Rescinding Elk Rapids High Schools Student Cell Phone Policy

Rescinding Elk Rapids High Schools Student Cell Phone Policy

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Matthew Ducharme, and Terran Peterson started this petition to Mike Travis and

Petition To Rescind the 2018-19 Cell Phone Policy

Elk Rapids High School (ERHS) changed its cell phone policy this year, banning use of cell phones in the classroom. According to the ERHS Student Handbook, the policy was changed because, “After a lengthy review by staff of a growing body of research regarding the negative impacts of cell phones on student attention and learning. It has been determined that some additional restrictions need to be implemented to safeguard the learning environment.”

Research is not clear whether cell phone usage is helpful or not in the classroom. Studies can prove both sides which is why educators have mixed opinions on whether students can use phones in school. Studies do prove that music is helpful with learning. Lehmann and Seufert from Frontiers In Psychology stated, “Music has a positive impact, especially on students with learning disabilities or poor spelling skills.” According to Computer Systems Institute, “Studies have indicated that music can improve mental performance by “activating” the brain and promoting a more creative mental environment.” Also stated, “Finding the right music that inspires you without distracting you from your studies can be extremely beneficial, especially if you are struggling to find the time or the motivation to hit the books.” People listen to all different styles of music, it affects students in their own way. Studies clearly show it's what students choose to listen to that helps them. Before ERHS implemented its policy, students often used cell phones to listen to music. This cell phone usage helped students to focus and be more productive while blocking out classroom noise.

It could be argued that students can access everything they need through the school-issued Chromebook. However, most music applications have been blocked through the school’s router. Cell phones are the only way students can access music.

Experts say banning cell phones in the class room creates problems for teachers. Anita Charles, a researcher in literacy, says “I found that when schools attempted a blanket policy, invariable, it was unenforceable. Teachers and students developed workarounds.” The cell phone policy has divided teachers and students. Also, some teachers are very strict about the policy. Other teachers are not concerned about students having cell phones in the classroom at all. This is not an uncommon occasion for policy to be arbitrarily enforced.

Recently, a student was caught checking his grades on his phone. The student was punished even though he was using his phone for a school-related purpose. A short time later, a group of upperclassmen were caught on their phones texting and using social media. These students were not punished.

Enforcement of the cell phone policy has disrupted the classroom. Teachers often mistake other devices as cell phones. For example, students in math classes accused of using cell phone but when confronted when using calculators.

As students, we watch teachers stand in front of their classrooms and use their cell phones for personal reasons. The double standard that currently exists is unfair.

The return of allowing cell phones in the classroom could help promote student-teacher trust. The goal should be focusing on student self-regulation of cell phone use as opposed to full out prohibition. Students should be allowed to choose if and when to use their phones. This teaches responsibility. People carry cell phones everywhere. Students need to learn where and when the phones are appropriate to use.

This newly formed policy has made students feel like criminals while at school. School should be a friendly learning environment, not a place where students fear getting punished for checking their grades. Rather than allow our cellphones to drive a wedge between students and teachers, we should embrace them and search for effective ways to maximize the potential these tools offer.

Interestingly, the Student Handbook states “It is expected that phones are [to be] locked in lockers and are not brought to the classroom.” The Student Handbook also states “Students are advised not to leave valuables in their locker.” With most phones today regularly costing upwards of $1000, these two policies are in direct conflict with each other.

One of the goals of high school is to prepare students for the future. It's no secret that technology is growing exponentially. We have access to immense information at our fingertips, but we rely on it, and we will continue to rely on it. We do not know life without having immediate access to technology through our phone. Technology will only continue to develop and become more prevalent in our lives, leaving Elk Rapids students at a disadvantage to their peers.

Lisa Highfill, an instructional technology coach for a school district in Pleasanton, California, believes students should be allowed to use cell phones in classroom. She agrees that having phones helps students get ready for college and then, the workplace. Ms. Highfill says, “How many people go to work each day and turn their phone in?” she asks. “To me, getting ready for career and college is learning how to avoid the distraction of your phone.”

In the workplace, cell phones are used constantly, whether it is communicating with superiors, employees, business associates, or with clients. Business has evolved to being done on a cell phone, not a computer. As an example, anchors and commentators on cable news are frequently seen using their phones. The phone is a tool for them to report up to the minute information.

Students need to communicate with parents about many things like transportation after school, extracurricular activities such as sports or homework lab. Students owning personal computers can communicate anytime with others via text. Those limited to school issued Chromebooks are at a disadvantage.

Most importantly, cell phone use has been critical to help students during times of school-wide crisis. During the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, students used phones through calls, texts and social media to contact parents and friends. Cell phones provided immediate two-way communication. Students were able to tell others that they were safe. Parents were able to help their children through this traumatic event. Ken Trump, a school security consultant of 30 years and a father said, “Without a doubt, the cellphones provide an emotional security blanket for parents and kids.” Later, many of social media videos made by student cell phones were used as evidence to help the prosecution of Nicholas Cruz. Imagine, a parent just learning of a school shooting and having to wait hours to find out if their son or daughter had survived.

The pros of having cell phones in the classroom outweigh the cons. We believe the removal of cell phones in the classroom is detrimental to students. We strongly believe cell phones can be useful tools in education. We need to learn responsible cell phone usage in school as cell phones have become common place in society. We firmly believe that all students should have the freedom to carry cell phones during the day, in addition to accessibility when appropriate. We believe the current policy needs to be rescinded.

Please sign this petition to promote this positive change to Elk Rapids High School. Thank You.

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