The Chronicle @ Kettle Run
Cameras in the Classroom: Infringement of Privacy? Monday, April 04, 2011 By Ginny Barrett
Video cameras are not uncommon in the halls of schools and on buses, but some states have considered putting them into classrooms as well. The Wyoming State Senate recently struck down a bill that would require ongoing taping of teachers for their yearly evaluations. However the law sparked a lot of controversy. Some critics felt that videotaping teachers would be ineffective and that teacher’s should be observed face-to-face. Others feel that monitoring teacher’s constantly could be interference. “Teachers have certain ways of teaching and breathing down their necks is not going to help one little bit,” said senior Will Sharp. Senior Michael Parrish agrees. “I think teachers should be trusted to teach without cameras,” Parrish said. Guidance counselor Joyce Brown feels that the cameras should be used “only if there are valid concerns about the teacher” and that cameras should only be placed in the classrooms of teachers who agree to it. Some do see advantages to the new approach. Freshman Austin Ball thinks the cameras could be used to help teachers improve their methods. “Teachers could review their teaching and change it to make it better,” he said. “A possible advantage would be making sure teachers aren't goofing off. However, the disadvantages are both more numerous and further reaching,” Sharp said. Another problem with the law is the issue of privacy. “The bill would never have passed because parents will not want their kids being watched 24/7,” Ball said. “Students would feel violated every time they came to school. I would be terrified to be in a classroom with cameras in it,” said Parrish. “There is no way the law will pass, unless Wyoming wants to take away privacy rights,” he added. Students are also worried about the effects cameras would have on them. “In the event of a fight there would be a video. Students would get in trouble more often and for more,” said senior Brandon Lann. “With surveillance of classrooms comes tighter enforcement of classroom policy,” Sharp said. Brown feels one advantage of the cameras would be “impartial monitoring of student behavior. It can reduce conflicts and arguing. However, she sees disadvantages as well. Sharp raised another valid concern, that parents would eventually want access to the tapes monitoring the teachers. “A teacher’s methods affect a class more than the individual. If a parent of a child who is not doing well complains, then the whole class may be punished if that child’s teacher changes her methods,” he explained. “Teachers, not parents, are teaching our kids.” “Legislators don’t always have an education background and have very little idea of what is best for schools,” said Brown. Brown feels there would be more productive ways to spend money that would be spent on the cameras. While Wyoming did not pass this bill, it remains to be seen if other school districts will consider or even pass this initiative.