent contact at the office. All other communication (e.g. changes in after school activities, or pick-up information) can always be left on voice mail which can then (very sensibly) be checked either at lunch or after school.

Placing phones in lockers is simply an invitation to theft. I believe that possession is fine - I don't even see the problem of using them in the hallways between classes. But any use (other than that described above) in the classroom should be STRICTLY prohibited. It is precisely that advanced technology described by Bob at the beginning of this blog that makes use in the classroom so dangerous. As a substitute for (legitimate) internet access? Come on. Very few high school classrooms these days don't have at least one internet connection (even if it is just the teacher's). Personal music in the classroom to provide "entertainment" while working? Again - come on! Why must our students be always entertained? While I strive to make learning entertaining, the fact is that it is sometimes tedious. So what? Suck it up and stop whining. That very technology that Bob - and several others - have mentioned enables smart students to cheat, in increasingly clever ways. If only those same students would access those brain cells for learning instead of thinking up ways to circumvent the system.

Sadly, while I don't believe we have yet reached the 'bottom line' on this issue, the cellphone ban in most schools has indeed driven students to furtive activity. I say let them carry the phones - just restrict their use to their own personal time.

there has been an apparent transformation of our society in the last decade. We have become more security conscious and seem to need constant communication. Added to this need is the availability of nearly instantaneous communication via cell phone or the internet. The interent is now available on properly configured laptops in most states wirelessly. It is not even necessary to be connected to a school server. This technology is still a bit pricey and the laptop is a bit more conspicuous than a cell phone, but the technology is there and growing. We are a wireless society, always connected.
In the heat of technological advances, we often forget that we have always had fairly instantaneous communication in public places. I will not say all, but I would dare to say that most public schools are equipped with telephones. I recall visiting a high school sometime back in the primitive nineties that had a payphone in the hallway for student use. My "vacationing" college sophomore son uses a cell phone at home even when the landline is there just waiting (usually waiting for some nuisance call tryig to sell me something). He will always answer his cell phone, but often ignores the ringing landline.
The point is that the communication is convenient and available. That is why we see it in classrooms and other public places.
In the classroom, it is up to the teacher to make rules and enforce them as to what is proper and acceptable behaviour. Texting or talking during class is not acceptable behaviour and I do not allow it. I don't mind an occassional interruption because of a phone ringing. The office occassionally interrupts a class, looking for a particular student or to make an announcement. I do not expect students to be getting or recieving regular calls during class time.
Cheating is cheating wether it be by electronic or other means. Cheating has always been a violation of school and classroom rules and should be dealt with for what it is, cheating, not for the method employed.

I've read many of the preceding accounts & skimmed the rest. Interestingly, the tech specialists among the respondents are shaking their collective heads with a sigh while saying, Embrace the technology. I also noted they aren't on the front lines of classroom teaching either. I am both & I know that cell phones are disruptive to the educational process. Would they also desire embracing mp3 players & video iPods into the classroom? Unless they can be brought in with educationally sound purposes, they need to remain at the door. Just because something is 'ubiquitous' doesn't mean it belongs in every possible environment.
I wholeheartedly agree that the primary discussion should be around responsible use. Cell phones are here to stay (note the teacher from the "lower socioeconomic town" bemoaning cell phone usage - it's not just tech of the advantaged). And how does one - teacher, administrator or district - counter a parent wanting his/her child to be available for anytime contact. The responsibility is for parents as well. (My 13-year-old daughter has a cellphone she takes to school with her. I have admonished her to turn it on ONLY on her way to school & after school. We often discuss responsible use - & have lots of examples of adults as well as youths in stores, theaters, & restaurants to begin these discussions.)
Much of the previous comments, though well-thought out & considered, are moot as long as our culture supports immediacy of contact & doesn't expect consideration of others.

Cell phones need to be banned from the school. Children are not there to text message others or call friends during the school day. Cell phones offer another way for cheating and class disruption.
If the Student or parent needs to make contact they can go through the office. They are required to go through the office anyway if there is an issue that requires the child leave early.

I am a math teacher, and I have a degree in MIS -- so many would assume that I should be on the side of technology, however, many of our high school students have very expensive cell phones (and IPODs as well) but cannot afford to keep themselves supplied with paper, pens and pencils. Most students taking Algebra/Trig cannot manage to have the correct calculator, but have the appropriate cell phone!

I have a cell phone, and it's use is restricted to emergencies ( "emergency" is a foreign concept to most of my students).

I would like to see them banned, particularly if the priorities are phone first, calculator later.

One thing not discussed in this thread is the hidden effect of cell phone use on our young. It seems the consensus of the majority of educators here that they should be disinvited from the classroom. Free time, hallway travels, lunch periods are different. Talking to people on a phone while in a crowd disallows interacting with the crowd, with individuals here and now. I as an adult with years of experience and the supposed wisdom that comes with it find myself reaching for my cell phone to call someone, anyone, when I'm lonely. Driving in a car, waiting somewhere, in the company of people I don't know, any time bothersome solitude creeps in. Why is it not better for students to interact with the people around them than have them retreat into converations with those absent? Does this practice truly evidence technological advancement, meaning making human life BETTER (not just faster)? Watch your children using their phones to text friends while they're in the car with you. Is your relationship enhanced? Why can we not make decisions about when and where to allow technology to intrude on our lives with the baseline question being does it make our lives better? The Amish, who we look at wide-eyed and with a slight smile, chose not to allow technology to intrude on their lives. There are phone available for emergencies in every neighborhood, but not in homes. They make the decision that the loss of intimate contact within the family that would inevitably come with them is too high a price to pay. They have close families, both immediate and extended; close community ties. It's not just phones being banned that leads to this difference in our communities and theirs; but it is the same basic decision. They closely investigate what the long-term effect of a technology will be on their lives before they let it in. (And lest we laugh them off as backwards, they don't even use tractors or computers or own cars for goodness sake, please remember that their small businesses, half of which are farms, remain solvent and vibrant 9 out of 10 times, compared to our 7 out of 10 that fail; their crop yields are so high that other countries fly them in to teach them how to replicate their success; their families are stable). We may not be able to have, or even want, a lot of what makes up Amish life; but we could learn from them that technology only need intrude as far as we want it to. It is not inevitable. We need to make informed, deliberate choices and not be drifted along on the vague notion that you can't stop "progress."

