Cellphones in Atlanta schools: Call me maybe. But only in emergencies.

I remain amazed how often I see groups of kids sitting around on their cellphones. Even when they have actual human beings sitting across from them at the Dairy Queen or the Starbucks, they are engrossed in their phones. And the worse offenders are the kids with iPhones, who apparently have no reason to ever look up from their screens.

So, I have mixed reactions to Atlanta’s decision to allow all students to bring cellphones to school.

There is nothing mixed about the position of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers, which issued this formal statement:

Whereas, we understand that the superintendent may be charged with constructing a regulation in regards to APS’ existing cell phone policy, the AFT is requesting that the Atlanta School Board disallow cell phones on school grounds and within school buildings by students.  (Change the existing policy.)

As we continue to hear from and interface with APS instructional staff, we have gained a greater comprehension and appreciation of their opinions and experiences as to the safety and instructional problems that students’ cell phone possession poses.

As per the “Use of Electronic Devices by Students” Descriptor Code: JCDAF-R (O), the problem with this policy is implementation and “enforcement.”  Our administrators and teachers are already overrun with consequential discipline paperwork and burdened with discipline problems each day.  This is not a reflection upon their abilities or inabilities to manage their work environments.  Contrary, it is indicative of the district’s neglected attention to mounting discipline problems.

We ask you to help unburden teachers and administrators so that they can carry out their prime directive… “Educate the Children.”  Therefore, it is reasonable to disallow cell phone possession on school grounds and within school buildings by all students.

What does data tell us about student possession of cell phones’ ability to deter an unsafe environment or secure a safe one?  And if safety and quality instruction are the goals, what does the data state about student cell phone possession to achieve each?

My twins don’t bring cellphones to their middle school unless they’re staying after and have to call me for a ride. (The school office is not open after 4:30 so there are no options if students have to call parents beyond that time.)  They tell me that kids occasionally text during class, although there are some classes where it occurs more often.

A private school teacher who tried incorporating cellphones into her middle school classes told me the project fell apart because of texting. She spent too much time policing the phones. She also said that she had problems with kids losing their phones or having them stolen. She said she cannot imagine the challenges of allowing even elementary school students to bring cellphones to class.

But that is what Atlanta will now permit under a policy shift announced today:

According to the AJC:

Deputy Superintendent Karen Waldon told principals that elementary and middle school students will be allowed to bring cellphones to school if they have written permission from their parents and keep them turned off during the school day, Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Stephen Alford said on Tuesday. High school students already have cellphone privileges.

Atlanta Board of Education members wanted to relax cellphone restrictions following last month’s shooting at Grady High School, when parents called their children to make sure they were unharmed. A 17-year-old girl shot herself in the leg Feb. 27, and no one else was injured.

Verdaillia Turner, president of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers, said adding more cellphones to schools creates another disciplinary burden on teachers. It’s a major distraction and it’s one more thing we’ll have to deal with as teachers that prevents us from doing our job of providing an education,” Turner said.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

64 comments Add your comment

Centrist

March 12th, 2013
7:17 pm

There is a simple solution to this – there are cell phone blocking transmitters that some offices, hospitals, and other buildings use. They can be limited in range so that there are areas where it does not work – and can turned off say during lockdowns, before and after school.

rural juror

March 12th, 2013
7:23 pm

Teens are addicted to their phones. They can’t go without looking at the screen for long periods of time. I fear testing breaches in the class room where the student can photograph an exam then text it to his/her friend for their next class with the same teacher.

Calka

March 12th, 2013
7:26 pm

I teach in one of these BYOT counties that are being showcased for their innovative use of technology in the classroom. For the most part – it doesn’t work and is just a way for admin to cut down on discipline referrals. If teachers cannot take up cell phones and parents don’t have to come to school and pick them up then admin can claim an enormous decrease of discipline referrals! Yeah – our schools are improving – NOT! Is this in the best interest of the children? I do not think so. They are texting ALL the time now. They use BYOT to cheat on assignments and tests. They are being kids and we give them permission to cheat and be distracted in class. If I want to use BYOT either the internet is not working or not everyone has an i-phone etc. The effective use is minimal the abuse is overwhelming. But why would anyone ask teachers? They are just not used to incorporating new technologies! I’d be happy to take my kids to the computer lab once a semester – if it is available and all 25 computers are working for my 35 kids in class…

Yet another decision...

