As students at Brien McMahon approach the end of the first semester of the 2019 school year, it is a time of reflection back upon the first two quarters of this school year. One of the most controversial policies implemented by the BMHS administration was the Cell Phone Confiscation Policy.
Announced by Principal Scott Hurwitz in an email to families on August 28, 2018, the new rule involves teachers mandatorily collecting student cell phones in a plastic bin at the beginning of class. Students are returned their devices before the class period ends, and are forced to utilize school-sanctioned and heavily regulated chromebooks until then.
The new rules were developed by ROTC Colonel Killackey and several teachers over the summer of 2018, due to a supposed rampant issue with technology addiction among students. The policy seemed to prove popular with some of McMahon’s staff in the initial weeks of implementation, although several refused to comply with the new regulations, viewing it as a waste of class time or simply unnecessary in the first place.
Among the students, however, the policy is notably less popular. “In some classes… [the cell phone policy] is a waste of time,” says Billy Begos (‘20).
Others note the lack of enforcement of the policy. When asked if any of his teachers collect cell phones in class, junior Max Parizot responded in a resoundant “Nope.”
Similarly, Owen McClung (‘20) claimed that only a few of his teachers abide by the relevant rules.
To examine the enforcement of the cell phone policy, I surveyed six anonymous teachers about their enforcement of the cell phone policy. Their responses are listed in the chart below.
It appears that the enforcement of the cell phone policy amongst instructors varies. However, it is worth noting that several teachers determine whether to enforce the policy based on the maturity of their class.
For example, business teacher Mr. Scalise acknowledges that his level of enforcement of the cell phone policy depends on the class he is teaching. “It works really well with freshman,” he says. Scalise argues that the policy is necessary to deal with misbehaving freshman and lowerclassmen, whereas older, more mature classes are able to act responsibly. In regards to a successful execution of the policy, he claims that “it will work if every teacher stands in front of their doorway at the beginning of class [and forcibly collects phones].”
Assuming the continuation of the policy in the future, it seems that the questions surrounding McMahon’s cell phone rules will continue to be discussed. Multiple students and teachers seem to view the policy as a failure in both implementation and execution. While a chronic issue with technology addiction undoubtedly exists at McMahon, prospective solutions must be always examined carefully - and should be reworked if necessary in the future.