We have a 'carry, but off' policy in a middle school, which is ludicrous! All that happens here is that they turn them down, and then make calls on bathroom breaks, or text their friends in school. During school hours students have no need for a phone, we have plenty here. When we're testing, we have to have to tell them to turn them off, or hand them in for the testing! How ridiculous is that? Middle school kids will not 'fess up a phone, we confiscate if we see them, and the parents have to pick them up, but all it does is make them sneakier about use. High School, sure, many of them drive and have major after school events, parents like to be able to feel they can contact or be contacted, but it's a false sense of safety which relies on the sensibleness of the kids. My county allowed them in HS for a couple of years, and then parents started yelling that it wasn't fair to ban them from middle school, my child has to walk home, oh, dear, how did we all survive with only pay phones and the office phone.....next we'll have to allow them in elementary so that they can call their older sibs who are late picking them up.....

Absolutely no to cell phones in schools. It's absurd for parents to wage a lawsuit to allow cell phones in school - it's school, not kids wandering through Mozambique. Parents need a wake-up call and should realize that their kids are whining about needing a phone in school - and the parents are being completely duped. Not all kids, but many, will use the phone in school for than just "checking in at home". Come on parents, let's all get clued in.

Even at the Elementary School level, the students have cell phones. I see this as a distraction in class, at this age, most use their cell phones to text their friends that are in another room in the building!
Even with this in mind, I don't think cell phones should be banned, I just think that stricter codes need to be enforced by the schools.
Students should not have access to their cell phones during class time, there are many land lines within the school if an emergency arises.
Parents, as well, can contact the main office of the school if they need to get in touch with their children during the school day.

I know the push is to advance our students in the field of technology, but, I don't feel cell phones can accomplish that when not all students are priviledged to own one.

I truly see both sides of the issue, but come firmly down on the side of "permit them but control their use". Several observations: 1.Yes, my generation, and those before me, made it through our school years without cell phones. But in spite of the cold war, possibility nuclear attack ( remember those ridiculus drills when we hid under our desks?) violence today is real, not just a threat. 2. Students have always found ways to cheat in class, often using ingeneous methods. As previously noted, a cell phone is no harder to monitor than a crib sheet. 3. Ringing cell phones during class are truly a distruption and distraction (although no more so than the frequent PA interruptions I've encountered in many schools), rather than throw the baby our with the bath water, hold students accountable for improper use of the phones.

I wonder where some of the writers live, with comments like "the kids can leave the cell phones in their cars" and "it's school, not kids wandering through Mozambique." I don't know about life elsewhere, but here in New York City life is complicated, and it can be dangerous, as those of us who lived through 9/11 with our children know.

No one is arguing for cell phone use during class. But banning them from the school effectively bans their use before and after school. People who say "We didn't have cell phones when I was a kid and I survived" forget that they lived--for the most part--in simpler, safer times, with lots of stay-at-home moms to monitor kids whereabouts. After-school activites were not as complicated, either. Fewer kids traveled to school across the city on public transportation. And who's to say that if cell phones existed back then, worried parents wouldn't have made sure their kids had them?

I empathize with the teachers, and have no problems with confiscating phones that ring in class, but my kid's safety comes first!

P.S. Not all kids have lockers to leave the phones in, let alone cars!

Phones in class reduce the quality of education. If essential for safety, provide "phone lockers" outside the classroom buiding. A cell phone in my classroom means the student receives an automatic "F" on the next quiz or test. It is the parent's responsibility to teach values in the home, establish rules and require their children to follow them. My job is to educate. Parents should not relinquish their responsibility to a stranger. We have to hold parents accountable. Many teachers I work with are scared to stand up and say there is a right way and a wrong way to raise a child and that it is up to the parents to determine that. Many teachers are too weak to say I am here to teach not babysit. We need to be strong and force the issue of discipline, values, etc. back into the home where it should be. I don't have time to teach my studnts "why" it is wrong to lie, cheat, and steal. There's little time and fewer resources for the highly gifted students and those who want to learn. We take our nation's best and turn them into mediocre students. I challenge teachers to refuse to take on the role of social worker. I call on my colleagues to unite and say I was born to educate every student in my class, including the highly intelligent... to hehlp them reach their potential. I know I won't accept less. I love what I do and so do my students. They flock to my office. (Even those who haven't signed up for my class.) They crave structure and rules. Most students want to learn. PLEASE, don't be fooled into thinking you should be required to babysit and not teach. Japan and other nations support the strong, too. They graduate and go on to become the enlightened leaders improving society. While we need to help those who struggle in school, the "crime" in America is that we ignore the brightest who are there to learn. I have liberal and conservative students coming to me. This is NOT a Republican-Democratic issue. It is about educating our nation's youth. When we contiue to allow issues, such as cell phone use, to enter the agenda, our students lose. Parents should be held accountable. Cell phones aren't needed if parents did their job. If we give in they never will be forced to do their part. I may sound harsh when I say then let their children suffer the consequences. Why should those who are in school to learn suffer? I, however, refuse, the stop teaching. I won't become a babysitter where most of the conversation in class is on a cell about boyfriend-girlfriend issues. I control my classroom. I don't let the kids rule. Maybe I am politically incorrect... but I am not scared to take a stand. I am a teacher. I require my students to abide by the rules. Those who don't want to learn are kicked out of my class. Those who need help are welcomed. I work with struggling students who want to improve themselves. I work with their parents. It is a team effort. The parents set the value structure and handle discipline. I provide the academic education. Wow, what a concept... a fair, tough teacher whose students learn and come back and say thank you even years later. My last challenge to my colleagues... teach your students (without cell phones) to the level of their ability. Our highly and profoundly gifted are lost in the earliest years upon entering the system. I am not scared to say "not all children learn at the same speed" or by the same method. "Brilliant" is a good thing to be. It doesn't mean better than another, it DOES mean their minds need different challenges. Don't abandon our gifted.

