Automatic Suspension

USA TODAYMichigan School District Cracks Down on Cellphones, iPods appears in USA Today. Rather than having electronic devices confiscated or serving a detention, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools have begun automatic suspensions. Students are slapped with a one-day suspension for the first violation. Students could be suspended for up to five days for more than three violations.

The main reason for such harsh consequences? You guessed it: they might be used for cheating. Forget that handheld devices have potentially great educational value. Forget that assessment should be more than memorizing facts that can easily be looked up. Forget that outside of school, looking up information on your mobile device is not cheating, it's being resourceful (and becoming a necessary life skill). Forget about teaching ethics. Just ban utensils that could enable cheating. Perhaps this should include paper and pens, which are much more commonly used for cheating. Heck, ban the air supply so students can't possibly whisper answers to one another!

Plymouth-Canton's director for student services is quoted in the article, "This was not done capriciously. ...We want to teach people responsible use." What? First, I had to look up the word capriciously. Knowing what that means didn't clear up my confusion. Automatic suspension is not teaching students responsible use. Suspending a student for bringing an iPod to school is in no way guiding learners in how to use technology responsibly. I'm not opposed to suspensions for cheating, but for simply bringing a potential learning device into school? No way.

I enjoyed reading the comments on Michigan School District Cracks Down on Cellphones, iPods:

  • genxer65 wrote: "Kids do need to learn when to use these devices and when not to."
  • o050441 wrote: "Humans survived thousands of years without a cellphone. There is no NEED for this technology to live day to day. It's a luxury, a privilege or even a crippling disease."
  • Eldiablo wrote: "Don't use them during school hours, how hard is that to follow?"
  • mistamilla wrote: "There's another issue being overlooked: the damage / theft of iPods and cellphones. I know this a teacher, you'd be STUNNED at the number of calls our school gets.....get this now....the number of parents that want us, the school, to REPAIR or REPLACE Johnnie's or Susie's damaged property."
  • commonpurposecon wrote: "Suspension just allows them to use the devices all day long and not in school. Have the library confiscate the devices with no guarantee that they will see it again."
  • RD72987 wrote: "Its not just iPods and cell phones, get rid of all of the elements of cheating....People copy other peoples homework in study hall, heck that's what study hall was for."
I realize cheating is an important issue. I know phones and iPods can be distractions. But, schools should integrate students' miniature computing and communication devices into learning. Banning and suspension is cheating students of access to valuable tools.