A week ago, the district human service person came by our staff meeting to make a 45 minute presentation on cyberbullying and the implications of the new law signed by Gov. Brown in 2011 that allows schools to take action against students who harm others on social media.
Three weeks ago, I made a video based on A Vision of Students Today for my school’s SOAR program. It was apparently a hit among the staff and students. We launched an anti-bullying campaign using my video.
Three days ago, I got chewed out by a parent when I confronted a student for using their cellphone without teacher permission while on campus.
Dear Parent Who Chewed My Out,
Sure, your child has every right to make contact with you on the cellphone you gave them. But do you know about MY rights?
1. I have a right to do my job as a teacher.
2. I have a right to a safe working environment free from parental bullying.
3. I have a right to enforce the school rules and procedures in order to maintain a safe campus for everyone.
4. I have a right to blog about your horribleness to me.
Your child had her phone out on campus without permission from a teacher. It didn’t matter that it was past 9PM. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t during class. It didn’t matter that you gave her your personal cell phone to use. It didn’t matter that you had called her 6 times previously. It didn’t matter that your child had ignored your 6 previous phone calls in order to have fun with her friends at the dance. She was on campus, at school sponsored function. Her choices were:
A. To ask a teacher for permission to use her phone and to call you in that teacher’s presence.
B. To walk out to the phone zone at the end of dance and use her phone to call you.
Because did you know it is illegal to make any video or audio recording while on campus, during school or at a school function, without permission?
Did you know public schools were recently given the power to suspend, or take any disciplinary action that it sees fit, in cases of students using technology in such a way that affects the school environment? That you, the parent, are legally responsible as well?
So my job is to protect that space – to protect the school environment. One of the ways we do so is to make students ask permission before using their electronics. It wasn’t as if I, or any of my colleagues, would have said no if your child had asked to call you after the dance. We are not only reasonable people, we know that your child needs to contact you when a school even is over. We have a structure in place for that to happen. Students are not allowed to use technology without supervision while on school grounds, during school or after school functions.
But she didn’t ask. And you, of course, have no idea what educators are fighting against. If you really cared to find out, just input these words into a youtube search: school, fight, funny.
It sounds pretty preposterous to you, maybe, that the school is so strict about cell phone usage. You probably don’t understand: we are a middle school. Not a college campus. Not a high school. Not a typical workplace where adults are the only people around. We are a campus where the people with underdeveloped frontal lobes out-number the rest of us 35-to-1. There must be structure in place that protects us all.
You have rights, as you said. I do not disagree. But your rights to not include infringing upon mine. And if you push into my rights, I’ll push back.