We didn't have cell phones when I attended school is the common response . But we also had more stay at home moms or grandmothers back then also. Our world had changed dramatically. I strongly agree that cell phones should be turned off when school is in session, but not banned. Since I work full-time and so does my husband, my 12yr old is on his own until we arrive home. I just want to be able to speak to my child when school ends each day to know that he's OK and where he's headed be it home, extracurricular activity, etc.

Cell phones should not be allowed in school! Our system does not check students for cell phones, but if a phone rings in class or a student has the phone out it is confiscated. Students are not only taking pictures of tests, but they are also taking pictures in the locker rooms and bathrooms. I'm sure parents would be very upset to see inappropriate pictures of their child on the Internet. When we take a phone from a child we keep it six weeks before we return the phone. Parents are not very happy about the decision we made, but students do not have cell phones out using them in class.

We got our teenage daughter a cell phone for safety reasons. We made it very clear when she could and could not use the phone. She has followed these rules very well, and so far it has not been an issue. If parents would set very clear rules about cell phone use, there may not be as much trouble in school.

It seems that cell phones should be treated like any other thing: if students use them in a disruptive or dishonest way (e.g. to cheat) during class time, then they should be confiscated. Otherwise, students should be able to have them on their person--as long as they stay on silent and students do not make or receive calls during class.

Hi, all. I think under no circumstances cell phones should be used during class time. Teachers don't earn degrees to spend their time babysitting kids who can't obey the rules. In my county, cell phones that are used during class time are confiscated and held in the principal's office until the end of the day. Kids get one warning - the second time it happens, they receive in-school suspension. Unless it's a dire emergency, children should not be allowed to use them except after the 3 p.m. bell rings.

While I do not see the need for cell phones in school, some of the comments appear to be from people who cannot control their classroom.

I agree with A.W. and Haley. I teach part time at the local elementary school my son attends, but my daughter is at the middle school. Her school day and my work day end at exactly the same time--supposedly. But, as all teachers know, it's nearly imossible to get out the door at the end of your contractual work day. Sometimes, I find that I won't make it home by the time my daughter's bus arrives, or I cannot pick her up as previously arranged. My daughter's very basic cell phone (no camera, lacking most of the bells and whistles) has been a godsend for us. She has my number, my husband's number (although he works 25 miles away and also travels frequently), and a neighbor's number programmed into her phone. She knows she's only to use the phone outside of class time. She has demonstrated a great deal of responsibility by following our rules--and the school's, and by refraining from using her cell phone as a toy.

Our students are allowed to have cellphones as long as they are not used while school is in session. If we teachers see a cellphone in use during school hours we confiscate it, label it, and turn it in to the office. The student cannot get the phone back until he completes a Saturday work program or spends several days after school doing custodial work. I would prefer that cellphones be banned completely so that I do not have to document so many transgressions, but I concur that in this day and time cellphones are a proven safety tool and therefore are a necessary evil. As long as they do not interfere with my instruction time, I have no problem with students having them in their possession.

CELLPHONES....... As a school administrator I beleive that every must be required to carry a cell phone in the event that the school administration, school guidance counselor, teacher or school clinic can find the parent when needed during the school day. I find it amazing that we can never get ahold of the parent when we need them in the event of a discipline issue or when a child is injured. Yet, the parents are telling us the school that there child is going to have a cell phone. When parents take responsibilty of their child then only then should we consider the use by students in after school hours use to reach the parent. As a school administrator I have never denied a student from calling his parent or the use of our pay phone. This is getting totally out of control especiall now with the picture phones being used in the showers or bathrooms and posting the image on the Internet. We are the school, we do not tell parents how to raise their children. Therefore let us do what is right in establishing a school climate for learning not cell phone, picture or messaging use throught the school day.
This is common sense............

Without a doubt cell phones should be restricted. Business meetings and professionals are required to exercise this courtesy. During class hours cell phones should remain off --- not silent or on vibrate, but OFF.

The X generation may have "bonded" a bit too much with the Y generation. Let them grown up!

Cell Phones! Most people have them including myself, however, I think there is an appropriate time and place to use it. School is not one of these places. They should be turned off and left that way until school is over and the students are out the door.

As for the excuse that the parent needs to get in touch with a student is a poor one. There are land lines within every school and if it is important enough parents can call the school and leave a message or ask to speak with the student. Parents know where there children are between the school hours so why would that need to wonder.

