Student snitches

In Lubbock, Texas, students can make money by snitching on classmates. Deanna Kemper, the mother of a seventh grader, complained that her son had been turned in by a snitch for bringing a cell phone to school. School administrators told her “cell phones were banned for being linked to drug-related activities.” Kemper said she was told a cell phone or Game Boy could be traded for drugs.

Superintendent Pat Henderson came up with another rationale.

(Henderson) defended using the program to catch cell phone violators. A cell phone could inadvertently set off an explosive device, which makes the phones dangerous in the event of a bomb threat, he said.

I wonder how many cell phone-controlled bombs have been placed in Lubbock schools in the last 100 years. I’m guessing zero.

Henderson said the cell phone snitch got $5 for turning in a classmate.

About Joanne


  1. Mike in Texas says:

    I’m not so sure giving out rewards for snitching out a kid for bringing a cell phone is such a good idea, but Joanne seems to think banning cell phones is a dumb idea.

    I will tell Joanne what I tell all parents who complain about what is seemingly a stupid rule. One kid bringing a cell phone to school isn’t going to hurt anything that day, BUT if you let one kid bring it you have to let ALL kids bring them. Then how much learning is going to go on with kids cell phones going off left and right?

  2. Mad Scientist says:

    Not to mention the possibilities for cheating through the use of Text Messaging or camera phones.

    The problem really comes down to nobody has a sense of manners anymore. Phones are not put in silent mode, people think a call is more important than disrupting a large group (think movie theater or concert or play).

    There is no rational reason for a student to have a phone in school. And anyone who spouts the canard of safety really ought to ask how many incidents of violence were thwarted by a cell phone. By that logic, we should just arm the little darlings as a deterrent to violence.

  3. Jim Thomason says:

    Those are perfectly rational reasons to ban cell phones. So why is the school having to come up with such idiotic ones?

    Could it be that they’re idiots?

  4. Actually, there are some perfectly rational reasons for banning cell phone _use_ during class, but there is no valid reason for banning possession of a cell phone for use before school, during lunch, breaks or after school. I wanted my kids to have their phones on them in case of emergencies when they were in elementary/secondary school and/or so that I could get ahold of them if necessary. In this case, I’d be one of those parents sueing the school district for endangering my child by not allowing him/her access to the outside world.


  5. Tim from Texas says:

    The cell phone is a menace in schools and practically everywhere. They are misused, abused, and overused. Where’s my mommy? Where’s my big darling, my medium size darling, my little darling? What are they doing? Where’s my boyfriend, where’s my girlfriend? Oh, I miss them so. I’ve not talked to them for at least 15 minutes now. What can I tell them? What can I ask them? What did I forget to tell them? Oh, I just can’t wait any longer.

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Off in the class, sure. The rest of the time, negatory. I wonder what this district does about cursing the teacher? Often harsh discipline is reserved for those least likely to react violently.

  7. Mark Draughn says:

    While I almost agree with Mad Scientist that “no rational reason for a student to have a phone in school,” there’s plenty of good reasons to have a cell phone on the way to and from school, and students should be entitled to have them.

    As for cell phones going off in class, that’s a matter of discipline. If students can learn to sit down and shut up, they can learn to shut off their phones.

  8. Tim from Texas says:

    Please. What are the reasons a student needs a cell phone in the classroom or any time between the beginning and end of school? I can possibly understand before and after, but it’s a stretch.

    At any rate, management of a class room of students is difficult enough w/o cell phones. They are just too irresitible for far too many students.

  9. mike from oregon says:

    Just one problem, Mark – you would be amazed at how many of them CAN’T seem to learn to sit down and shut up. Now extend that to the damn cell phones. Discipline is now a fragment from the past, public schools just keep them from killing each other and that’s about all.

  10. Tim from Texas says:

    As to paying anyone to snitch about anything is very dangerous territory. Anyone with any sense has to disagree with that approach. Maybe it’s just too flat there or maybe a strange wind blew through. It’s hard to fathom.

