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A text message to students

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Now they call it “text messaging.” Once upon a time, though, we used to call it “passing notes.”

No matter the terminology or technology, students will find a way to get a message to one another before, during and after class — if the message is important enough, like who’s going to the dance.

We did it with pencil and paper; students today have cell phones.

The Nevada Legislature was right to leave the determination of where and when to prohibit cell phones to individual school districts, and the Carson City School district was right to take a common-sense approach.

The policy drafted by the school board says it’s OK to bring cell phones to high school, but not to use them during class or testing. At middle and elementary schools, they may be used only before or after school.

Banning cell phones, which was the case under the old state law, only served to drive them out of sight and make rule-breakers out of the students who used them.

There’s nothing inherently intrusive or disruptive about using a cell phone. Why keep them out of the hands of kids who are able to handle them responsibly?

Like anything else, cell phones are only as disruptive as the people who use them. If we tried to chronicle the items — pens, rubber bands, keys, lipstick — that teachers have confiscated over the years because somebody found a way to employ them in an obnoxious manner, we’d never end.

Believe us, we’ve been at plenty of meetings, movies and church services where we wished mean ol’ Mrs. Purcell would come around to confiscate playthings from adults.

The policy on cell phones tells students: We trust you to follow the rules, and we believe the vast majority of you will. For those who don’t, the privilege will be revoked.

That’s a pretty straightforward message, whether it’s sent on a folded-up slip of paper or a digital signal bounced off a satellite.