I tell parents in my district and circle of friends, if your child is traveling on the bus and subway more than an hour away. Give the phone to another Parent to give to your child after school. when they are on their way home, so you don't have to break the school rules. If your child can walk home then it is not needed . But someone needs to note that many of the public phones do not work near most schools.
So please ask the Mayor to enforce some type of
ruling that within the students routes to school
that the public phones are working, and can receive incoming calls between the hours of
6:45am-8:45am & 2:45-4:45pm. Because many of
the neighborhoods public phones service was cut
due to illegal crime and cell phones usuage

9/11 and the Black Out cause many people to not be able to reach out with their cellphones. The only form of communication we had was the landline phones. We must teach our children
emergency procedures and practice to remove any of the problems. But once in school the Principals are their Parents until school is out. So Please Update Your BLUE CARD, it is your
line protection. I even give one to the Parent Coordinator within my children school for extra back up.

As a parent of six and an educator for the majority of my adult life, I have mixed feelings on this issue. I do require that the teen-aged children who drive keep a charged cell with them at all times for their safety and my piece of mind. If an issue arises, they have no excuse for me to go less than well informed.

During the school day, they are in their place of employment. They are well aware that during work hours, they are there to work, just as any responsible employee- not to chat on the cell phone or deal with personal matters.

Etiquette should not really be an issue. Professionals can and do get 'letters of concern' from their human resource department for being distracted from supervisory duties due to being involved with his or her cell phone.

If children and families wish to use the argument of safety, then they ought to also be accountable for the transitional readiness argument in that teachers and other professionals are also to keep phones locked up except for in instances of family emergency or while in use for professional purposes (ie.: securing parental contact)

Respectfully submitted,
J Ward

Why is this so difficult?

1. Allow cell phones in school. They are an important means of communication.
2. Confiscate the phone if used during school hours. If this infraction happens more than N times, consequence escalates as for any other significant disturbance: Parental call, suspension, expulsion.
3. Damage/Loss of device on school grounds while in owner's possession or after confiscation is at owner's risk.

What's the problem???

I recently completed my first year of teaching as a fifth grade teacher. While I was surprised children this age even had cellphones, I grew to understand that some children had them as a way of checking in with working parents, etc. It even helped when one parent was stuck in traffic and running late to pick a student up from an after-school program.

My school did not have an official mandate, but I did not allow them in my class. If a student brought one, it was to stay in his or her locker for after school use only. I also made sure parents were aware their child had a cellphone.

One student disobeyed my rule and brought his phone along on a field trip. He lost it, but understood that it was his own responsibility. He was quite upset and crying, so I did help him back-track his steps a bit before our return to no avail. Lucky for him his parents had a free replacement plan.

Personally, I found it convenient to have my own cell phone for parent calls during my planning or break time, as time was very limited. I don't see a problem, unless a student/staff abuses the privilege.

I do feel there should be an agreement contract drawn up between the student/parents/school regarding bringing a cellphone in school, so everyone is clear about the expectations and responsibilities.

I think that we need to focus on teaching students to be responsible for their cell phones rather than sending students the message that cell phones are a bad thing.

I think that we need to be better models as adults and be consistent in what we preach and what rules we set.

I think that schools need to enforce strict rules about the use of cell phones rather than ban the use of cell phones.

Let's face it--cell phones are a part of the 21st century technological world. Schools overall do not seem to be consistent in enforcing discipline policies and rules PERIOD.

Since the Columbine Tragedy here in Denver and the World Trade Center Tragedy I have changed my view about cell phones. Cell phones are essential in case of an emergency. Cell phones are a wonderful technology that is here to stay.

Let's get real and focus on issues that are really important--like enforcing zero tolerance against discipline in the schools.

Enough with even glancingly high-minded responses to this topic. There will not be consensus on what a "better model as adults" is. And, how does "practice what we preach" have anything to do with the topic of cell phones at school? Way too abstract - of course people need discipline! But, that's a billion miles above the topic, we may as well talk about not wearing underwear twice. So, do you have an analogous adult context? Not the office, not a restaurant, not a crowded commuter train, not loud conversations. Cheating on a job interview exam maybe??

And to the person saying he/she didn't have a phone when he/she was a kid, did you have a COMPUTER to send email or to have discussions with far away strangers???!! NO, so get with it - modes and needs of communication change and YOU, like many youngsters, are using them to good effect. Of course what hasn't changed is that people need focus to learn.

Trying to get agreement on cellphone etiquette is ridiculous. But, since cellphones are so important for OTHER aspects of life, banning them is also ridiculous. So, again,

Basic ingredients...
1. Ban is stupid

To taste...
2. Confiscate if interruptive
3. Take disciplinary action if (2.) is repeated

If you want something to worry about, then consider this: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2119176/shocking-tooth-mobiles

Cell phones in school.. what a hot issue. My own children (teen agers) have cell phones. They keep them in the car or their lockers. They know they will loose them for good if I hear they have been in the classroom. The school I will be teaching at in the fall, has all electronic equipment is off and in locker immediatley upon entering school. I think that will be hard to enforce - we shall see. Yet camera phone are the worst, you have no idea someone has one, and what they are taking pictures off. So my feeling is keep them out of the schools.

At my school we were lenient about cell phones until we discovered a student text-messaging all the answers to a test to other students who would be taking the test later in the day. Unfortunately, this is how cell technology is being used. And this is why students must keep their phones in their lockers and turned off.