March 12th, 2013
7:27 pm

This is one more decision that the Atlanta BOE has made in poor judgment. I offer the experts (many have never spent more than a few hours in a classroom) the opportunity to come in and “police” Biff and Bobby all day and attempt to tell them that they cannot use their phones. Many schools currently have situations where students are using the school phones and calling unauthorized numbers (e.g. 911). What do the Wiz Kids from Trinity Avenue propose when these kids use their cells to engage in that behavior? Now personnel will have to “answer to” parents when their kids aren’t allowed to use their phones. While the belief of some people will be that the kids should be allowed to have them. There is more to worry about (security, bullying, overpaid CLL staff, out of district students) than whether an elementary school student has the use of a cell phone. Wake up, Erroll and crew.

rural juror

March 12th, 2013
7:30 pm

centrist, I think adult school staff/faculty should be able to use their cells during business hours (for business reasons, parent calls, ordering supplies, calling main office, etc..). maybe a 4 digit dial out code for adult use. I don’t the fix but I know that some children are not ready for a cell phone.

Exhausted

March 12th, 2013
7:49 pm

I’m exhausted from telling my high school students to turn off phones and put them away. Yes, they text in class (same answer – It’s my mom) and walk the halls listening to tunes, not teachers. Cheating is out of control from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or just looking up websites with info. Tears from lost or stolen phones, parents giving us grief-I’m done with it. Once you open that door, you cannot close it.

Centrist

March 12th, 2013
7:50 pm

@ rural juror – I think you missed the part where I posted “They can be limited in range so that there are areas where it (blocker) does not work.”

Not PC and a HS teacher

March 12th, 2013
7:50 pm

In my high school, students are allowed to carry their phones but not use them during the school day. Teachers take up several each day, usually for secretive texting during class. Cheating using camera features is almost certainly going on but I think is not that frequent.

During state-mandated testing, students are required to turn in their cell phones to the testing room examiner/proctor. Should a phone go off during a test event, our county policy is that a testing security violation is reported, which could result in the invalidation of all test results in that room.

Blocking devices are expressly prohibited by the FCC. I would not have one in my class for fear of becoming the example who gets prosecuted for FCC violation.

Cell phones are not going away and it is not going to be easy to develop effective policies to address the problems created by students with cell phones.

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
7:52 pm

Translation: Kids bring smart phones and then video in the classroom and post it to YouTube or their favored social networking site. There are significant privacy issues for other students being videoed and of course, for teachers. Agitated kid from agitated family can / will / have video teacher in class and then go home and play it for their parent and get them worked up (and there are some psycho parents who want this) and say, “See! I told you! Teacher did this! did that!” (could be the simplest thing. -teacher tied their shoes. teacher wrote a lesson on the board.) Then the psycho parent goes to the school demanding an explanation that “teacher tied their shoe!!!” “teacher wrote a lesson on the board!!!”

Point is, and you can imagine it from there, there are some kids who set up scenarios and troll adults to get a reaction and video it and such. Sounds untoward, but these exploits occur. Just like when one delinquent distracts teacher or asks a question, or says “Can you look at my work and check this?” while their friend steals something from the teacher’s desk. Point is, these things happen, and especially with the amount of non-trust from administrators today (doing what they are told to do) some classrooms are not exactly organic environments. And then, there is always the “play tricks on the sub teacher” kids. Point is, when you video it and put it online, it is difficult to retract.

Therefore, in public schools where there is no vetting of students, I firmly support Verdaillia Turner and submit that she has made the correct recommendation.

The best method I have utilised for dealing with students’ phones is to have a plastic tub and the student phones are collected at the start of the day, locked up and secured, and returned at or before dismal.

