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Our view: SD 230 makes right call on cell phones

Updated: March 14, 2013 6:41AM



Time and tide, not to mention cell phone usage, wait for no man, or student either. So Consolidated High School District 230 students soon may be able to use their cell phones to send a quick text or check email during non-class time without getting in trouble.

Yes, we know why students using smartphones at school make administrators uneasy. They have enough of a challenge keeping teens focused on school as it is. But we’ve read the new policy, and it makes sense. For better or worse, it’s the 21st century. A cell phone isn’t just a phone any more.

The District 230 school board has tentatively approved the revised policy — allowing students at Andrew, Sandburg and Stagg high schools to use their cell phones, MP3 players, tablets and other electronic devices during non-classroom time.

Under the existing rules, a student can end up in the dean’s office for using a cell phone for any purpose at school. The school board may OK the new policy as soon as this month’s meeting.

We’re glad the board is acknowledging both reality and inevitability, though the district is not forging into an unknown world. The board’s decision brings District 230 up to speed with hundreds of other Illinois schools, including at least 18 in the Southland, that have liberalized cell phone rules.

Though schools have a legitimate reason to prohibit cell phone use in class, students are like everybody else. They use their phones for every aspect of interconnected culture — from making dates to playing games to sharing gossip to the separate universe of activities that even adults would find valuable.

Only 23 percent of teens don’t pack a cell phone or smartphone, according to the Pew Center For Research. If you exclude 13- and 14-year-olds, teen usage is virtually universal. They are online almost continually.

As students in District 230 celebrate their pending Cellphone Emancipation Proclamation, they now confront other realities of public education and technology. The Internet capacity at the three schools is such that if all students logged on simultaneously the system would likely crash. District officials say they’ll work on that, too.



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