As a teacher and a parent, I think that students should have access to their cellphones, but not during class time. The phones should be off unless there is a specific urgent need to have it on (if there is a family emergency that they need to be contacted ASAP), but the teacher needs to be aware of it ahead of time. There have been emergency situations where I have been able to contact my own children - such as a lockdown - and I had peace of mind knowing that they were safe. Cellphones should always be off during any testing for obvious reasons.

As a teacher and a parent, I think that students should have access to their cellphones, but not during class time. The phones should be off unless there is a specific urgent need to have it on (if there is a family emergency that they need to be contacted ASAP), but the teacher needs to be aware of it ahead of time. There have been emergency situations where I have been able to contact my own children - such as a lockdown - and I had peace of mind knowing that they were safe. Cellphones should always be off during any testing for obvious reasons.

At our school, students have found their cellphones useful when they have had trouble with friends. In one case, the student called truant older friends to come onto campus "to beat up" the offender. Shortly after, the friends zoomed up the driveway in their car. In another case, a girl called her mother because she was having some sort of dispute with another girl. The mother showed up in the office ready to fight anyone and everyone.

I wish cell phone use was more restricted at our wild and woolly urban school, but then again we'd have to have someone to enforce it.

The subject of cell phones in school CLASSROOMS seems to be more important than getting an education itself. Is it really more urgent that equity in education?
The fact is we are wasting time on a non issue (No, you cannot have a cell phone in class. PERIOD!), or to quote Cosby’s “Dr. Huxtable:”
“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard!”
Just because this is a "tech generation" does not mean we give in to everything. I've had a student who called her parent to beat a teacher because she didn't want to take notes in class!
We are the adults, and should act responsibly. I would rather see a movement to get all students laptops, or fight against global warming, racism, and poverty, rather than something so selfish, and so against the traditions of real learning.
Schools are supposed to be centers of learning, so get your work done, and talk later. We've always had provisions for emergencies, and I think cell phone users, and advocates should look at the fact maybe this is a contributing factor as to why America's standing in Science and Math is failing. Our students talk more, (students), than study. Adults need to stop enabling them to fail. Face the facts, and the excuses. Nothing is more important than your child’s educational future.

To Patricia: what-ever! AGain, chill with the high principled tangents. "Is it really more urgent that equity in education?" WHAT?? Who said that? No-duh that education comes first, and that's why this is a ridiculous issue to expand beyond this...

1. No ban
2. Confiscate for misuse
3. Escalate #2 until student is not present

...that is, it's ridiculous to think that the discussion is really more than outlining rules. If you boil down everyone's pro/cons, you get the above sensible compromise.

It's not a "tech" generation of kids, it's THE way PEOPLE communicate. A movement to get all students laptops? What for? Talk about politically charged - what company gets to provide that? Which governor gets kick-backs on that? We're talking about the simple regulation of a very real and important standard that EVERYONE uses and provides THEMSELVES. Don't try to bend this into a "how do we turn this around to make it advantageous to education," or, "how do we spend this critical energy better." Here's how: no ban, confiscate for abuse, escalate till gone. Low cost end of story!

Guess what - cheaters will lose in the end. Don't try to run with that statement and say I'm OK with people cheating. Take the phone, give an F. Done. If they don't get caught, they're just lucky anyhow, or maybe you think they're truly criminal minded, or we're selling them short (by giving them more opportunities to "cheat?"). So the heck what if Jimmy cheater gets a better grade in X. He'll get his rump kicked in Harvard. If not, then he belonged there in the first place! These are all topics for SOME OTHER PLACE!

The issue of cellphones in schools is solved by a simple set of rules: No ban, confiscate if abused, eject miscreant for excessive abuse.

I really just looked in here to see why this discussion was attracting so much attention. I wish there was this much passion attached to a few other topics.

My son's district just adopted a policy allowing possession but not use. This is fortunate. One early poster remarked that if students need to call home to confirm arrival then either the school or the community had big problems. Welcome to my world.

I have had several panicked searches when my son, at varying ages, but primarily middle school and upward, did not arrive at the place he was supposed to be. These searches were hindered by the fact that our schools don't answer the phone after the last bell (even when there are events in the building), bus drivers sometimes do pretty silly things (not telling anyone when a kid storms off in anger instead of riding the bus home, letting a kid get off at the wrong stop--or worse, putting a kid off at the wrong stop).

On the one hand, adolescents pretty much universally suffer from brain-leak, on the other hand, too many adults abdicate a duty of care based on the size of the kid. I insist that my son carry a cell phone. When he has been using it stupidly and running up minutes, I can lock it down so he can only call two family members and 911. Absolutely this is different from the way things were when I was growing up. So what?

I have sat in many classrooms as an observer and been shocked at the amount of text messaging, game playing and disuptive ringing that goes on. The first thing that matters in education is instruction and cell phones clearly detract from it. The best defense I have heard is that they might have the potential to be used for good, but I have not seen any actual applications. Further, the potential positive applications (podcasts, recorded lectures, web research) can be done outside of the classroom and need not replace actual participation in class. When school districts say it is okay for these toys to be used in school, they send the message that lots of things count more than instruction and the education of the child.

Cell phones (smart phones) are the next generation educational tools. They will not disappear in schools just because we want them to...so that traditional instruction can occur. Embrace the technology...develop new and innovative ways for them to incorporate the "globalization" of the educational environment. The "third world...so to speak" has embraced this technology to future business and industry as well as education. If we choose to compete with these other economies then engage students with these, anytime anywhere computing communication devices. Educators....start thinking of creative applications for classroom instruction rather than removal. The cell phone etiquettes will develop as a result of these uses in school a natural ground for instruction.

