Though no one has done a comprehensive survey on the topic, anecdotal evidence suggests many K-12 classrooms still don’t have telephones. Yet surveys of teachers and school administrators find they believe numerous benefits could be realized by the simple installation of phones in every classroom.

The Texas Center for Educational Technology found that teachers and administrators believe phones would:

• Improve parent-teacher communications;

• Facilitate school-wide and district-wide communications;

• Provide another way to discipline students;

• Raise teachers’ efficiency; and

• Relegate aging, low-quality intercom systems to occasional use.

Teachers interviewed said telephones would reduce their feeling of isolation during the school day, especially during disciplinary or emergency situations. For example, a teacher could call a school’s security official and request the removal of an unruly student, rather than having to leave the classroom to get help. In emergency situations, teachers would have a fast means of calling for help.

Telephones also would make teachers more efficient during the school day, Texas researchers found. For example, teachers could call parents from their classrooms during breaks in the school day, rather than having to wait in line for an available phone line in a teachers’ lounge.

Costs of phone systems are not prohibitive, and discounted rates for connections can be negotiated with most local phone companies. One option that schools wiring for classroom phone service might want to consider is installing T-1 lines, which would enable a teacher to use a phone and a computer simultaneously.

abstracted from “The 4-1-1 on Telephones in the Classroom
School Planning & Management, October 2001, page 51