  11. If they don’t learn to sit down and shut up, it’s because the administration is not backing the teachers up in punishing them for misbehavior. Too busy making up new offenses like having a cell phone to punish the actual disruptors, I guess…

  12. Tim: How are they to have phones before and after school, in transit, and then not have them in school at any point? Even if they have to put them in lockers, they still need to have them “in the school” to do it.

    Their misuse (ie, use in classrooms) should be punished, not their possession.

    (I wonder if the school prohibits students bringing money to school? After all, money is even easier to exchange for drugs than a cellular phone.)

  13. Big Brother requiring good citizens to “drop a dime” on their fellow citizens….. sounds like good training for living in a totalitarian world…

    Actually, something very similar happened to my son when he was in fifth grade:

    He was playing with his gameboy during lunch (this is permitted) He was sitting by himself and “died” he uttered the phrase “poo poo head!”
    Another child was walking by and went to the teacher’s aid. the “snitch was given an ‘free dessert’ pass by the aid and my son was sent to the Office.
    Well, the Asst. Principal called me and asked me what I was going to do about my son, that she would not tolerate such language (and had never experienced it before)
    (After I got up off the floor) I told her she was doing the wrong thing by rewarding children for snitching. Her response to me was to question my respect for authority (I’m a retired Air Force Officer), and suggest I was my son’s major problem..
    (after i got up off the floor….again) I called the principal who, although support his assit., was a bit more ‘reasonable’.
    I say “a bit”, because, he too supported their methods of information gathering.

    Well, at least she was “gone” the next year….But where???

  14. Well, yet again, another stupid idea rears it’s ugly head. I’m in favor of making high schools more like college, don’t take attendance, show up when you want to, and as long as you turn in all your homework, and can pass tests with a 75% or better, you get a pass.

  15. Since they have enough money for paid informants, I can only assume that this school district has no other financial issues.

  16. Tim from Texas says:

    In the lockers is fine, if it would work, but it won’t. I suppose when we have tv-phones those will be needed also. I still ask the question-what is the need.

  17. Don’t get me started on cell phones. I hate them. Why?

    1. They ring at funerals.

    2. People use them when they drive, then they swerve, slow down, drive erratically and/or crash.

    3. They ring at movie theaters, just before the good parts. Wile.E. Coyote, where is your anvil when I need it?

    4. They ring at back-to-school night. During the presentation. Right when I’m talking about how important it is to maintain a focused, distraction-free classroom environment.

    5. They ring in delivery rooms. I shared a room with a woman after my baby girl was delivered, and her cell phone went off several times an hour. It played “Old McDonald had a farm,” and I swear I wanted to oink oink here and cluck cluck there until the phone was a pile of barnyard scrap metal.


  18. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I agree with Bill, as long as anyone who disrupts the class is immediately and effectively corrected or removed.
    I want everyone I care for to be able to call for help anytime and anyplace. their safety is a primary concern. Those people who find our society too busy have the option of living off the circuit; I’ve been there and no thanks.

  19. great chorus of cell phone issues: misuse in each case. Cell phone do have valuable sides: safety, working families, but you have to trust your student on use and your teacher on rule-setting.

    paying snitches is a road to ruin on values. Talking about issues shouldn’t be.

    on the other hand, I have seen bounties work well among adults. My favorite tale was a conference speaker who started by placing a cell phone, a glass of water and a $100 bill on the podium. He opened with “I love cell phones!” Holding up his phone, he asked everyone in the audience to hold theirs up, too. Next, he held up the glass of water and announced “any phone which rings out loud would get dropped in the glass of water.” Next he held up the $100 bill “this is for the person who brings the ringing phone up.” All phones were switched off immediately. 😀

  20. TJ From Texas says:

    “I still ask the question-what is the need.” from Tim from Texas.

    I forced my kids to have a phone with them when they started driving to and from school. Lucky for one because she played chicken with a deer and lost, in the middle of no-where on the way to school. They didn’t allow cell phones in the school either. She had to leave it in the car, hope the Texas heat didn’t kill it or be stolen, or even caught with it in her car.

