Monday, September 28, 2015

APS' "state of the art" cell phone policy

There is a problem with one of APS' policies.  The policy, link, has to do with students and the cell phones they carry.

The problem is not a new one, link.  The enforcement of the policy is causing some parents to complain when asked, to a local TV station, link.

The policy, is clearly stated; if by "clearly stated" you mean, to anyone who is a better reader than most high school graduates.

If you test the readability of the policy, you will find it is grade level 13 (Flesch Kincaid).  Students (and their parents) will have trouble reading it until one or both of them get another year of schooling under their belts.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall permit student possession of personal electronic devices on all district property and at all district sponsored activities while the student is under the supervision of district staff. These devices shall be kept out of sight and silenced or powered off during the instructional day unless otherwise permitted by district or school procedures. Use of personal electronic devices that disrupt the instructional day or include unauthorized use shall be prohibited.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall not be responsible for restricting, monitoring or controlling the electronic communications of students; however, it reserves the right to do so.
Not unheard in the history of the leadership of the APS;
  • APS Policies, and
  • apparently unforeseen consequences of the implementation of those policies.
That their cell phone policy has caused problems should come as no surprise. It has to do with their two step decision making model;
  1. Identify the problem and pass along until some leader among them,
  2. takes it upon them self to write a policy that will solve the problem.  
It works like this;
someone decides that a problem, like the problem with student cell phone abuse, had reached a point where the problem is too big to ignore/hide and, teachers cannot, apparently, stop it by themselves. Then a small group of "leaders" sit around discussing the problem until arriving at the inevitable stage; solution by means of the brainstorming the perfect consequence; one that "fits the crime!"  
They look in particular for punishments that fit the crime because they have a nice ring to them, making easy them to sell to uninformed stake and interest holders.

Clearly, confiscation is a punishment that "fits the crime".  The consequence, though it irked some parents, has a really nice ring to it. (No pun intended - suddenly it was there)

Whether it is even legal, remains to be seen.

The more fundamental question,
What should be done with students who routinely and deliberately ignore rules and the authority over them, of adults and their rules?
doesn't come up.

With regard to APS discipline policies, the only thing that every policy has in common with every other is, none of them are based on a philosophical foundation broader than the personal philosophies of a handful of administrators or school board members who wrote them.

APS has no discipline philosophy*.  There is no body of philosophical consensus anywhere.  There is not even agreement over whether deliberately disobedient students should be punished or not.

*A request for any public record even remotely resembling a "discipline philosophy" produced the Student Handbook, formerly the Student Behavior Handbook, also written about the reading level of most students and their parents and which contains no philosophical justification of anything; even justification for printing a handbook that nobody can read.

Policies that have no shared philosophical foundation are inconsistent with each other and often conflict outright.  They are difficult to enforce.  If a student asks, why not, the lack of a philosophical justification leaves enforcers with "because it's the rule" and "because I said so".

Because it's the rule and because I said so don't work.
If they (ever) did, there wouldn't be a problem.

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