Sunday, December 13, 2009

Journal editors support fighting over cell phones.

In a Journal editorial Sunday, link, the editors weigh in on the decision to fight students over their cell phones. They note;

APS can expect serious pushback.
It should resist that call.
It is easy for the editors to ignore the "push back"; there is not one of them who will suffer the consequences of taking some kid's phone away. No one of them will have the paint on the their car scratched, not one will have something put in a coffee cup left unattended on a desk.

Nor will any one of the people who wrote this "stupid rule", suffer any of the consequence for enforcing it. The simple truth is, there are many school site administrators, principals and assistant principles who will ignore phones, rather than suffer the consequences that follow taking them away.

The heat will be born by a handful of teachers who believe that the worst thing you can do for a kid is tell them they can't do something, and then let them do it anyway. They will try single handed, to avoid yet another instance of permitting prohibited behavior.

Not true? Look back to the district wide ban on "sagging", link.

Based on the "expert" advice of various law enforcement gang units, a decision was made to prohibit sagging. A one point, it was even specifically and explicitly prohibited in school board policy.

Then came the push back; saggers continued to sag and dared those in "authority" to do something about it. In the end, students are still sagging. Please note; this is not about sagging, it is about permitting prohibited behavior.

It is about a bunch of people who haven't been in a classroom in decades, or in the case of Journal editors, people who have never run a classroom at all, coming up with bright ideas for other people to enforce.

There are currently well over 70,000 years of teaching experience in the APS. That experience, that expertise, did not have a seat at the table where this decision was made. It was not they who decided to pick a fight with 90,000 students over cell phones.

The only thing more difficult than enforcing the rules is enforcing "stupid rules". Kids can understand enforcing rules like, no fighting. They may not like it being enforced on them, but they can at least understand the rule. This rule is going to be appreciated as "stupid". And the relative handful of teachers who are going to be stuck with all of the enforcement of "another stupid rule" are going to pay the entire price of enforcement, they are going to feel the entire push back.

Not the administrators and school board members who decided to pick the fight, and not the editors of the Journal, whose advice to those who will feel it, "resist" it.

Worth noting, there is not a single member of the leadership of the APS, neither in the administration or on the board, who is willing to be held honestly accountable to the standards of conduct that they establish and enforce upon students.

There is not one of them willing to lead by their personal example. They are more than willing though, to insist that other people do.

We have to pick our battles, and cell phones are not a hill worth dying on.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Ched for putting into eloquent words, what I as one of those enforcer teachers, go through. You are also right about the administrations ignoring of the rules. At my school, no one knows which of the many rules are being enforced, therefore, no one enforces anything. Want to talk on your phone in class, go ahead, I'm not going to interrupt you're mom calling you. Want to sag, listen to your IPOD, sell your drugs. Whatever. And we wonder why no learning goes on and schools are failing.

Anonymous said...

There is a peaceful compromise to be made here.
First, we should understand why the student doesn't want cell phones taken away. They have texts, pics and videos that are of a personal nature and are afraid strangers will got through their personal stuff. Sometimes teachers, admin and security do go through a student's phone w/o reason.
Second, the schools do not send out a receipt when a teachers sends the phone to the office. This should be a Union issue. If the phone is lost or broken, the teacher is responsible for payment of phone/damages.
Third, the cell phone policy is not clearly written in the schools, and teachers enforce the policy different, which causes confusion and problems.
For years, I've told kids I want their battery,and they can keep their phone. I've never had a kid argue with me about the battery. And batteries aren;t cheap to replace either.
Let's have some common purpose aPS staff and admin. You want the cell phones off w/o an argument, take the battery !!!!!

Anonymous said...

And parents telling teachers: "I have a right to contact my child on her cell phone anytime I want !!!!!" has been said to me a few times before.