APS Parent

March 12th, 2013
7:52 pm

It is about time APS changed their policy on cell phones. At the end of the school day when my children leave the building – I want them to have the ability to communicate with me. What if I am running late due to an accident or flat tire, what if they have to stay late for afterschool activities they forgot to tell me – if they can’t take their phone to school then how are they going to have access to it when they leave school. The policy requires every child to leave their phone in their locker or backpack. Are you telling me teachers don’t have the ability to enforce that or take a phone away? I am stunned that our world operates on handheld technology and APS is finally comingt out of the 20th century. Wake up folks – we need to embrace new technologis and use them to make our children competitive – the rest of the world is leaving us behind.

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
7:56 pm

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
8:00 pm

I am not sure how this plays out with using tablet computers in place of textbooks. Print textbooks and print books in general are obsolete, it’s a fact. I was reminded of this when I recently bought three books on line, each arriving in varying condition. It was plain to see “Woundn’t this process be much easier with a tablet computer or e-reader (on-off pixel b&w tablet)?”

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
8:03 pm

ha. Should say “dismissal” not “dismal!”

Georgia Teacher

March 12th, 2013
8:04 pm

As a high school teacher, I just don’t see the big deal about cellphones in school. It’s no different than passing notes when I was in school. Teachers take them up and kids learn a lesson, or teachers choose to ignore them and get frustrated. I think it’s a classroom management issue. I don’t like that kids are so attached to them–especially for playing games–but it’s a huge part of their lives now. If we want to reach students, we can’t ignore what is their reality.

Michelle-Middle School

March 12th, 2013
8:25 pm

No wonder Atlanta City Schools is so screwed up. Just wait till the first graders start sharing jokes about the teachers in class, cyber-bullying right in the classroom, invasion of privacy on a regular basis. teachers WILL NEVER be able to control the use of the cell phones. What a joke. Just a knee jerk reaction like all school districts in Atlanta so often use. Good bye education.

Georgia

March 12th, 2013
8:27 pm

Cellphones are required tools for learning as much as text books are. Embrace cellphones for all students, and laptops, and Ipads and Iphones and Ipods and I-everything, for gods sake what’s wrong with you people? This is a new era. Join us. You can’t educate a child without a smart phone anymore. In fact, you can educate a child with a smart phone far, far more effectively than at any other time and with any other teaching method in history. The slide rule worked for Cro-Magnon man, okay? The pet rock worked for the stoner baby boomers, okay? We’ve moved on. Gads.

It’s a fact. Embrace technology. teach kids how to use the Iphone. they will learn anything on that phone. They will amaze you with their ability to learn on that phone. Quit fighting life, people. Just stop. Join the human f’ing race and quit being the neanderthal-polluted DNA/RNA monkey reactionaries that you truly are!!!!

Gadzooks. So sick of it. I’m so sick of everyone holding on to the comfort of ignorance. How is being a total p-hole working for you parents and teachers, anyway?

Old Physics Teacher

March 12th, 2013
8:29 pm

Oh, please! You can bring the phone to school, but keep it turned off, really? OK, how about this; Wife: “Sure, husband, you can go to Vegas for the weekend! Sure, you can carry $50,000 with you; you just can’t gamble with it.” Or Mother: Sure, daughter, you can carry a condom with you, but you can’t use it for having sex. You must just keep it in your purse.” Keep it turned off, really? Then why bring it to school in the first place? What a crock!

What bunch of ID ten T’s. Sigh, at one time, it was illegal to have a rear view mirror on your car. The reasoning was: If you had one, you’d use it to see if there was a policeman behind you driving at the same speed to see if you were driving faster than the speed limit. You could then use it to avoid getting a speeding ticket.

All this “phone business” means we as educators must now start using technology to create individual tests for each student so that cheating from communicating with another student is worthless. The UGA Chemistry department does it right now with on-line testing with different values for each question on every test, and every set of questions being re-numbered for every test. They’ve been doing it for over 10 years. The school systems need to stop spending valuable resources (money) on administrative staff (asst principals) and use that money for these software programs. You know, “where the rubber meets the road?” (snicker, snicker) Yeah right, like that’s going to happen.

