Meridian Star

State/Region

November 16, 2012

Cell phone use in Miss. schools a possibility

TUPELO, Miss. —  

It may not be long until it becomes common to hear teachers start a lesson by asking students to pull out their cell phones.

As schools try to add more technology during a time when they are receiving less funding, many will begin to consider allowing students to use devices they already own. That will include cell phones and electronic tablets like iPads.

"Why do you keep buying technology when people have in their pocket phones that are more powerful than computers used to be?" said Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden.

The idea of the Bring Your Own Technology initiative is beginning to be used by schools across the country as a way they can save money by only buying devices for those who don't already own them. Cell phones and tablets can be used for research, interaction and storing digital textbooks, among other things.

"If school districts are not looking at things like that, they are going to fall behind," said New Albany Superintendent Jackie Ford.

Some Northeast Mississippi school districts, such as New Albany and Tupelo, currently have policies that generally ban students from using their cell phones on campus but allow for exceptions when teachers want to use them for educational purposes. It may be a model that others eventually follow.

Pontotoc municipal schools Superintendent Karen Tutor said her district, which does not currently allow student cell phone use, has had conversations for the past year about possible changes. The key, she said, is finding the proper rules and procedures to govern their use.

"We haven't made policy changes yet, but yes, I do expect it to come," she said.

So does Booneville Superintendent Todd English, who noted that technology requirements in the new Common Core curriculum will force school districts to make changes.

Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said he can see both the benefits and dangers of students using cell phones at school. And while the district does not have immediate plans to allow their use in classrooms, he wouldn't be surprised if that eventually changes.

"Twenty years from now, students may not believe that there was once a day when they couldn't use cell phones in school," he said.

 

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