I get it, I get it, step away from the computer screen and count to ten. Now before you start flaming me, based only on the title of this blog, please read it in its entirety. At first blush placing cameras in classrooms for students with special needs sounds like a wonderful idea. At second blush, my analytical mind takes over, and I keep coming up with more questions than answers. I understand the reasons for doing it:
- Safety of our most vulnerable children;
- An accurate log of events;
- To stop Teacher abuse that might be occurring; and
- To stop bullying by other students
These are great reasons and the very reason why the idea has caught on like wildfire. I have watched as Facebook pages covering the topic have grown at an unbelievable pace including, Mommy, I Wish I Could Tell You What They Did To Me In School Today and Camera’s in Special Needs Classrooms. By the way, I follow both of these pages and applaud their efforts but now I come to my problem.
Have you ever heard the saying, “The devil is in the details?” There are a lot of details that would need to be worked out and as far as I have seen, heard and researched no one has put together a plan. I don’t think a plan can even be put together until all of the following questions have been answered:
- Who will monitor the feed (Would you have ongoing monitoring or only have someone review the tapes after a complaint);
- Who will have access to the tapes (Administrators, Teachers, Parents) and under what circumstances;
- Will the tapes become part of your child’s educational records;
- How long will the tapes be kept;
- Will the camera include both audio and video;
- How do we handle the privacy rights of all the children in the classroom;
- Are the tapes admissible in administrative or civil lawsuits;
- How do we make sure the tapes do not end up on any social media under any circumstances (This means youtube, facebook, twitter and the rest) and what would the penalties be if they do. Hardworking Teachers deserve our respect and we need to be able to separate out a moment in time where a good Teacher got frustrated from real abuse. I know as a Parent there are moments I would like to get back and I’m glad no one was taping them. I have NEVER EVER, NOT EVEN ONCE HIT MY CHILD but I have gotten very frustrated and yelled when I should have had more patience; and
- Will the cameras only be in self-contained classrooms or any classroom with students with special needs? Almost every classroom in the United States has at least one child with an IEP and this would mean placing cameras in every classroom.
I would love to see someone pick up the gauntlet and put together a real “business plan”, for lack of a better word outlining their vision of how to appropriately place cameras in our nations classrooms. Until that happens I don’t think it will realistically happen. In the meantime if ANYONE out there in the blogosphere has thoughts on any of my questions listed above PLEASE comment below.