Pa. bill would give parents choice on school internet

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Is the internet an essential tool for learning, or should parents be able to decide if they want their kids online at school?

One lawmaker is pushing a plan to scale back on teaching with technology.

State Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) says he continues to hear from parents who are upset that their kids are accessing inappropriate information on the internet at school. His solution is to give parents the option to scrap their kids’ ability to connect in the classroom.

“What I want to do is put the parents or the guardians in charge,” said Diamond.

Diamond says all schools don’t have the resources to constantly be on top of every harmful site on the web.

“The internet is a wild west of information,” he said, “and we need to protect our children from accessing dangerous information and having dangerous contact.”

That’s why he crafted a bill that would give parents the power to opt out their kids from using the internet at school. Teachers would need to provide alternate forms of lessons.

“The younger millennials are using their phones and technology instead of investigating and thinking for themselves,” said Thomas Taylor, a parent.

But some parents say the proposal is going too far.

“I think age should be a consideration,” said one Lebanon Valley mallgoer. “I think it’s important that children have that knowledge.”

“I do think it would be a disadvantage for the parents who want to opt out because I think they’re going to be behind their peers, unfortunately,” said Jessica Nemeth, a mother.

Nemeth said she would appreciate having the choice, but that the option could set back students in the end.

“There’s tons of benefits when they graduate out of schools and they go into colleges. Everybody’s going to technology, so it’s great to start them young, get them acclimated,” said Nemeth.

The bill has been referred to the Education Committee.

“As schools are spending millions of dollars to put an iPad in every child’s hand, the complaints have become more frequent and more frequent, so I think it’s time that, before this gets totally out of hand, that we at least give the parent a choice,” Diamond said.

Diamond says he wants to hear from more stakeholders, so he is talking with the Education Committee chair about organizing a hearing on the bill.

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