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Legislation aimed at lessening non-academic cell phone use in Kentucky schools moves forward.

Left to Right-Bill Sponsor Josh Bray and McKee Representative Timmy Truett
KET Legislative Coverage
Left to Right-Bill Sponsor Josh Bray and McKee Representative Timmy Truett

Legislation addressing student use of cellphones in class won unanimous approval Tuesday in the House Education Committee. It requires school districts to adopt a policy, something already seen in many communities. At a minimum, it forbids student use of a phone during instructional time unless there’s an emergency or directed by a teacher for classwork. Committee Chair James Tipton supports a state directive.

“Students have lost the ability to communicate with other people because they are so dependent on technology. We have concerns about academic progress because of constant distractions in the classroom,” said Tipton.

Tipton said there are student mental health concerns as well. He said he had received no negative reaction by the Kentucky School Boards Association or Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. GOP Bill Sponsor Josh Bray said such a law would give school administrators support to toughen cell phone use. Committee member and retired teacher Steve Riley said the change will not be an easy task, adding many students are addicted to their phones.

Louisville Democratic Representative and teacher Tina Bojanowski said a social media post found other teachers saying, “it’s bad…it’s really bad.”

“Some of the questions though and some very poignant points were why in the world do we have to do a law to do this and how much of a burden then would it put on teachers to enforce that decision and you know dealing with students who push back,” said Bojanowski.

Bray said he had a middle school teacher tell him something had to be done, adding that educator was tired of fighting it and planned to retire. The bill heads on to the full House now.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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