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đź”— How a Connecticut middle school won the battle against cellphones | The Washington Post:

The problem was cellphones. Students were using the devices in class, despite a rule against it. Social media was exacerbating nearly every conflict among students. When Dolphin walked the hallways or surveyed the cafeteria, he invariably saw heads bent over screens.

So in December, Dolphin did something unusual: He banned them.

The experiment at Illing Middle School sparked objections from students and some parents, but it has already generated profound and unexpected results.

Our local school district introduced the same policy two years ago (as well as the same Yondr pouch solution) to similar howls of protest from students and families.

I am generally skeptical of broad claims about how cellphones are ruining a generation of kids or are some sort of unique threat. These claims have all the markers of a classic moral panic and do not seem all that different from the same sort of claims that have been made about comic books, rock and roll, TV, and video games.

When the policy was originally announced here in town, it felt a bit like an act of desperation. We were in the midst of a pretty disastrous return to in-person learning after COVID and administrators were pretty much throwing everything at the wall. Got some grant money to buy these pouches? Sure, why not? It seemed to me at the time like the district’s limited resources would be better focused on recruiting and retaining teachers, but whatever—couldn’t hurt to try.

There were, of course, a torrent of complaints—mostly in local Facebook groups, but also during public comment at School Committee meetings—about this policy. It was a waste of money, students need their phones, what if there’s a school shooting, and on and on.

Two years later, the phone pouch policy has turned out to be pretty innocuous. For the most part, the kids put their phones in the pouches at arrival each morning and take them out as they leave the school during dismissal. No one seems all that bothered by the policy and process at this point, and none of the problems the complainers were speculating about have actually manifested.

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