Several districts have recently deployed cameras in the classroom, as a part of a Bill and Melinda Gates foundation initiative, as have districts throughout the United Kingdom.
Understanding this would be a sensitive subject locally, I can’t help but wonder if having classroom cameras in a small number of schools locally as a test wouldn't be a bad idea?
I can think of numerous benefits:
1. 1 Security—we have several schools that have had multiple burglaries. Having cameras could help catch the perpetrators.
2. 2 Physical security—we have a number of schools where teachers have been assaulted by students. Cameras in the classroom could curtail this problem, and if not an aid in curtailing this horrible phenomenon, at a minimum it would greatly in the prosecution of the perpetrators-making teachers safer.
3. 3 We have been accused of meting out discipline in a disparate manner at some schools; classroom cameras could capture deviant behavior at issue and bolster the case for the discipline of students that violate the codes of conduct.
4. 4 Teaching practices could be observed remotely. The tape could be provided to the instructor with suggested improvements
5. 5 Productivity could be enhanced (fewer instances of texting, leaving the class unattended, talking on the cell phones, etc.)
Now, I’m certain such an idea would require bargaining, and this is something that would have to be discussed by the board. But seeing how effective the video-taping on busses has been in enhancing student safety and employee productivity-I can’t see how those same benefits (and then some) would not materialize for the classrooms as well.
Issues of concern would need to be addressed for the staff (e.g. the tapes would not be used for creating dossiers to catch the teachers in wrongdoing, the tapes would not be stored in perpetuity perhaps being re-recorded over every month, the tapes would not be distributed to outside entities, etc. etc.) .
Seeing the value of video evidence in other lines of work and in other locations, (police dash-cams and personnel cameras, department store surveillance cameras, street cameras in high-crime areas) I don’t see how this idea doesn’t at least merit some discussion. I’m going to bring this to the next board workshop.