Washougal resident Ken Klopman offers his support for House Bill 2018
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com
House Bill 2018 is currently making its way through the Washington State Legislature. Representative Stephanie McClintock writes in an email to her constituents that HB 2018 “would improve students’ educational success by restricting cell phone use in public schools. Mobile device use in our public schools has become a chronic issue and our kids are suffering because of it.” HB 2018 calls for a 2-year pilot program at select pilot sites and it directs that the superintendent of schools considers strategies such as limiting device use to specified time periods, designated locations, or during particular activities, and limiting use by requiring students to leave mobile devices at the front of the classroom or in an administrative office, or to place mobile devices in a secure container.
As a now-retired police supervisor over my (So Cal) agency’s School Resource Officer (SRO) program, I wholly support the intent behind HB 2018 aiming to reduce distractions, bullying, harassment, etc. Sadly, social media coupled with cameras in mobile devices has become a bane in our society. Suggested measures such as limiting device use to specified time periods, designated locations, or during particular activities are reasonable impositions which may actually help to accomplish the intent of the bill. Other suggested measures, however, such as requiring students to leave mobile devices at the front of the classroom or in an administrative office or to place mobile devices in a secure container serve simply to trade one problem for another and this language must be removed from the bill before it is put before the chamber for a vote.
We are all keenly aware of the threat of armed intruders at schools and other public gathering places and we should all be vehemently opposed to any attempt by the School District or the State of Washington to limit our children’s access to their only means of safety and life-saving communication. It stands to reason that – in the midst of the chaos that expectedly accompanies a violent attack – our children will be 1) forced to run or hide without any means of communication with their parents, 9-1-1, or other help, or 2) they will unnecessarily delay as they mob the front of the classroom, administrative office, or secure container trying to gather their phones before fleeing or hiding and thereby further endangering their lives. In Run-Hide-Fight training, audiences are generally instructed to call or text 9-1-1 once they have reached a relatively safe place and to report what they know (the assailant’s last known location, description, weapons, number of assailants, location of the injured, location and number of those sheltering-in-place, etc.) This cannot be done if students’ phones are in a secure container, in an administrative office, or otherwise left behind as a result of their haste to flee or hide.
Many of us recognize the government’s ability to overreach, so it is critically important that Representatives McClintock, Couture, Waters, Rude, Reed, Cheney, Doglio, and Caldier pass a piece of legislation that limits superintendents’ authority only to that which is necessary to accomplish the bill’s intent. We will have failed our children if our best intentions (via HB 2018) result in an improved learning environment that is free of nefarious mobile devices … yet which endangers our children when their lives are at risk, and they need us the most.
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