I feel for you first through 15th year teachers. I’ve raised a large family, and thank God, none of them are in education. As a teacher I’ve raised 2 sets of families in the one percent and all of them are in the upper 5%. I’ve just got to survive for a year and a fraction and I’m out of this disaster the politicians and “experts” have created of education. When I started 20 years ago after a successful career in business, I believed that I could make a difference in my community. I knew this wasn’t a 40 hour a week job. Heck, I knew it wasn’t a 60 hour a week job, but my students went out and did great things. Now, with the ID ten T’s in charge many of my just GRADUATED “A” students can’t hold a reasoned position. Many of them believe they KNOW facts when all they have are opinions backed by listening to talk radio (both sides!) and charlatans who want their money, their votes, or power over them. They can’t even be bothered to do a Google search to fact check an email.

All that it would take to fix this mess would be for the politicians to say, “I’m sorry. I’ve screwed this up. I meant well, but everything I’ve done is make this problem worse. How about we take education back from business men/women and professional educators and turn the problems over to the classroom teachers who actually are where the rubber meets the road?”

Like I said, yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen.

Pride and Joy

March 12th, 2013
8:31 pm

This cell phone policy makes sense. You can have one but you are not allowed to use it during class.
Policing the matter is easy. Check the cell phones at the door before you sit down or if you use it when you shouldn’t, it gets taken away until school is out.
Anything can be a distraction at school, including Pokemon cards.
I absolutley will want to give my child a cell phone, an iphone to take to school and i will instruct them how to use it. I will tell them and show them how to use it clandestinely to record video and audio of crimes being committed during the school day by kids and by teachers and administration.
When my child takes the next CRCT test, I’ll show them how to turn it on and record everything the teacher does and says so that when she is cheating, I’ll have proof to take to court and to the media.
Cell phones, especially iphones, have recorded countless crimes by adults in schools. Remember the time a slender boy was being beaten up by a huge bully and the huuuuuugggge teacher just ignored it? He only intervened to try to take away the cell phone and the student got it all on video.
I wished all classrooms, hallways and all teachers and students were recorded 24/7 — and an online link provided to parents so they could observe the childrenr minute. I am certain it would make it very easy for law enforcement to do their job and it would deter some crimes by kids and adults as well.
What would have happened if we had had cameras on all areas surrounding Grady High School? We could have “gone to tape” and seen exactly how Tuft got her pink pistol on school grounds and the circumstances surrounding her shooting. There would be no room for lies. Video doesn’t lie.
We are already recorded at convenience stores, retails stores, at stop lights and so on. I welcome it. On the few occassions I use Marta I always look for the video camera and stand under it to deter thugs.
When I see a thug beating up on his girlfriend, I whip out my iphone and go to video. ALWAYS the perp stops the beating. Just knowing I am recording it changes the thug’s behavior.
The people who are law-abiding and the kids who are well-behaved welcome cameras. It;s only the criminals and their parents or the teachers who are criminals who don’t want the cameras. They know they will get caught.
Just imagine if every kid in APS had a recording device under their collar while taking the CRCT — we would have caught all the liars and thieves who were visually prompting answers or using voice inflexion to cheat.
Go ahead — point your camera at me and my children. I welcome it. It’s proof my family is doing the right thing. Only criminals object.

Megan

March 12th, 2013
8:45 pm

bad idea. Many negatives and a very short list of positives.

Sk8ing Momma

March 12th, 2013
8:48 pm

Really?! The inmates are running the asylum. SMH! What have we come to as a society when we believe that children “need” access to personal phone lines while at school? It’s a sad day.

living in an outdated ed system

March 12th, 2013
8:54 pm

The Atlanta Federation of Teachers is woefully out of touch with the 21st century and their rationale is more complaining and whining as opposed to having a truly legitimate concern. Had to be blunt here because their response was quite appalling. The policy outlined by Karen Waldon is substantially similar to what the independent schools in Atlanta offer, except you don’t need written permission. The phone must be turned off during the school day. What’s the problem with that?

