Cell Phone Policy Dispute At Tosa West

Jenna White and Olivia Watters

Throughout the year, students and teachers have disagreed with the current cell phone policy at West. Many students do not follow the policy and staff members feel a stricter policy should be enforced. 

As of right now, the policy includes cell phones being stored away in backpacks during class but can be used during study periods, passing time, and lunch hours. Phones are not supposed to be seen during class unless instructed otherwise, but currently, that rule is not followed by many students.

“I think that for the most part, the way I see it is, phones are more detrimental to the learning environment because they’re being utilized at times when they’re not supposed to be out,” said Teacher Chad Mateske.

Mateske talks about phones being a distraction to student’s learning, and wants to change the policy so that student’s focus in class increases. 

 “In my observations, if I had to stop and address phones being out in every class period, I would have to stop class about 15 times. It’s the biggest waste of my time and a waste of the student’s time. It’s impacting the student’s learning and it doesn’t help anything when you involve social media and the fights.” said Mateske. 

Based on a survey sent to students at West, many students disagree. 70.4% of students believe that cell phones do not disrupt their learning experience.

“I feel that we as high schoolers should be able to focus on our learning and be able to use our phones when it is a proper time with respect to our schoolwork,” said Junior Anna Connolly.

Though a majority of students feel their phones are not disruptive, other students feel that they are. 

“I think phones disrupt learning because when I’m in class and a teacher is teaching, I’m just thinking about what is happening on my phone, which doesn’t allow me to fully understand things in class. I feel a stricter policy would help because we’re at school to learn so we should learn instead of worrying about our phones.” said Freshman Cayden Parker. 

Because of the phones disrupting class time, certain teachers are currently working to change Tosa West’s policy, and administration has been contacted. Some teachers feel that changing the policy has become the only way to keep students engaged in class. 

“I am quite literally working with administration right now to figure out if it is acceptable for me to tell kids that when they arrive in my room they immediately put their cell phones in the cell phone pouch holder, and they can’t get it until the end of the period, or they can get it when it’s work time,” said Mateske.

English teacher Trevor Russell believes cell phones are a bigger problem in some classes more than others. He wants phones to be kept in phone caddies throughout the entirety of the class period. 

Many schools across Southeastern Wisconsin have similar policies. Brookfield East, Brookfield Central, and Nicolet High School all use cell phone caddies, and phones are not allowed in bathrooms. However, they are allowed during study halls, passing time, and lunch periods.

“I do not believe that we should have a stricter phone policy, I feel that we as high schoolers should be able to focus on our learning and be able to use our phones when it is a proper time with respect to our schoolwork,” said Connolly.

Based on a survey sent to Tosa West staff members, 95% of them strongly believe that West needs to implicate a stricter policy.

“Students who struggle in school are disproportionately affected by their phones- those who are having the hardest time understanding are most always the first ones to pick up a distraction- whether it’s their phone or something else. We have to protect those students from that natural tendency and help our kids feel more confident in the zone of discomfort. Creating a phone policy is a large factor in how I think we need to do that.” said an anonymous staff member.

There was recently a staff meeting regarding the potential of a new policy. Although a new policy has not been officially created, it is expected that there will be a change during the second semester.