Legislators look to ban cell phones at school - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Legislators look to ban cell phones at school

by John Wilmer

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Teens send more than 1billion text messages a day, but a new Iowa bill could change that. Representative Deborah Berry, of Waterloo, is proposing a ban on students using cell phones during school.

In a national survey, teens say that having a cell phone improves their quality of life. In fact, four out of every five teens carry a cell, up 40-percent from recent years. On average kids get their first phone between 10 and 11 years old.

It's tough to walk down the hallways at Cedar Falls High School and not find someone texting. Sophomore Christine Teague has had a cell phone since 7th grade. She uses it to keep in contact with friends and family. 

"If I'm like going to the REC to work out or I'm going to staying late after school to work on a project I just text my mom and tell her I'll be staying after school and I'll be home around 4:30 or something just so she knows where I'm at," said Teague.

Principal Rich Powers says at Cedar Falls they do not allow cell phones in class, but students are allowed to use them during passing periods in the hallways as well as their assigned lunch period.  He disagrees with the proposed legislation.

"I don't know if it's in touch with reality. I also think we make a lot of great decisions locally. Not everything needs to be a mandate. I think the important thing is for our kids to understand how to use them appropriately and in a professional manner," Powers said.

Students at the Cedar Falls middle schools are not allowed to have a cell phone, but the rules have just recently changed for those in high school.

"We've tried to use it as an opportunity to let them earn them some privileges and rights. They are 16, 17, and 18 years old. They're certainly more than capable of handling it," Powers said.

"I can understand why they don't want them in classes because we need to pay attention to the teacher, but I think if teachers say it's find we can use them then I think we should be allowed to," Teague said.

Last October, schools across Iowa loosened their strict bans on cell phones. Students in Waukee, Marshalltown and Ackley can now use cell phones between classes and during lunch. Under the old rules, cell phones couldn't been seen or heard.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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