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Cellphones make a comeback in the classroom, with teachers’ support

LA School Report | November 25, 2015

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Logo_LATimesBy Daniela Gerson

Priscilla Farinas, an English teacher at Social Justice Humanitas Academy in San Fernando, faced her 31 students recently and made an announcement that seemingly violates official Los Angeles Unified policy.

“This is the one and only time I will have you take out your cellphones,” she said, instructing the students to share their definitions of “privilege” via text message as part of a lesson on “The Great Gatsby.”

Students immediately grabbed their mobile devices. Their texts populated a screen in the front of the classroom. Every student appeared focused on their schoolwork.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, an official policy mandates confiscating phones used inappropriately in class; students can have their devices if they are off. But schools enforce that rule unevenly. Many teachers take alternative discipline approaches such as placing phones in paper bags on desks, turning a blind eye, and simply asking students to put them away.

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