Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Mimsy Were the Technocrats: As long as we keep talking about it, it’s technology.

Another reason to ban cell phones from schools

Jerry Stratton, May 14, 2007

Scales Elementary in Murfreesboro took air raid drills a step further Thursday night and staged a mass murder drill—without telling the students it was a drill.

Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.

A drill like this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea if (a) the students were told it was a drill, and (b) they learned to do something other than wait to die, such as run away, call the police, barricade the door, or any of the things that have turned out to be useful in similar attacks. Hiding under a table is useful if you expect the roof to cave in or the windows to shatter. It’s not a one-size-fits-all response to any deadly situation.

What I wondered was, in this age of cell phones, didn’t any of the kids call their parents to say goodbye? How did this hoodied teacher manage to avoid getting shot by law enforcement when either a parent or a student called 911? The same way a real murderer would have: the school bans cell phones.

Students shall not possess or use personal communication devices, such as pagers and cellular phones, while on school property or while attending a school-sponsored activity on or off school property unless pre-approved by the school principal.

Students who possess a personal communication device are in violation of this policy and school rules and are subject to the related disciplinary action.

In Cell Phones: Threat to Public Safety, I wrote that schools are used to exercising absolute authority, and that without cell phones students often “submit to some crazy abuses of power on the part of school authorities” and just “hold back tears and give in” when it happens. With cell phones, the balance of power shifts, and school authorities need to think about how their actions play in the real world.

In this sense, cell phone bans are about safety: the safety of school authorities when they pull bone-headed stunts like this.

There are more good things in the school’s code of conduct. The fake attack probably comes under “We believe the school should… provide citizenship experiences necessary to function in a democratic society”. Hiding under a table and waiting to be killed in the dark is an experience all citizens should have.

And this is funny:

PROMOTION AND RENTENTION

Every effort is made to place the pupil where the pupil is afforded the best opportunity to make continuous progress in the instructional structure of the school. In some cases, this results in a pupil’s being reassigned at the same grade level for a second year. The attempt is then made to provide instruction at the pupil’s instructional level rather than merely to have him/her repeat a given “package” of instruction.

Yes, it’s a cheap shot to criticize one spelling error in a 40-page document, but it really shouldn’t happen in the headline to the section that explains why they’re holding your child back a year.

In response to Cell phones: threat to public safety: Cell phones are a part of the decentralization of our society; they are a severe threat to those who prefer centralization and restricted channels of access.

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