  21. But TJ,

    this kid was in seventh grade. If he’s driving himself to school we have a whole lot more to be concerned about than his cell phone.

    And, just like week, the first week of school, I had to fill out an “Emergency” form, telling the school what each of my children would do during any sort of an “Emergency” at the school. If the emergency is MY emergency (not at the school), I can’t make plans thru my child anyway. All changes must go through the front office. Do you really think they should let students each make their own individualized emergency plans each time an emergency comes up? How will the teachers/administration know which student is supposed to do what if they do not have this information ahead of time? And, how will they know this is the parent’s true desire unless they talk to the parent – multiply that by however many kids are in the emergency – and, of course, they would be having to deal with the emergent situation while they are trying to talk on 20 – 30 cell phones all at one time.

    I can understand having a cell phone in the car, but not at school.

  22. Tim from Texas says:

    In the car is fine. For the reason of a break-down, wreck, mishap and so on is understandable. What is the need for it in the school itself?

  23. Around here, they’re not supposed to even have them in the cars. We have flash floods in this city, as I suppose you do elsewhere, and sometimes people have to call for help when their cars are swept off the roads. Once the paper reported on a woman whose car was totally submerged, but she called for help and was rescued. I guess a city school student would have been supposed to have drowned.

    I remember when beeping watches came out. That was to have been the end of civilization as we know it.

    Why not just confiscate the phones that ring during class? That’s what a lot of schools do. Maybe we could actually raise a generation of people who have learned that under certain circumstances you turn the dang phone off.

  24. Tim from Texas says:

    Laura, what are you talking about? If she was able to call, the cell phone was in the car with her. It wasn’t lying on the side of the road in a dry spot,or on top of the car, or dangling from the antenna. As to the ringing, singing, or melody of cell phones all the student has to do is put it on quiet vibrating mode. I still havent’t read or heard an argument which substantiates the need for a cell phone during school hours. Besides that woman was driving in a heavy rain attempting to get through a low water crossing where the deep water was already to be seen, but she drove into it regardless. Which is stupid. The cell phone didn’t save her. She was just lucky.

  25. Cell phones are what I call a necessary evil; I have needed mine many times in “emergency” situations. The important question in this situation is, Should schools be paying snitches? I may sound paranoid, but I wouldn’t put it past a kid to plant something just to get $5. That will buy you a meal at McDonalds or get you into a matinee where I live.

    Funny cell phone story – When I took one of my Praxis tests (I ended up having to take five different ones), the proctor of the test went on for some time about turning off our cell phones. She even threatened to have us thrown out of the testing site if our phones rang. About ten minutes before the test session was supposed to end, Mozart began to play in the room. The proctor started looking around for the guilty party. People taking the test panicked, thinking they were out of time. Imagine her and our surprise when the offending cell phone was two feet from her…in her own purse. If I remember correctly, we got an apology. No one kicked her out of the testing site. 🙂

  26. Tim:

    (1) The woman who called was not a city school student. Or if she was, the paper didn’t report that. She well could have been since the flood happened at 3:00 PM on a weekday in September.

    (2) The cell phone didn’t save her. The rescue people did. Since her car was submerged, they could not have rescued her had she not called from her cell phone.

    (3) Of course kids don’t need a cell phone during school. What kind of alternate universe would you suggest they store them in from 8:00 to 3:00 so they can have them while traveling to and from school?

    (4) I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a flash flood situation. I have, several times, although I have not been swept off the road. There isn’t always any warning, hence the term “flash”. Therefore it isn’t always possible to avoid being in a dangerous situation, even for seasoned drivers. For inexperienced high schoolers, it’s even worse. (And before you suggest that inexperienced high schoolers shouldn’t drive, I’ll point out that the only way to become an experienced driver is to start driving.)

  27. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Why would anyone need a car? Just live close enough to the mill to get there before the whistle blows. Why does anyone need a golf club? Jusyt dig a hole and put the ball in it and all is correct.


