If the Prince George school district board is looking to move past endless, unnecessary debate about SOGI instruction and to mend fences with the Prince George District Teachers Association, here’s an idea: ban cellphones in classrooms.
Ontario has already done it provincewide and Quebec is in the process of doing the same but the NDP government in B.C. lacks the leadership to follow suit, deferring to individual schools and teachers.
This could serve as a nice way for school board chair (and B.C. Conservative candidate in Prince George-Mackenzie) Rachael Weber and teachers association president Daryl Beauregard to actually do some meaningful work together to improve student outcomes, rather than just call for the other to resign on social media over their political differences.
There is a growing amount of research to support what is an obvious truth to the parents of children and teenagers. Cellphones and the social media apps on them are addictive technology that damage mental health, especially in young people.
As for the parents and guardians who insist that their children should be available on their cell at all hours, including when they’re in class, here’s what U.S. comedian Bill Maher says: “you’re a parent, not a probation officer.”
In case of emergencies, every parent’s child is one phone call to the school office away, as they always have been.
The details are simple. Teachers collect phones at the start of each class and return them at the end, meaning students would still have their phones while at school, only outside of class time. That would also give teachers the individual discretion to not collect phones if they are being used for research.
Teenagers will stash their phones in their purses or pockets, of course, but that’s fine, too. So long as the phones are put away so the students can concentrate on what they’re supposed to be doing in class, everybody wins.
Neil Godbout is the Citizen’s editor