The either/or approach of many schools has led to ludicrous situations (I'm thinking of the Zero Tolerance policies that suspend a student for taking an aspirin!)and resistance on the part of students and parents. Cell phones need not be banned--from lunchrooms, hallways, etc. They should be turned off in classrooms--not only because they distract, but because they have introduced a new approach to cheating via text messaging.

I have been a school principal for the past 18 years prior to becoming a PD Coordinator. The problem with cell phones is as common how as chewing gum was in the ancient past. It cannot be absolutely controlled without becoming a policing unit in the education setting. I would suggest that the schools be equipted electronically as a no signal zone. If this were possible, it would not matter if the students had cell phones, they simply would not work.

In N.Y.C. students need the phones while traveling to and from school. During class it is not necessary for the cellphone to be on at all, but traveling with a way to comunicate puts students and parents at ease. Some students may have the responsibility of caring for younger siblings and picking them up. If transportation is late or inoperative contacts can be made. Having a teenage asthmatic gives concern as to a need to always carry a cell phone for use in an emergency. My son's school has a policy where students can bring them, but must turn them off during class time. They are allowed to use the cafeteria at the end of the day to make a call if necessary because administration does not want them making calls outside of the school building because they then become targets for theft in the area that the school is located.

Aren't schools supposed to be, in part, preparing students for the workplace? If my workplace banned cell phones completely, most of us who work here would quit. If the school my daughter attends banned cell phones completely, either we would home school or she would drop out.

That being said, at the beginning of most work meetings, most cell phones are set to "vibrate" instead of make noise. My daugter's phone and her friends phones stay on vibrate during the school day - and we have had only one time she forgot to make sure it was on vibrate. The school reenforced what she had learned at home by sending a warning - to my cell phone.

As each new technology becomes integrated into the daily lives of younger citizens, instead of whining and banning it, schools should let their classrooms reflect the workplace- whether by letting students respectfully use cellphones, insisting that all writing assignments be turned in as a printout of an editable word-processing file, or teaching math students to use computer programs to complete assignments.

Oh my goodness, will you all please stop! This is my fourth posting and NO ONE GETS IT! This is NOT an intellectual/change the world subject.

1. There will never be agreement on how to use cellphones for education. Computers have been in classrooms for 25 years and there is STILL no agreement. SO DROP IT! NOT RELEVANT!!!

2. Here's the solution to all you whiners about cheating and text messaging distractions: CONFISCATE THE PHONE IF USED!!!

3. And all of you dogmatic losers that want to ban cellphones, DROP THE IDEOLOGICAL BS!!! This is a practical matter of communication that exists IN SPITE OF/OUTSIDE OF education. And if you're even SLIGHTLY poopy about this point, THEN REFER TO MY POINT #2!!! It solves EVERYTHING!

The reason why this subject is getting so much traffic is because almost everyone here is trying to make OTHER POINTS. This is not a platform for your ill reasoned crud.

We assume correctly, and incorrectly. Technically, calling your mother to tell her that your staying after school to finish a test is socializing. Cell phones are a matter of convience, first and foremost, for most of the students. Instead of paying fifty cents for every call you want to make, and it's not even guaranteed that the person you're calling is there - first you would have to try home, then mom's cell, then dad's cell, and then go on to the work numbers and if you still can't reach anyone - it adds up.
And then there's the famous, but flimsy "distraction" excuse. I don't know... anything can be a distraction. If a student wasn't playing games on their cell phone, they may be drawing comics on paper with a pencil. Should we ban pencils and paper because they could be distracting? Good grief, like kids were never distracted and always paid attention in class until those evil cell phones were invented. The benefits of having a cell phone in school - convience, mainly, followed by not wasting money - far outweigh the "distractions", which it appears most people opposed to allowing cell phones in school seem to think that cell phones just ring left and right everywhere, and classrooms sound like wall street. The reasoning for the others is "I didn't have them, and I did just fine." Sure, you lived. But allowing them for others will make their life more convient, and it's immature to not want to allow that simply because you didn't have them and got along fine. Hell, women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, and they got along just fine. Why all the anesthesia? It's easier. I get the feeling that many of the people opposed to allowing cell phones in school just don't like children in general, so naturally would be opposed to anything that makes their lives easier.
I could be wrong...
but I don't think I am.


Mr. Parent,

You state: “Why is this so difficult?” and “What is the problem?”

Then in another reply you state "The issue of cell phones in schools is solved by a simple set of rules: No ban, confiscate if abused, eject miscreant for excessive abuse."

You are clearly unfamiliar with the terms LITIGATION and ACCOUNTABILITY. The first is overused to get a child his/her way and second is non-existent permitting the child to have his/her way.

i think cell phones should not be aloud in schools period because it causes trouble and insibordination, it causes disruptions, and they never focus in class..i would know because im in 9th grade and i see it happen everday in my school of Aberdeen. Everday i hear ringing and beeping happening and they never get taken away. Most students here text message people and then when their cell goes off from a text message back they always act like it wasn't them. It mostly happens during tests as well. And for all i know the kids in my class could be cheating from texting people. It annoys me to see sll these people with these cell phones that don't pay attention. They would rather take pictures, text, or call somebody in the middle of the class instead of learning. Thats why they should not be aloud in school period!

I think that u school be able to use a cellphone in school, except during classes. U should be able to use them during lunch and before u go to class.

