Change new cellphone policy at George Washington Middle School

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George Washington Middle School students need to be able to keep their phones, on silent, on them, as a safety concern. The digital age calls for another approach to regulating the relationship between phones and learning. We are asking for current and past GWMS students, as well as current GWMS parents to sign this petition to show their support of advocating for changing cellphone policy.

"George Washington Middle School believes that a cellphone on a desk, in a pocket, or in a backpack provides too tempting a distraction for our students."

- GWMS Cellphone Policy

 

By signing the petition, you support the right of students to be able to carry their phones concealed in their backpacks with appropriate usage, provided permission from teachers/administrators is given. For more information, please read the proposed letter.

Students must use their phones appropriately, but banning them altogether is unrealistic and presents a variety of problems. Please use your real name when signing and real email address- fraudulent signatures hurt the cause.

Current and past GWMS students and parents are encouraged to sign.

Thank you!

 

Petition letter:

Dear Mr. Mazur,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We are grateful for your commitment to helping students of George Washington Middle School succeed in their educational careers, both in middle school and in preparation for the future. Today we aim to reach an agreement or at least spark a more involved version of the conversation currently being had about cellphone use in school, and more specifically, in our middle school.

Upon reading the new cell phone policy, many of us students were concerned about the implications and technicalities of some of the restrictions against cell phone use during school hours. We understand and agree that phones can be a distraction in school. We also understand that previous incidents have implied that stricter guidelines regarding phone use are necessary for our school to maintain a positive reputation as well as to protect the privacy of students. However, we feel as if the polarity in this situation- from going from one extreme to another- is inappropriate and can have more negative effects than positive.

We agree, as mentioned, that cellphones can be distracting when used improperly. When phones are used in inappropriate ways that do not benefit learning, or used in recreation outside of permitted time (ex. digital lunch), they can impact education on a personal and sometimes class-level. We also acknowledge that in the past inappropriate behavior has led to where the policy stands today- some students have been using their phone during educational time without permission. We feel as if this new policy, however, does not acknowledge the positive impact that cell phones can have- some of which Chromebooks cannot support.

Cellphones can perform tasks that are unavailable with current supplied Chromebook technology. This includes taking photos and videos, especially that of higher camera quality. Photography can be beneficial in multiple settings- such as in a science classroom when examining cells or in an art class to memorialize the works that students create. Students may take photos of the board, or share photos of notes that another student may have been absent for. Videography can document the learning process, a play, a presentation, an experiment, and other things which students can study outside of school hours or reflect on. By banning students from having their phones on them, it prevents them from having more advanced technology at hand- especially considering new scheduling makes lockers harder to access.

Outside of photography, music is a controversial example that can help students. Research has shown certain types of music can help improve the productivity of studying, but outside of that music can be a great stress reliever to students during permitted time. During lunch, students may want to calm down by listening to their favorite tracks on their headphones, some of which may not be available on the Chromebook. Privately listening to music during break time can de-stress students, preparing them to resume their work with a more positive attitude.

Not being available to have phones is also a safety concern. In emergencies, phones are a quick way to reach parental guardians, and when parents want to contact their children, realistically, they would do so on their devices. A lot of parents purchased phones for their child so they can contact them easily- and vice versa. Sometimes personal matters are best settled outside of school phones, and a text during lunchtime is usually the method of communication. Not being able to access your phone can be dangerous and makes many parents feel uncomfortable and unconnected while their child is at school.

Coordinating plans after school is also something that parents find important to be able to do with their kids. Oftentimes, parents may need to alert children of changes in schedules, and sometimes calling the school can prove ineffective or it is a personal matter that parents want to talk about individually with their children. Forcing the child to use public school phones in personal matters in unfair and inappropriate. Last-minute changes sometimes may want to be communicated before they are to do said changes and the school is not always responsive. Texting students about these situations during lunchtime is private, beneficial, and helpful.

Many students also want to do their work during lunch or work on something online. As Chromebooks are not allowed in the cafeteria, many students must use their phones to complete their digital work. As exposing Chromebooks to the cafeteria can be dangerous and possibly result in the damage of school property, phones are an easy personal alternative.

There is also room to understand how digital lunch and subsequent rewards are handled. Accessing social media is a personal decision between kids and their family, and it is their guardian’s responsibility to understand the implications of allowing their child to participate in social media. The conversation surrounding social media is much bigger than accessing it during school hours.

Proposed changes to the policy include being able to carry a phone concealed and on silent, rather than being shut down, in a student’s backpack or bag. This would mean that students could quickly and easily contact their parents in an emergency, as well as allows them to use their phones appropriately with permission from their teachers. Digital lunch could be an earned reward after the exhibition of positive behavior and can be treated similarly to other privileges. However, not being able to have phones on us can be unsafe at worst and inconvenient for both parents and children at best.

Considering the benefits and disadvantages of phones, this is only one section of a much larger global-wide debate about the digital age and how it impacts learning, and us as children in general. Some aspects must be regulated and certain privileges must be reevaluated and earned, but banning phones entirely in this way is counterproductive in helping students succeed. We are living in a society where having a phone is almost mandatory. In office environments and adult life, technology is an unavoidable and crucial aspect of succeeding in this new era. Introducing appropriate phone usage now and teaching us about it without complete bans is the best way to prepare us for the reality of how technology is handled in America. Punishing an entire group of students for isolated individual incidents is unfair and unrealistic.

Thank you for considering and taking the time to read this letter.

Sincerely,
George Washington Middle School Students
Yahney-Marie Sangaré