"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you
then they fight you,
then you win."
Today, in the Pennsylvania State House, Bill 363 was introduced into the Education Committee. The bill reads:
(a)  The possession by students of telephone paging devices, commonly referred to as beepers, cellular telephones and portable electronic devices that record or play audio or video material shall be prohibited on school grounds, at school sponsored activities and on buses or other vehicles provided by the school district.
(b)  The prohibition against beepers and cellular telephones contained in subsection (a) shall not apply in the following cases, provided that the school authorities approve of the presence of the beeper or cellular telephone in each case:
(1)  A student who is a member of a volunteer fire company, ambulance or rescue squad.
(2)  A student who has a need for a beeper or cellular telephone due to the medical condition of an immediate family member.
Section 2.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.
Now, the students of SLA quickly pointed out that this could easily mean no laptops, but even if you don’t include laptops in the "portable electronic device" (or tape recorders…) this law just doesn’t make sense. Simply put — if we want to teach students to be 21st Century citizens, we shouldn’t ban — by state law — the tools of the 21st Century.
Moreover, the more we ban, prohibit, regulate and legislate, the less we teach. If we want students to learn how to manage their lives, we have to let them live them. This law creates more distance between our schools and the lives our kids lead. That makes it harder for us to teach, not easier. The short-term gain of keeping distractions out of our classrooms is, in my belief, far outweighed by the long-term loss of making our schools less and less relevant to kids. Fortunately, PA educators are mobilizing against the bill. There’s a Facebook group and an online petition, but we can and must do more.
The sponsors of the bill are:
- Angel Cruz (D)
- Rosita Youngblood (D)
- Mark Mustio (R)
- Thomas Caltagirone (D)
- William Kortz (D)
- Douglas Reichley (R)
- Harry Readshaw (D)
- John Sabatina (D)
- John Siptroth (D)
- Curtis Thomas (D)
Please, especially if you are a PA resident, call, write letters, sign the petition, send emails and pass the word. This bill will set back our schools. Help ensure its defeat.