I think that students should be able 2 bring their cellphones 2 school because the school I go to doesn't let us bring them which I think is wrong because other schools in Manhattan can bring their cellphones.I feel that if a student brings a cellphone 2 school and uses it during class should have it taken away until class ends, they should also put it on vibrate if they don't want the phones 2 ring.Plus, it is good 2 bring them just in case of an emergency for an example a fire could start in school and you could call your parnet 2 let them kno wat happened and that you r okay.

screw you all cellphones are friggin awsome

My sons' high school did not allow the cellphones. They survivded. They did take them with, but left them in their locker and off or on vibrate until the end of school. If I needed to let them know about something I text message them and when they turned their phone on after school they received the text message. It worked out just fine. They really didn't need them until after school anyway.


Yes, payphone calls would add up, seeing as now mom and dad have 3 or 4 numbers each at which to be reached. This I do not disagree with. However, to compare the distraction that is a cell phone to the possibe distraction of "drawing on paper with pencil" is insane. I am a first year teacher (which means I'm only 23 owned a pager at age 14, a cell since I was 15 and have had every newest electronic gadget I can get my hands on since) and trust me I do not "hate children" at this point in my career. On the contrary, it is my goal to teach them something valuable, and I find myself competing with the lure of cell phones every few minutes. Yes, students will sleep, they will doodle, they will stare blankly at a wall if it means not paying attention, but at least I can see that clearly and have the power to manipulate the situation. Let’s just disregard the observation that nearly 25% of students don’t even bring those things to class anymore but instead expect us to supply them (it’s more convenient I’m sure). I can't see every cell phone hidden under a desk or just barely slipped out of a pocket. Nor can I see the one ringing every 10 minutes and doesn’t flash a neon sign to tell me whose it is (what do I do- ignore the ringtone littered with crude lyrics every time it happens?) And no, a classroom doesn't "sound like wall street" but when every ring refocuses the entire class' attention away from the teacher AND the lesson that they are IN SCHOOL TO LEARN, even one is too many. And trust me, on average there are more rings than just one per class period.

I am offended and outraged at your notion that we teachers just hate children and want to stifle anything that might "make their lives a little easier." It's also making them a little more disrespectful (though your response makes it painfully clear that it is also a learned attitude), disengaged, and hell I'll just say it- dumber. Read their defense arguments and see how they type! They can't spell, and they even use SMS short hand on classwork, homework and even in essays on tests.

I got into this profession because I care so deeply about children and their success in life (as most teachers do- despite your appalling generalization), and I am disgusted, yet enlightened upon reading your opinion. Everything makes a little more sense now, as to how it came to be that teachers are not given the respect they deserve, nor are given the admiration they deserve, being that they've chosen a profession that requires so much personal investment with so little monetary return. We have to get the return on that investment somewhere, and utter contempt for adolescents in general just doesn’t quite pay off.

I invite you to spend a day in my classroom, or one in any school that has lenient cell phone policies, and to come back and tell us how you feel about cellphones and the inherent distractions and disruptions.

Personally, I do not think that they should be entirely banned. That would be silly and probably impossible in this modern world with such vast improvements in technology and yes, even convenience. However, a teacher should at least still have the power to establish classroom policies that give her (or him) the ability to lessen the academic impact of such devices. But parents like you take even that basic right nearly completely away. Parents whine to the higher-ups because their son/daughter had their phone taken away (FOR BLATENTLY USING IT IN CLASS) until it is given back that very day because the teacher is forced to do so by the pressured administration. These parents are to blame for phones being such an escalating problem, because now students don't even fear having it taken away because it can't be. Just have mommy or daddy call and it will be in your hand by the end of the day- at the expense of the confiscating teacher's credibility. It is just so unfair that it would be confiscated! Even if both parent and student signed county and school handbooks with the policies clearly stated, not to mention a classroom contract outlining the exact sequence of consequences that should be expected.

News Flash: The broke the rule, the student should have to explain to mommy why it is they don't have their cell phone tonight- because that is the consequence for being irresponsible with such an important possession and choosing to disobey clearly set rules. Instead, it has become such a nuisance for the child to not have a cell phone, parents cave for the sake of convenience. A wise veteran teacher has said to me on many occasions, "until the parent is inconvenienced, nothing will change." Well, we are legally no longer allowed to inconvenience the parents. In effect, students use the phones whenever they want and however they want, and there is so very little that we can do to stop it.

So yes, Parent of Teenager, it is a big deal, and it's because we fire-breathing, brow-furrowing, nasty, villains that call ourselves educators, are trying to break their young angelic spirits or to ruin their lives for the sheer joy it gives us. We are trying to mold them into the successful, well-functioning members of society that we know they have the potential to be- who are educated and have integrity, and who take responsibility for their own actions. And good grief, they should learn how to know when it is, and when it is not acceptable to use their god-forsaken cell phones.

