New cellphone policy needs student input to foster ‘safe and nurturing environment’

Watkins+Mill+High+Schools+new+cell+phone+policy+focuses+on+teacher+choice%2C+but+leaves+some+students+feeling+trapped.+

Michelle Batres

Watkins Mill High School’s new cell phone policy focuses on teacher choice, but leaves some students feeling trapped.

The introduction of this year’s new cell phone policy has, unsurprisingly, been met with an array of disapproval, predominantly coming from the student population. To many, it comes off as archaically rigid and reeks of totalitarian control.

The greatest mistake that the new policy makes is that it fails to establish enough nuance. 

The cell phone policy is constructed as a pyramid divided horizontally into four stages with each stage representing a different level, leaving little wiggle room for emergencies and unforeseen events.

Punishments given to violators of this system can range from a warning to the confiscation of the device and detention time. The underlying issue with this is that the penalties do not feel like the “safe and nurturing environment” that the school continuously claims to be its mission.

Moreover, continuing to enforce such strict regulations only worsens the already-existing stigma around school.

When students know their teacher will confiscate their phone if they use it, while their friends are allowed to use theirs freely, this disdain can leak into other areas of school life, such as a lack of school pride, an unwillingness to participate in class, and a reluctance to engage in extra-curricular activities.

We understand the need for a cell phone policy. The absence of rules in the classroom will inevitably result in a tornado of chaos, as there is no frame of reference for the students to follow, and upset the teacher-student dynamic needed to sustain a functioning classroom. Thus, a more elaborate solution is, in fact, needed.

Rather than enforcing fixed policies, we would like administrators and teachers to work to decide on regulations that accommodate the needs of all students while maintaining an effective learning atmosphere. In turn, it will foster a safe and nurturing environment, thus truly fulfilling the mission statement the school has set for itself.

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