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News / Opinion / Letters to the Editor

Letter: Classrooms not the place for phones

By Bob Harper, Vancouver
Published: February 20, 2024, 6:00am

Rarely has an editorial in The Columbian been as profoundly right as that of Feb. 8 (“Enforce cellphone restrictions in schools,” In Our View). As someone who has been a substitute in high schools in the Vancouver, Evergreen and Camas school districts for 22 years, I have seen cellphone usage metastasize and displace learning in favor of entertainment, games and gossip. It is disheartening to teachers, and the damage to students and to society has yet to be calculated. It is no exaggeration whatsoever to call it what it is: addiction.

To treat this addiction will require the cooperation of teachers, administrators, school boards, and — critically — parents. I have all too frequently asked a student to put away his phone, only to be told, “I’m just texting my Mom,” as if that made it OK. Unless parents agree, it will be difficult to make a good policy stick. They need to understand that the right way to communicate with a student who is at school is to call the school and be connected to the student’s class, not to send a text to the student’s phone, convenient as that may be. Cellphones are fine in their place, but the classroom is not that place.

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