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 12th, 2013
9:05 pm

As any teacher will tell you—kids are amazingly adept at concealing cell phones in their lap area, and texting their way through entire class periods.

LJHays

March 12th, 2013
9:05 pm

“You can’t educate a child without a smart phone anymore.” Then our education problems are bigger than first thought.

We got by...

March 12th, 2013
9:07 pm

What percentage has phones? What percentage is on subsidized lunch? What percentage of kids on subsidized lunch have phones? When did a phone become a human right?

Sam

March 12th, 2013
9:07 pm

Every time a kid breaks dress code or cell phone policy, you have to wonder, “who bought that mini skirt or $600 phone?” Hint: mom and dad did! They totally approve of the kid using the device, because they are the ones calling and texting their kids at school!

Bernie

March 12th, 2013
9:32 pm

Hello Mom, I just heard ,what I think were GUN SHOTS and everybody around me is Running away?

Where are YOU Baby? At school…on my way to Class.

Are there Bodies in the hallway bleeding? No…All I see are those Cameras Mayor Reed promised US.

Hold on, I think it just too my photo!

Not to worry Honey, there are 100’s of ATLANTA’s finest who have their eyeballs on you!

Is That ALL?

Click!

MS Man

March 12th, 2013
9:33 pm

I am amazed. I am amazed that it makes more sense to people on this blog to have kids unplug when they come to school and read outdated text books, use chalkboards, and learn good cursive handwriting. None of those skills prepare kids for the job that are going to be there when they graduate. Isn’t that our more or less stated purpose as schools- to prepare kids to be productive employed citizens? Schools have to change the way they do the work of educating. What worked for you 15, 20, 30, 40 years ago doesn’t cut it anymore. Atlanta’s policy is a baby step towards getting schools to reflect the world we all live in and the world that the students will have to work in when they leave. I bank on an app on my phone, I use my phone to communicate with email and text, I keep connected to work with my phone, and am able to find any information I need through my smart phone. Most of you live in this world as well. What sense does it make to take those tools away from students? I would also argue that if its easy for kids to cheat or be unengaged in class, then the work teachers are asking of the students is probably not worthwhile and meaningful work. Whether we want to accept it or not, kids are pretty darn savvy.

School should not resemble jail, it should resemble the way we all naturally learn. As an adult when you want to learn something or find something out, what do you do? You probably go to Google and start there. Why shouldn’t students?

Cell phones dont = paying attention

March 12th, 2013
9:57 pm

Another example of the inmates running the asylum. Kids can learn to use technology on their own time. Ive seen them do it. It would be too easy to cheat and too easy to communicate bad intentions. Once upon a time, people followed the rules and there were a lot less problems. Kids need to stay focused on the teacher. I can only imagine a kid unprepared for a test sits there on their cell phone and gives no effort on a test at all. Great way to use technology in the class. BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD Idea

Bernie

March 12th, 2013
10:10 pm

MS Man@ -9:33: You are even more scarier than those who advocate this insane School Choice Crap! Are you CRAZY? what you are advocating should only be a very small part of their education. Do you think the Kids in Japan,China France,Netherlands,Germany,Russia are following such a plan. I will answer for you, NO!

what they Need is MORE MATHEMATICS,SCIENCE,ENGINEERING,PHYSICS,COMPUTER SCIENCES all of the STUFF you never mentioned!

However well intended your comment is, the advice is wrong and misguided!

The expertise of the subjects mentioned in my comment are the Subjects that will RULE THE WORLD! Period!

If you do not think so, Next time when you look at GooGLE on your CELL PHONE with the wide-eyed expression of How Did They Do that?

You will think of ME!

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
10:11 pm

Georgia
The pet rock worked for the stoner baby boomers, okay?

