Our school board, without much fanfare - which either means the local media was sleeping yet again, or the school board really didn't want to make an issue of it, or both - has made a slight change in wording in our district-wide cell phone policy. That slight change of wording, however, may have some pretty serious consequences.
Previous policy stated that cell phones must be off and stored in a student's locker until the end of school. No big deal. Kids usually hang their backpacks in their locker, and at the same time, they turned off their phones and put them away as well. When a kid lost his or her locker (we take them away if they chronically don't come to class prepared), we'd simply have the kid turn in his or her phone to us and we'd lock them up in our file cabinet and then give them back at the end of the day. No problem. For the most part it worked well except for the chronic offenders (and I had none last year) who absolutely could not live without texting all day long.
Now the policy states that they have to be turned off and put away. Put away means in a pocket, in a purse, or even in a locker. But the crux of the matter is that they can have their phones with them as long as they are off.
Now some teachers are upset that kids could sneakily whip the phones out and take pictures of their tests and email them to their students. (I, for one, am not too concerned about this because even when I let my kids use their notes on their tests, they didn't do any better.) There is some concern on the part of Administration that they'll have a stampede of pissed off parents in the front office after someone wrote up their little darling for some infraction and the little darling went to the bathroom, whipped out a phone and called to complain to the parents. That's not to include those of us who are just not wanting to have to deal with phones going off in class.
However, the folks that are really concerned, and truth be told, they have a right to be, are the PE teachers. They probably see, more than any of us, the bullying and teasing that goes on with large groups of kids and they are foreseeing a lot of trouble with cell phones (specifically cell phone cameras) in the locker rooms. Let's face it, kids this age aren't exactly good at making decisions and they can be horribly mean to each other. It's simply a matter of time before one of these knuckleheads takes a video or photo of someone in the locker room (in a state of undress) and then we'll find it texted to all their friends and posted on YouTube within minutes. I can see how a very shy seventh grade girl (Crying Girl comes to mind) would have a complete melt-down if something like this happened to her. It's vicious, it's mean, and it's so middle school.
I'm sure the school board thought that they'd be making their lives easier by eliminating the parents who were complaining that kids got write ups for cell phones that dropped out of pockets and fell out of purses. However, I'm not sure they'll be prepared for the wrath of a parent of a kid who is cyberbullied as the result of cell phones in the school. We have enough trouble with cyber-bulling as it is.