Staff Editorial: Teachers take a distraction free environment too far

The Accolade Editorial Board count: 8 consider phone pockets are only acceptable during tests, 5 agree that teachers can use the pockets at their own discretion.

The chime of a phone lingers in the air, turning heads toward the sound.

Teachers stop midway in their lectures to call out students caught staring at their glowing laps.

Rampant texting and social media notifications force students to waste precious class time.

A visible problem for both students and teachers, the distracting nature of phones have prompted the district to provide educators with cellphone pocket sleeves in which some students are expected to turn in their phones during the duration of the class period. 

Though phone pockets have been existent in classrooms since the 2021-2022 school year, they have recently become more prevalent in classrooms.

Among the conflicting opinions between teachers and students about the morality of this phone pocket policy, The Accolade Editorial Board agrees that the confiscation of phones is understandable on test days to prevent cheating.

However, some teachers’ choice to force phone submissions daily before the start of class is unnecessary, violating students’ comfort zones and denying access to their devices during potential emergencies. If a student is seen being distracted and off-task during class time because of their electronic device, teachers should have the right to confiscate the phone then. But having possession of all students’ phones without any first offense seems rather extreme.

These large blue banners with numbered phone-sized pouches were one of the responses to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Assembly Bill 272 that authorized school districts to regulate the possession of electronic devices in order to create a more concentrated learning environment in the classroom. 

At Sunny Hills, the phone pockets were only bought and provided for the teachers who requested them, principal Craig Weinreich said. Whether or not they decided to actually implement them is by the instructor’s choice.

While this method is well-meaning, the Editorial Board believes that high school students have passed the age of having the phones taken away, especially without any previous offenses. As in previous years before the appearance of phone pockets, expecting students to keep their phones in their backpacks until the end of class still stands as the simplest and most rational way for both students and teachers to manage the problem with distracting devices.

Of course, students should accept the consequences without any excuses, such as taking away the privilege of putting away their phones just in their backpacks, if they continually disregard the rule to put aside their phones.

The argument that work ethic notably improves when phone usage is discouraged is also undermined by the fact that students are not truly learning how to avoid the temptation of the phone screen — something students should learn themselves rather than with the interference of teachers.

The Accolade Editorial Board is made up of the top editors and section editors on the new 2022-2023 staff with the guidance of adviser Tommy Li. If you have a question about the board’s decision or an issue for the board to discuss and write about, please send an email to [email protected].