I was reading literature, doing sequential structured vocabulary study, and doing trigonometry, thank you. And then we built the first computer in the school.

We’ve moved on.

Yes, that’s what I’m worried about. “Georgia” (a profound generalisation for a weblog name), there is ample scholarship from Britain stating that computer-saturated schooling does not yield a better result for learning from the old way from teachers who know what they are doing. And Britain has many many excellent polytechniques and universities there. You really frighten me, Georgia, in that you appear real toxic to teachers who do it the old way and get real results, and you have completely bought into the “gizmo = production” ideal. Now, if you had coordinated approach with a bunch of Apple products and purchased software for each student (the way the expensive private school does it) I might take note, but you provide no specifics, none, and seem to represent a basket of uncoordinated Android phones suddenly equals, “Superb Learning Environment!!! All Else- Bad!” and then thing is, you’re the boss over teachers. God help someone who actually knows aspects of Shakespeare who goes to work under you.

You are generalising like a madman, whether you know it or not. Here is a reasonable and appropriate challenge for you: Please inform me (and the readership) of specific learning activities using these pocket devices. Please inform us how this works. Otherwise, I conclude you bought the marketing, but do not know your profession. Now, for fair play, I require to provide scholarship stating that “computers in schools does not make for better learning.”

Georgia, In this article and comments, there’s 20 people agreeing with you and I person who says what I am saying: http://nyteachers.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/does-the-use-of-technology-improve-a-childs-learning-experience-in-the-classroom-by-tara-agnesini-celena-ragkaswar-and-jamie-bunsis/

The real question is, If you are going to say Android phones and such = “technology in the classroom,” that’s a high level or disorganisation and a low level of coordination. It sure is not the same thing as laptops or tablet computers for each student. I think you’re blowing smoke and making hype. The other thing, isn’t there anyone there with real “curriculum authority” because you see real free to get on board and hype the gadgets, -but be honest now – applied curriculum is not your speciality, is it?

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
10:16 pm

The phone must be turned off during the school day. What’s the problem with that?

I’ll put you on YouTube and then you can tell me.

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
10:22 pm

A subtext here is that there are basically different levels of civilization in different schools and demographic groups. The “I see no problem” crowd probably do not work with a portion of disturbed attention-seeking unruly kids in school environment where the kids rule, the teachers are talked to rough, and often the administration (and even the state!) subverts the authority of the teacher. I’m not talking “authority freak” teachers, I’m talking basic stuff where either the teacher is treated with respect or the teacher is treated like dirt, like a joke, like “you can’t do anything to me” and they’re right. Point is there are very different environments in difference classrooms. Certainly the “prep” environments are not going to throw each other on the ground with wrestling moves, film it, know over desks, and post it online “Look at Our School! Look! Look!” And this is the reality that the Atlanta Federation of Teachers lady must be thinking of. And before you think otherwise, you ought to work where kids pull each other’s hair out and finish the fight at night under a street light with 4 kids and a razor blade attacking the other kid. This is routine stuff at the school with the (unreported) rape in the stairwell. Sorry for the bucket of cold water. Maybe different schools need different policies.

William Casey

March 12th, 2013
10:31 pm

It’s not just kids. Look around at all the “cell phone zombie” adults.

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
10:36 pm

Looks like the Brits have spent about $12 million looking at this question, and unlike Arne Duncan and the US DOE, the Brits (like much of europe) actually provide some tools for their teachers. Here is an overview from the UK http://www.tlrp.org/docs/enhance.pdf

Anyone who mentions Glasgow is okay by me. They’ve got good curry there.

