The ubiquity of smartphones has become a big issue for schools and teachers. Teachers have to keep a constant eye out for students tapping away under their desks or listening to music instead of listening to instruction.
Increasingly, entire school districts are adopting policies barring cellphone use in class, including the Everett school district.
When school starts there next week, elementary and middle school students will not be allowed to use phones except before and after school. High school students will have a bit more leeway; they’ll be able to use their devices during transition periods and at lunch, but have to turn them off for class.
Larry Fleckenstein, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning in the Everett school district, led the process of developing the new policy.
“While we were working on supporting the learning focus in the classroom by not having cellphones become a distraction, it was also very important to our community that cellphones were accessible in case of an emergency,” Fleckenstein said.
So students will be allowed to have their phones close by, for example, in their backpacks, he said.
Mukilteo adopted a district-wide policy on student cellphone use back in 2011. Other districts, such as Seattle and Highline, leave it up to each school to set the rules. Tacoma also gives schools some discretion.
But Tacoma’s parent resource handbook warns that phones can be confiscated if a student uses a phone or electronic device “in a manner that disrupts the educational process, invades the privacy or rights of others, or violates district and/or school rules.”
Last December, a Seattle middle school teacher wound up on the receiving end of Twitter vitriol from around the world after his student recorded the teacher warning against sharing content from a controversial YouTube star. The student shared the video clip on Twitter and it subsequently went viral.