New Ohio Law to Limit Mobile Device Usage in Educational Settings

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation at a Dublin middle school on Wednesday, mandating school districts across the state to formulate written policies regarding cellphone usage on campus. While the state education department will create its own model policy for adoption by districts, the overarching directive is for schools to minimize cellphone use as much as possible, granting districts the autonomy to tailor their approach accordingly.

At the district level, several districts had already implemented cellphone policies prior to state intervention. For instance, Dublin City Schools had restricted cellphone usage in high school classrooms and subsequently eradicated them entirely from middle schools. Superintendent John Marschhausen noted a positive shift in student interaction and interpersonal skills, with a decline in disciplinary issues and bullying observed since the policy change.

The legislation retroactively endorses existing policies like those of Dublin, provided they align with the minimum standards outlined in the law. While the impact on academic outcomes like test scores remains to be seen, Marschhausen highlighted improvements in discipline and reduced social media distractions during school hours.

Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro commended the legislation but stressed the importance of involving teachers in the policy development process, given their frontline role in implementation.

During the signing ceremony at Karrer Middle School, Governor DeWine underscored the potential distraction posed by cellphones, emphasizing their ubiquitous presence among teenagers and the constant barrage of notifications. He echoed Marschhausen’s sentiments regarding the return of lively lunchrooms and cited studies indicating improved academic performance and reduced disciplinary issues with limited cellphone access in schools.

Referencing author Jonathan Haidt’s work, DeWine initiated a national conversation on cellphone restrictions in schools. The legislation swiftly passed through the state legislature, garnering unanimous support, and is slated to take effect in mid-August, coinciding with the start of the new school year.

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