Parents must monitor, control their children’s cellphone use in school
As a consultant teacher in a local high school, I have the unique opportunity to be in a large variety of classes and to observe them from a different perspective.
I typically stand or sit behind the students near the back of the class. One thing has become increasingly clear over the past few years: Schools are fighting a losing battle with cellphones.
Students have grown attached to their phones to the point of obsession. This obsession is damaging to relationships, functional communication and the ability to attend on all levels.
Many students cannot make it through a class without sending or receiving a text or checking their Facebook account. Even the most diligent teacher is not able to stem the frequent, consistent use of cellphones in class. Obviously this results in decreased focus, loss of instruction and a noticeable decline in performance.
How can we expect students to focus for 30 minutes on a quiz, or for two hours on a Regents exam, when they cannot go 15 minutes without using their phone?
I would urge parents to employ a very simple strategy: Check your child’s phone and text usage on a regular basis, and compare that usage with their class schedule. I, as a parent, would be very interested to know why my son or daughter had texted a friend 14 times during math class. I would also be interested to know when the last time they sent a constructive text like, “Don’t forget to study for our English test this Friday.”
Another recommendation would be to set age-appropriate parameters on phone use. If it is not reasonable to leave the phone at home, eliminate the data plan, which for most students is not needed.
Politicians need to start putting America first
The election is over. The polls are closed.
Let our elected officials forget they are Democrat or Republican, and remember they are American.
Anne E. Fringo
Beware legislative raises in lame-duck session
Now that the elections are over, there is talk again in the media of legislators voting themselves a raise.
Millions have just been spent on campaigns. Do our legislators really understand how the rest of New York state lives?
I implore state legislators and Gov. Cuomo to look around. People are still hurting. State workers took cuts in pay and benefits. At our school, all the staff took cuts in pay and benefits. About 35,000 teachers and other school-related staff have experienced layoffs and are struggling to look for jobs.
Our school is currently looking at insurance again, and suggesting mid-year layoffs. Students cannot take classes they need. Taxpayers are being asked to contribute more, and to possibly override the tax cap. In addition, cuts have been made to mental health and services for the aging; and county nursing homes are being sold.
Upstate residents are still trying to recover from [tropical storms] Irene and Lee. And, of course, downstate residents will need millions to recover from Sandy.
If we must all make sacrifices, then so be it. But if all these cuts were made so the savings could go in legislators’ pockets, that’s really offensive.
Please, legislators, show constituents that you really understand their pain.
Remember this headline: Jan. 3, 2011, WXXI.org article, “Cuomo takes 5 percent pay cut, says everyone must sacrifice.” And a Wall Street Journal article last Jan. 26: “Senators and Assembly members haven’t had a raise in over 10 years. Their base pay is $79,500 for what is considered a part-time job, in addition to leadership stipends worth tens of thousands of dollars and $165 per-day expenses for when they are in Albany.”
Credit due BH-BL seniors for kind veterans’ tribute
On Nov. 8, I attended the annual Veterans’ Recognition Ceremony at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
It was a simple ceremony at the flagpole in front of the school. The senior class attended en masse to honor the vets. The band serenaded us with some music, including the medley of armed forces victory songs. There was the Pledge of Allegiance and our national anthem. Student government leaders read some short speeches, followed by recognition of each veteran by name and service branch.
One student government member encouraged students to thank the veterans and members of the armed forces for their service. What followed next brought tears to the eyes of many.
All 200-plus members of the Class of 2013 came over and shook hands with each of the veterans, thanking us for our service. It was an impressive gesture on their part and a moving example of the goodness of young people.
With all the negative news about today’s kids and schools, this is a positive thing we can be proud of.
Gerard F. Havasy