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Taft Today

Why We Need Phone Trees

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Courtesy of editors.

On Sep. 8, 2020, many students were surprised to see the new phone tree policy Taft High School decided to begin enforcing. The new policy has been widely received negatively and argued against by students since its creation, however I’m willing to make the argument that the phone tree is actually a necessary tool to maximize productivity during class time.

Students often claim that the phone tree is unnecessary. They argue that it’s an insulting overreach of power that makes it seem like high school students can’t control themselves around their phone. 

Zachary McCain, a junior student here at Taft High school, said, “The phone tree makes me feel like I’m in kindergarten. I’m able to control myself.”

However when talking to administration, they see it a different way. I asked Mark Grishaber, Taft High School’s Principal, about why the school decided the new policy was necessary. 

“For every seven kids that could stay on task and put it in their backpack, there were 3 that could not. 30 percent of our kids just have to look at their phones and anytime it beeps they are programmed to look at it. And so we have to be able to have uninterrupted relevant instruction for 50 minutes. That’s why we have them all put it in the phone tree,” said Grishaber.

There is a legitimate concern for school safety as the underlying reason for the phone tree. When students are able to communicate with people outside of the building there becomes a real possibility of a student being able to let a threat in the building. 

“Do you as a student want a kid to be able to let a kid in a backdoor because he’s getting texts at that time?” asks Mr. Grishaber. “It’s a safety issue too.”

But according to Grishaber safety is just one part of the issue, students having access to their phones during class is also affecting their academic honesty.

“I’ve sat in classes where the phone tree wasn’t being used and there was a test, and kids were in the back row taking pictures of the test while the teacher was just oblivious to that,” said Grishaber.

When I asked Grishaber about what went into the creation of the policy and he provided more context into why the policy is so strict. 

“We introduced it three years ago after covid. And the problem was that you got some teachers that have perfect control over their classrooms. But then you got other teachers that don’t have that ability, so what happened was the kids were going to them and saying ‘Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones is not using it, why do we have to do it in your class?’ So the kids were feeling targeted. So we just made it across the board.”

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About the Contributor
Ben Fitzner, Reporter