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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Schools should revise cellular telephone rules

Local schools should review their official policies regarding cellular telephone possession and use on school property and revise those rules to better reflect reality.

In "The Cider House Rules," John Irving's remarkable novel (and later an Academy award-winning film), the rules alluded to in the title are posted on a wall. They are the official code of conduct for those working in the cider house and apple orchard, as established by the owner.

But the men and women who work, live, eat and sleep together in the cider house day after day set the real rules, established by years of experience. They are more practical than the official, posted rules. They are strictly enforced and, for the most part, they work and keep people safe.

The point of "The Cider House Rules" is that people are going to do what they have to — sometimes in violation of the official rules. To be effective, rules of conduct need to reflect reality.

In schools today, the reality is that students are going to carry cellular telephones, regardless of the official rules prohibiting them. Many times, however, teachers and administrators wisely look the other way when they see a cell phone in use but no harm being done. But selectively enforced rules are ineffective rules and unfair to those upon whom punishment is decreed.

Schools should prohibit the use of the devices during classes (they can be disruptive and could possibly be used to cheat). But simple possession of a cell phone should not be grounds for disciplinary action. Nor should the use of phones between classes or before or after school.

Most parents give their children cell phones because the devices provide a way to get in touch with them in a pinch. They are a valuable tool providing safety and peace of mind.

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