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
10:41 pm

International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning
sample issue: http://www.inderscience.com/info/ingeneral/sample.php?jcode=ijtel

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
10:51 pm

“Research on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for digital culture explores the use of leading edge technologies (e.g. knowledge management systems, semantic tools, graphics, interfaces) to empower applications that improve the meaningful use and experiences users get from cultural resources.” http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ict/telearn-digicult/digicult-culture_en.html

TrySafetyFirst

March 12th, 2013
10:57 pm

Centrist, you are right in your comment “there are cell phone blocking transmitters”. However, they are illegal. They are called jammers. Under no circumstance will the FCC grant an exception to the law. My engineers developed one a few years back in an attempt to combat texting behind the wheel. We had to go back to the drawing board and build a better mousetrap. We have developed a solution that will work, but it will take an act of Congress to see it thru. In fact, it will permit a teacher to use the phone as a teaching tool for part of the class (if desired) and then flip a switch when giving an exam or other instruction. It gives parents, teachers, and kids the best of both worlds. Hence, to anyone reading this – Call Senator Isakson’s office and request he champion a bill called The Protocol Solution. You can learn more about the technology at http://trysafetyfirst.com.

Private Citizen

March 12th, 2013
11:13 pm

TrySafetyFirst, You’ve made quite an effort there, truly incredible. The thing is “all phones?” What are you talking about? You can not “shut down” or “brick” my phone. I had it sent to me directly from Shenzhen, China, where the phones are made. My software build is secure and you can not “hack (turn into a non functioning brick?) my phone” even if Johnny Isaakson gave the law and the go-ahead, unless you want to fire up a tuned Tesla coil and melt the circuit board (and everything else around it). You seem to be under the assumption that you can control the market and source of electronics (phones). If you shut down free-trade and make the state like North Korea, you might could do it. Do you have a “counsel of advisors” on this effort of yours?

PS If you want to shut down cell phones in prisons and such, just jam (create electronic noise) the carrier frequency groups. The FCC problem is that you may not be able to control the range of your exploit. Georgia does not even have a “no talking on cell phone will driving” law. I’d sure be glad if they did, and I agree with you it is a problem that needs to be remedied.

BehindEnemyLines

March 12th, 2013
11:14 pm

Anybody who thinks this is going to actually work out well in the APS … well, it doesn’t happen often but I’m pretty much speechless. I really can’t think of any cute comparison or witty one-liner to describe that degree of insanity.

Bernie

March 13th, 2013
3:05 am

I am convinced that the Adminstrators of APS are not sharpest knives in the tool shed. This is NOT the first time we have seen knee jerk decisions coming this office. The most ridiculous and memorable for me was the announcement a week before the start of the school year that APS students that live within a mile of the school, will no longer have school bus service available for grades K-12. without any prior notice or discussion with anyone. A complete disaster! that had to be reversed the following week.

Now, this one will go over like a lead Balloon with the Teachers. For they will
ultimately, be the front line enforcers of this policy change. As if, they do not already have enough on their hands with disipline issues. Just another Thoughtless addition, of another disruptive repsonsibility placed right in their Laps without their input or consent.

One must wonder who is Hiring these people or where are they finding them? We know at least the Governor recommended the SUPER. If this is any kind of sign of lack of judgement look out Dekalb County School Board. The Bridge is OUT ahead and you do not even know it and its raining cats and dogs literally. :)

drew (former teacher)

March 13th, 2013
6:26 am

“Policing the matter is easy. Check the cell phones at the door before you sit down or if you use it when you shouldn’t, it gets taken away until school is out.”

Yeah…it’s so easy! Just collect 25-35 cell phones every class period (at least from those who are are honest enough to admit they have a phone). And then the teacher, who is now responsible for these phones, has to personally return each phone to the correct owner to each student (you can’t just set a tub of phones out there for grabs on the honor system). And inevitably, when phones end up lost or damaged, you have irate kids and parents on your back.

Yeah…it’s easy.

Another example of schools dropping a rule because it’s easier than enforcing it. Anyone supporting this idea has no idea what goes on in a classroom. But hey, I guess in this brave new world a person’s “right” to a cell phone trumps others right to an education.

