Mountain Pointe cannot afford electronics ban - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Letters To The Editor

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Mountain Pointe cannot afford electronics ban

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Posted: Monday, October 1, 2007 11:00 pm

Dear Editor: When I read the Aug. 22 article "iPod restriction gives off good vibes," I was alarmed that Corinne Frayer managed to find a student who was in support of the Electronic Device Ban - I've been looking since school started, and I've still yet to find one. So I talked to Lucas Welling, the individual whom Frayer quoted, and found that he was upset with the article. Apparently, he felt that his views were misrepresented. For starters, the giant picture at the top of the article, which was captioned, "Lucas Welling leans in for a kiss from his girlfriend..." was actually a picture of Lucas reaching into his backpack, which was behind him. But the misrepresentation doesn't stop there, according to Lucas, Frayer asked what he thought about the rule and he replied negatively, indicating a strong distaste for it. This, she neglected to mention in her article. So, it is as I expected: Frayer didn't actually manage to find a student who was in support of the Electronic Device Ban. She did, however, find a school administrator who appreciates the rule, which comes as no surprise to me. Assistant Principal Patricia Goolsby is quoted in the article as saying, "We haven't eliminated or banned (electronic devices)." I find this interesting, since the minutes at the Mountain Pointe Site Council meeting included discussion of, and I quote, the "Electronic Device Ban." I don't think it's fair that administrators can enact a policy and then call it something else when they talk to the media. Soft-pedaling the confiscation of expensive electronic equipment for the media doesn't make a ban anything less than what it is: a ban. In all of this, it is abundantly clear that Corinne Frayer decided what story to write, and then descended upon Mountain Pointe's campus in search of evidence to support her point of view. I encourage Frayer to come back to Mountain Pointe and write another article that accurately reflects the views of students. Later in the article, Frayer quoted Goolsby mocking Mountain Pointe students: "(The students) say things like, 'I don't understand why you're doing this. It's our music and our lunch." Why, exactly, is this an unreasonable question? It would be naive to say that students have the entire Bill of Rights worth of rights on campus, but exactly what rights don't they have? Surely there are limits to what rights school administrations can take from their students. It seems to me that confiscating student property oversteps these bounds. No one will argue that certain things should not be banned on campus; clearly weapons, drugs and alcohol do not belong on school property. But Mountain Pointe's administration has recently added iPods to this menacing list of items. Guns, knives, marijuana, Jose Quervo and iPods - one of these things is not like the others. Beyond all of this, the principles behind this ban are unfounded at best and Luddite at worst. One of the arguments I've heard time and time again in this discussion also surfaces in Frayer's article: "By eliminating these distractions we promote socialization," Goolsby says. There are two glaring flaws in this rationality. First, text messages represent a new form of socialization - a new method of communication using a new technology in a new age. How can Goolsby say socialization is "promoted" by the elimination of such a technology? What is perhaps more important, though, is this: how a student socializes is not the school's responsibility. The school is not allowed, and should not be allowed, to decide who a student befriends, who a student talks to, or how a student communicates. If the administration has imposed the ban based on this rationale, it has far exceeded its responsibilities, and the ban must be immediately reversed. As far as other technologies like iPods and Palm Pilots goes, the new policy is simply a step in the wrong direction. Whether the administration likes it or not, the progression of technology is unstoppable. Banning all technology from the campus is the first step on the retrograde path from Mountain Pointe High to Luddite High. For Mountain Pointe, an "Excelling School" which derives so much Pride from its reputation as a college preparatory academy, insisting on hiding a major part of the college experience from its students is inconsistent. At Arizona State University, as at other major universities, one of the most common methods of listening to lectures is via podcasted recordings of these lectures. Students download lectures to their iPods, and then listen to - and even watch - them at their own conveniences. Like iPods, cell phones are an integral part of campus life at ASU. Students use them to coordinate study groups, give presentations and to organize meetings of organizations like student government. Students use Web-enabled cell phones to register for classes, submit assignments, review grades, gather information for reports and communicate in real time with their professors. To deprive Mountain Pointe's students of an environment in which they can learn to use these new tools is folly and motion in entirely the wrong direction. In short, Mountain Pointe cannot afford this ban, and if it isn't reversed within this school year, I fear that it may spread like a virus to other schools in the Tempe Union High School District. Schools should move forward, not backward - embracing information technology, not rejecting it. I respectfully request that Mountain Pointe's administration reconsider this ill-advised policy and I encourage concerned citizens to join me in petitioning for the ban's repeal. Andy Sannier

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