Kentucky lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday aimed at ending cellphone distractions in classrooms.
The measure would require local school boards across the Bluegrass State to adopt a policy that, at a minimum, forbids students from using cellphones during instructional time.
“We can’t teach kids that are distracted,” said Republican Rep. Josh Bray, the bill’s lead sponsor.
Exceptions to the ban would include times of emergency or if a teacher allows cellphone use for instructional purposes. Disciplinary action for violating the ban would be decided by local school boards.
“I didn’t think it was important to put in there, like, ‘shall be confiscated’ or something like that because those decisions are best made at the local level,” Bray said.
The bill cleared the House Education Committee with bipartisan support.
Bray said the bill stemmed from a conversation he had with a teacher at an out-of-district middle school basketball game. The teacher told him something had to be done about students’ use of cellphones.
Some Kentucky schools already have policies restricting students’ cellphone use, Bray said. But his bill’s proposed statewide restriction would signal the state’s intention to deal with the problem, he said.
One lawmaker questioned whether the bill should be broadened to apply to students’ use of discreet wireless headphones such as ear buds.
“Because a student may not look like they’re on their phone but they’re totally tuned out,” said Democratic Rep. Tina Bojanowski.
Bray said he was open to considering such a change.
He said the bill would benefit both classroom teachers and school administrators.
“It gives the teacher the support in the classroom because now the administration has to have their back,” he said. “And it gives the administration support because they’ve got to go down this path now.”
The bill now heads to the full House.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.