MS Man

March 13th, 2013
6:44 am

@Bernie How do you suggest schools teach “what they Need is MORE MATHEMATICS,SCIENCE,ENGINEERING,PHYSICS,COMPUTER SCIENCES all of the STUFF you never mentioned! ”

It would seem to me that a great way (insert sarcasm) to teach engineering, physics, computer science would be to do it with outdated texts and no access to technology. That would really do the trick. A smartphone is a pocket computer. It required someone to build it who had skills and motivation that matched the STEM areas you suggested. Scientists working in companies and research labs use technology, mathematicians use technology to build mathematical models. All of those things are driven today by technology.

My point, which you clearly missed, is that smart phones are a way to give students access to the world that they must be ready for and able to work. The functionalities of a smart phone (which is what kids are carrying around) are so much more than texting and calling. They a powerful tool that kids should be taught to use the right ways and at the right times.

It appears the knee jerk reaction isn’t from APS in this case, but rather from a small group of backwards thinking commenters who want school to be nothing but kids sitting in silent rows, only speaking when spoken too, taking multiplication timed tests, reciting great speeches of history from memory at their desk side, and getting the paddle if they should have an original thought.

That hasn’t worked for America for 30 years.

Mountain Man

March 13th, 2013
7:37 am

“It would seem to me that a great way (insert sarcasm) to teach engineering, physics, computer science would be to do it with outdated texts and no access to technology.”

And call someone on the warehouse floor while you have a customer on the phone and ask them how many pallets of product they have (rows x layers x pallets/row) and when they can ship out 10 loads if they are currently producing and they hesitate and say ” can I call you back when I get to my office and my computer?”

The BASICS are important; get them down before you move onto how to operate the latest and greatest calculator. Yes, you should use technology, but not use smart phones to get around learning your multiplication tables. If I ever see a check-out girl pull out her smart phone to count back my change, I will walk out of that store and call the corporate headquarters – and hopefully she will be fired that day.

Mountain Man

March 13th, 2013
7:39 am

What they need is a cell phone DETECTOR, not a blocker – then it would go off if a cell phone was active in the classroom.

Funny

March 13th, 2013
7:47 am

Teachers in Clayton County have been told they cannot use cell phones during an emergancy lock down. If the professionals cannot use phones why should students have phones??

Richard Hargrove

March 13th, 2013
7:59 am

Maureen, Mixed Reaction?? No cell phone allowed at school, but you quote ” My Twins don’t bring cellphones to their middle school unless they’re staying after and have to call me for a ride ” You Just broke the rule!!

concernced

March 13th, 2013
8:01 am

Yes, technology is great. Yes, educators should embrace technology. No, cell phones should not be allowed in the classroom or used during school hours. At my school students cheat, take inappropriate pictures in the bathroom and send them to others, take pictures of other students (without permission) to post on social networking sites to make fun of them, record teachers (without permission), students have their phones stolen or broken, and the list goes on. Guess who gets in trouble for all of this – educators. How is it my responsibility to police cell phone use? I thought my job was to educate students. During class one day a cell phone rang and the student answered it. I walked over to the student and asked them to hand me their phone. They continued talking on the phone. I asked again and the student curtly responded that is was her mother. I asked for the phone a third time. She finally handed it to me so the mother could scream at me for taking up her child’s phone. The school has phones for students to use in the office and in the student services office. When I was growing up we did not have cell phones. We made arrangements before we left for school about getting a ride home. If there was an emergency the parent called the school office and a message was given to the child. If the child had an emergency they used the office phone. Simple responsibility.

Students have not been taught by their parents how to be responsible for cell phones and until they do I don’t think there is a place for them in the classroom. Most schools have computers students use for assignments. I love technology and embrace it well. But I think we need to be realistic in education about how we use technology. Students just think they are toys and until that changes I’ll stick with what works.

Maureen Downey

March 13th, 2013
8:17 am

@Richard, The school allows kids to bring their phones.
Maureen

Richard Hargrove

March 13th, 2013
9:00 am

I’m just making the point that, the students at APS, have the same situation as your twins. The policy they are trying to put in place, clarifies the problem. “In use”

Maureen Downey

March 13th, 2013
9:16 am

@Richard, But the APS policy also applies to k-5.
Maureen