Laws, Research, and SEL

Assembly Bill No. 272

“The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) There is growing evidence that unrestricted use of smartphones by pupils at elementary and secondary schools during the schooldays interferes with the educational mission of the schools, lowers pupil performance, particularly among low-achieving pupils, promotes cyberbullying, and contributes to an increase in teenage anxiety, depression, and suicide.

(b) In September 2018, France adopted a nationwide smartphone ban in all primary and middle schools in order to promote pupil achievement and healthy social development.

(c) The London School of Economics and Political Science published a May 2015 study that found that test scores improved significantly at schools that banned mobile phone use, and that the most significant gains in pupil performance were made by the most disadvantaged and underachieving pupils. The study concluded that “schools could significantly reduce the education achievement gap by prohibiting mobile phone use in schools.”

(d) Dr. Jean Twenge, who is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, published a book in 2017 entitled “iGen,” which presents evidence of an increase in depression and suicide among American teenagers that may be caused by increased mobile device screen time and social media use. According to Dr. Twenge, 8th-grade pupils who spend 10 or more hours per week on social media are 56 percent more likely to describe themselves as unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Moreover, teenagers who spend three hours per day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to demonstrate risk factors for suicide, such as suicidal ideation, and teenagers who spend five or more hours per day on their devices are 71 percent more likely to demonstrate a risk factor for suicide.”

8901.7.

(a) The governing body of a school district, a county office of education, or a charter school may adopt a policy to limit or prohibit the use by its pupils of smartphones while the pupils are at a school site or while the pupils are under the supervision and control of an employee or employees of that school district, county office of education, or charter school.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a pupil shall not be prohibited from possessing or using a smartphone under any of the following circumstances:

(1) In the case of an emergency, or in response to a perceived threat of danger.

(2) When a teacher or administrator of the school district, county office of education, or charter school grants permission to a pupil to possess or use a smartphone, subject to any reasonable limitation imposed by that teacher or administrator.

(3) When a licensed physician and surgeon determines that the possession or use of a smartphone is necessary for the health or well-being of the pupil.

(4) When the possession or use of a smartphone is required in a pupil’s individualized education program.” (Source: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB272)

(2) Existing law authorizes suspension to be imposed only when other means of correction, including, among other things, a conference between school personnel, the pupil’s parent or guardian, and the pupil, or participation in a restorative justice program, fail to bring about proper conductexcept as provided.

This bill would authorize certificated and classified employees … to refer pupils to school administrators for appropriate and timely in-school interventions or supports, from the specified list of other means of correction, for willful defiance, and would require school administrators … within 5 business days, to document the actions taken and to place that documentation in the pupil’s record, as specified. The bill would also require the school administrator, by the end of the 5th business day, to inform the referring employee, verbally or in writing, what actions were taken and, if none, the rationale used for not providing any appropriate or timely in-school interventions or supports. By imposing additional duties on public school administrators, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.” (https://legiscan.com/CA/text/SB274/id/2832497)

How does Tier 2 Orange Safe Pouch® support school administrators?

The Tier 2 Safe Pouch, which is used for locking up students’ phones as a method to correct behavior, can be particularly beneficial for school administrators in the context of the legislative requirements outlined. Here are three benefits:

  • Streamline Behavior Management Process: The use of the Tier 2 Safe Pouch aligns with the legislative requirement for timely in-school interventions. By providing a straightforward and immediate consequence(phone lock-up), administrators can efficiently address minor infractions, like willful defiance, without immediately resorting to more severe measures such as parent conferences and suspension. This approach not only adheres to the law’s emphasis on other means of correction before suspension but also simplifies the administrative process.
  • Documentation Efficiency: The legislation requires school administrators to document the actions taken within 5 business days and inform the referring employee about these actions. Using the Tier 2 Safe Pouch as a standard intervention simplifies this documentation process. Since the intervention is consistent and easily recordable, administrators can quickly document its use and communicate the actions taken to the concerned staff, thus maintaining transparency and compliance with the legislative requirements.
  • Positive Behavioral Reinforcement: The law encourages interventions that can bring about proper conduct without resorting to harsher disciplinary measures. The use of the Tier 2 Safe Pouch can serve as a positive and impactful method to correct student behavior. By temporarily removing a common distraction (the mobile phone), students may be more inclined to engage in the classroom and reflect on their behavior, leading to improved conduct. This approach is less alienating than suspensions and can better support a positive school environment, which is beneficial for both students and administrators.

How Multi-Tiered Safe Pouch Teach SEL Skills

The Multi-Tiered Safe Pouch, comprising the Tier 1 Blue Safe Pouch and Tier 2 Orange Safe Pouch, offers a structured approach to managing phone use in schools and can be a valuable tool in teaching students Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. Here are three key points explaining how:

  • Promoting Self-Management and Responsible Decision-Making:
    • Tier 1 (Blue Safe Pouch): By having students lock up their phones during school hours, this tier promotes self-management, an important SEL competency. Students learn to control their impulses to use their phones, focusing instead on educational activities and in-person interactions. This experience teaches them the value of being present and engaged in the learning environment, aiding in the development of attention and concentration skills.
    • Tier 2 (Orange Safe Pouch): The use of the Orange Safe Pouch for students who violate the phone policy reinforces responsible decision-making. The requirement to answer reflection questions after school as a condition to unlock their phones encourages students to think critically about their actions and their consequences. This process nurtures introspection, helping students understand the impact of their choices and fostering a sense of responsibility.
  • Enhancing Social Awareness and Relationship Skills:
    • The phone-free environment, particularly through the Tier 1 Blue Safe Pouch, enhances social interaction among students. Without the distraction of phones, students are more likely to engage in face-to-face conversations, collaborate in group activities, and develop empathy by noticing and responding to the emotions of others. These experiences are critical in building social awareness and improving relationship skills, both of which are central components of SEL.
  • Creating a Positive School Climate and Encouraging Behavioral Correction:
    • The Tier 2 Orange Safe Pouch approach to addressing minor infractions aligns with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) principles. By offering an immediate, consistent, yet non-punitive consequence (phone lock-up), it helps in maintaining a positive school environment. This method is less alienating than traditional disciplinary actions like suspension and supports the psychological safety of the students. By encouraging students to reflect on their behavior in a constructive manner, it aids in their emotional development and helps them learn from their mistakes, rather than feeling marginalized or misunderstood.

In summary, the Multi-Tiered Safe Pouch system not only manages phone use in schools but also serves as a practical tool in teaching and reinforcing Social Emotional Learning skills. By promoting responsible decision-making, enhancing social interaction, and fostering a positive and reflective approach to behavioral correction, it contributes significantly to the holistic development of students.

John Nguyen
John Nguyen
Articles: 103

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