  28. Tim from Texas says:


    I lived for 12 years in one of the most infamous flash flood areas in Texas, San Antonio/Bexar county area and its surrounding counties. This was from the age 13 to 25. At any rate, beginning at the age of 17 I worked for an auto parts co. delivering parts throughout San Antonio, and its surrounding areas all the way down and through, as we said then, the Three Rivers area,not to mention, the areas to the north, east and west. I did the delivering for five years through torrential sunshine, sleet, hail, and rain driving an El Camino. During these years I also took part 9 times in helping to rescue the people, for the most part, who had forgotten the power of water and had forgotten that cars float, or were in such a frantic hurry that they allowed themselves to forget and drove on into the water anyway. Now as to the “flash” in the term flash flood, when a person in hiser car or truck is hit by a true wall of water in a flash and that person was still able to find the cell-phone still functional while the car was being rapidly filled with water and most likely tumbling then it wasn’t the rescuers who saved her it was God, or if you want, lady luck, which could have happened,but not at all likely. Moreover, she couldn’t have been inside the submerged car while calling unless there was a divine intervention, which we then would have to classify the event as a true miracle. I argue she was in a place and situation where she would have been eventually rescued w/o the call. I don’t want to be perceived as callous or arrogant here, but I must say that in these types of situations and other potentially dangerous situations it’s common sense and patience that is needed and which saves the day, not a cell phone.

    I can’t argue against the desire, convenience, and even need for the student to have access to a cell phone to and from school. However, if a community deems it important enough then that alternative universe is easily created.

    Now if you or anyone else puts hiser teenager into a car without alot of experience, say 9 to 12 months of thousands of miles of driving with an experienced driver driving in all situations night and day have at it, but then please don’t write about your great concern about the safety and security of that teenager, and please don’t say you don’t have the time.

  29. “Moreover, she couldn’t have been inside the submerged car while calling unless there was a divine intervention….”

    Omniscient, aren’t we. You weren’t there but you know what happened.

  30. Tim from Texas says:

    Doesn’t submerged mean under. I don’t know of any phone that works under water or really wet or soaked for that matter. If there is one and she had it then she would have been working at getting out of the car before drowning instead of trying to make a call. She had to be on top of the slowly submerging car not inside or the water wasn’t rising at any pace that could be called rapid or risky while she sat inside and made the call. One doesn’t need omniscience to know that. She was just another one of those people that drove into the water out of impatience and haste like the ones that used to get rescued for free in Texas, but no more, people got tired of it and now those types must pay for the rescue.

  31. Ross (The heartless conservative) says:

    One more reason for kids not to use cell phones is that there is a body of research that suggests developing brains are changed by long-term exposure to the radiation of cell phones.

    Most of the research shows that phones are OK for adults, some rare forms of cancer might have a higher incidence but still negligible. But for kids, why risk it if you don’t have to?

  32. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Mark had it right way back at the beginning of the comments. Everyone talks about annoyances. ONE timely 911 call can be worth all the annoyances a school district full of children with call phones can cause in a decade. The disciplinary issue is kids using phones in class. Deal with that directly.

    To conservatives of course, obeying stupid laws is more important than saving lives.

  33. Andy Freeman says:

    This is another example of the zero tolerance lunacy that infects public schools. Zero tolerance is an admission that the folks in charge can’t make meaningful distinctions.

    In a sane world, such folks wouldn’t even be allowed to visit a school.

  34. I love that the fight against terrorism and drug smuggling is the only rationale the school officials can come up with to enforce common courtesy. I hope al Qaeda doesn’t draw penises on any more bathroom stalls, al Sadr’s militia quits TP-ing the trees, and those darn drug smugglers cease their retributive “swirlies” and de-pantsing of incoming Freshmen.

  35. Well, you’ve all lost (on purpose?) the thread: The discussion was not about cell phones, it was about an environment where students are encouraged and rewarded for snitching…..Hello…

  36. Every school district should have a policy and procedure governing the contact of parents/guardians in case of emergencies. A child should not be able to go into the bathroom, call mom or dad at work and say I’m sick I need to come home. And if there is an emergency where the entire school needs to be evacuated or something there should be order and decency in calling parents. Everyone should not be running around on various phones telling different stories and creating more confusion.