Pa. Lawmakers Mull Cell Phone Ban For Schools
As it turned out, she was on the wrong side of history.
But the reactionary impulse sparked by innovation still lingers. The latest example comes from Pennsylvania, where state lawmakers introduced House Bill No. 363, according to Techdirt. The measure would prohibit students from possessing cell phones, iPods or other portable electronic devices in school, on school buses and at school-sponsored activities. The bill would only allow schools to make exceptions for students who belong to volunteer fire companies, ambulances or rescue squads, and for those who need cell phones for their medical conditions or the medical conditions of immediate family members.
Should Pennsylvania press ahead with this ban, it would join 10 other states that also ban cell phones from school premises, according to this New York Times article.
So far, the measure is drawing pushback in Pennsylvania. Opponents -- including teachers -- have formed a new Facebook group, "Proponents of Progressive Education Opposed to PA House Bill 363," and have also started an online petition drive. "We see this bill as a backward step in the quest to make Pennsylvania students nationally and globally competitive," states the petition. As of this morning, it had been signed by almost 250 people.
It's always going to be difficult to convince everyone that the benefits of new technology outweigh potential harms. Some people argue that cell phones enable cheating on tests, while others say they distract students from paying attention.
But, like the computer, calculator, ballpoint pen, or any other invention that makes life easier for people, cell phones and iPods also confer obvious benefits. For instance, schools throughout the country are now creating podcasts, while parents have long used cell phones to reach their children in emergencies.
Technology is only going to continue to improve, and digital media will inevitably become more important -- both to students and teachers. This bill, if enacted, won't change that, but could potentially put Pennsylvania students at a disadvantage to those who grow up in more tech-savvy jurisdictions.
Of course, in an era where even the leader of the free world had to fight to keep his BlackBerry, it shouldn't be surprising that government officials don't always recognize the benefit of technology.