Public Schools Across US Move To Ban Cellphones In Classrooms

The conventional wisdom among school administrators over roughly the past eight years was allowing students to bring their cell phones to school was a "common sense" idea particularly when an emergency arises.
A flood displaced resident looks at her cell phone at a temporary shelter at St. Andrews Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina on October 5, 2015. Relentless rain left large areas of the US southeast under water. The states of North and South Carolina have been particularly hard hit, but the driving rain in recent days has spared almost none of the US East Coast. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

At a glance

  • Despite the value of students being able to alter parents of an emergency, phone inside schools have become a distraction.
  • Seven years ago, the former New York City Schools Chancellor said the city’s decision to lift a ban on cell phones in schools was “common sense.”
  • The two decisions and the years between highlight the ongoing debate about the proper place for phones in school in the digital era.
  • Schools across the country continue to struggle with the devices more than 15 years after the release of the first iPhone. Concerns about distractions in class, fights in hallways and other behavior issues have prompted bans in some schools along with statewide legislation to address the issues.
  • Hopewell City Public Schools, which serve about 4,000 students in Virginia, started using locking phone pouches this fall after years of trying to curtail phone use.

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