Ms. Rehmann

Cell phones should be aloud in school because of many reasons ,1st and for most emergences are instated and a family member would need so way to get ahold of their child or sibling and a cell phone is the fastest and most acurrate way to contact your child ..I my self know of many occations were my friends have been contacted by their parents and informed that a family member in the hospital or has passed away and we need cell phones in shure the answer is clear keep cell phones in school and not out of the system

I personally think that cellphones should be allowed to be used during intervals and then during class time they should be locked away, e.g at my school St. George's Grammar School (SGGS)in Mowbray, Cape Town, South Africa there now is a new system of cellphone locker's and to tell u the truth the system isn't working because students want to use their cell phone's during interval's like listening to music, chating on mxit e.t.c and if 'we' school kids at our school are found using or any where near a cellphone during interval's it is convescated which i think is unfair... and my point over here is basically rasing the the fact that i don't see anything wrong with students using cellphones during intervals/breaks.
hope that my comment interests alot of young viewers and teachers, and that it should be taken into consideration.
Yours Sincerely.
Miss. Corazon Balfour Nolutshungu.

students should be able to have cellphones in school because pritty much any thing could happen and we need a phone to call some one

yall suck we should totally be able to have cell phones on at skool!!!!!

yall really need to shutup cuz we need to have cellphones!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!......AND YALL NEED TO STOP HATIN CUZ WERE THIRTEEN AND HAVE CELL PHONES AND YOU/YALL DON'T....SO GET A JOB AND GET A LIFE NOW WHAT HATERS!!!!!!!

i do not agree that cell phones should be banned from school because they have it in case of an emergency to call parents and let them know where they are right now and needs to really take good care and needs to know when is it a good time totake the cell phone out and when not to.Also i want to let people know that the cell phones should not be banned from school because it is for a good cause and is for a very important reason and for a good reason emergency that is why i say that a cell phone should not be banned from a school.

i do not agree that cell phones should be banned from school because they have it in case of an emergency to call parents and let them know where they are right now and needs to really take good care and needs to know when is it a good time totake the cell phone out and when not to.Also i want to let people know that the cell phones should not be banned from school because it is for a good cause and is for a very important reason and for a good reason emergency that is why i say that a cell phone should not be banned from a school.

i agree because we need them 4 emergancys

It may be true that cell phones disrupt school academics. However I don’t believe banning them is a proper response. It’s fine to make it so that if used in school you can confiscate them until the end of class, but in a place like NYC it’s not a good idea to have children walking the streets without a cell phone in case of anything. If something were to happen to them there will be more problems for the schools and the courts then they'll know what to do with, and if that ban went into effect it would be known to all kinds of murderers and rapists. Another reason why it’s not such a great idea...

I agree that the use of cell phones in the classroom can be a distraction; however, the total ban of the device is, in my opinion, an overzealous solution. Administrators need only to be vigilant and consistent with enforcing rules regarding cell phones.

I truly believe one of the main reasons many teachers do not want cell phones in the classroom is they are concerned that students will use the technology to video tape a teacher displaying his/her negative behavior and/or inefficient teaching skills for the world to see.

As a concerned parent, it is my hope that every classroom in every school in America (if possible, via the use of grant money, tax credit, M & O funds, etc.) will be required to include cameras. These cameras will allow administrators and parents alike to visit a classroom at any given time to view the goings-on. This gives the teacher and the student an incentive to behave properly and hopefully step up their academic game in the school setting.

Comments anyone?

i strongly believe that students should be allowed to bring their cell phones to school because it teaches the students to be responsible. Also cell phone would be a good use if they are in danger. A cell phone would also be good for the student to keep in contact with their parents at all times and thats a good enough reason for them to bring their cell phones to school. ask your self whats better looking at the time on your cell phone in class or being in danger without being able to contact anyone. why are you trying to treat the kids like slaves and telling them so many things they can't do with their own stuff. i thought people came to america because theis is the home of the free.

students should have cellphones becausein case of an emergecy to talk to their parents

i think its ok to use a phone on school grounds before and after school. but during, i think only at lunch.

Yeah I think it is funny. Students are always the bad ones right. Parents and teachers make off we all cheat because of a cell phone. Well I hate to say it but what gives the right for teachers to use cell phones. Everyday during school teachers will answer there phones and it is not just one. What is more important learning or talking. No one school have them in classrooms PERIOD!

No!because students also need their cell phone, because when the class hour ends and they are outside of their schools, their parents need to contact them and to ask where they are.

Cell Phones should be in schools, and with anyone and everyone 24/7 in case of emergences, because anything could happen at any time and place. You never know what'll happen next, the best thing to do, is to be prepared.

I think we should be able to have cellphones at school because we could have our own calculaters.

i think we should be able to have celphones at school because we could help each other with out talking...

give us are phones :)

i think it's better to bring cellular phones as long as it will not be used during school hours... because teenagers of today our different, it is needed so parents can call their children to remind them about their time...

cell phones should incase of a problem

i think cell phones should be becuase there was a stabbing at my highschool an the kids only called the police and parents...

The on going controversy over cellphones being allowed in the educational setting obviously has its pros and cons. As sited in many responses the the disciplinary action stated is to confiscate the phones when being used in class. I am asking for feedback from teachers, principals, and policy makers regarding the following situation. Sixteen year old student has cell phone taken up two times during first three 9 weeks once for use in class and once for use in courtyard. Student handbook states Zero Tolerance and phones will be kept for one calendar year from date of offense. The parents further disciplined him by not allowing him to get his drivers license until he reaches 17 and refused to buy him another phone. During 4th 9 weeks student takes mothers phone to school without permission one day. The teacher asked student to stay in classroom to catch up on notes he missed while home sick instead of going with rest of class to watch prom awareness film. student agrees to stay in class to get caught up. the students props foot up and phone falls out of pocket. Teacher takes phone and completes referrel. Mother meets with asst. principal day of the offense at which time she is advised child will be placed in alternative school for 45. The discipline history for this students is one referral to ISI for tardies and one for not having shirt tucked in. Child has never been discipline problem in this Mississippi school district from k-11th grade til now for cellphone. Is placement in alternate school for 45 days appropriate for this disciplinary infraction? you may respond to me directly [email protected] Thank youin advance for your feedback

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