Recently, a reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) emailed moi about some disturbing new happenings going down at her school. When our fellow Super Colleague returned to work, she learned that her school would be putting surveillance cameras in every classroom, the hallways, and the parking lot. She was informed that not only would the school office be able to watch it, but that Central Office will be able to see it as well.
I know. Take a deep breath.
I'm totally on board with the parking lot thing. It gets dark crazy early in the winter and in general, I think parking lots are shady. We won't even get into my somewhat irrational fear of parking garages but, honestly? No good can come in those shadowy, creepy places.
I'm on the fence about cameras in the hallways. Some schools are bananas in between classes and maybe cameras would help with security and/or be Big Brothery enough to dissuade sticky fingers and nasty mouths.
But cameras in the classrooms?
My first thought? I have former Super Colleagues who have PUMPED on their preps in their locked classrooms (while simultaneously correcting papers or checking email because we are awesome with a capital Kick Some Ass). Who wants to see that? I take that question back. I don't what to know who wants to see that. But still. Pumping is an act that cannot be unseen.
My next thoughts? Holy crap, what are they thinking?? What is the purpose behind these cameras? Is this the ultimate in "accountability"? Has the Teacher Bashing gone so far that we now want to watch teachers every single move? Because we're all raging morons who hit kids, pick our noses and talk on our cell phones while all hell breaks loose as soon as no one is looking?
As if morale wasn't low enough in our profession, this teacher clearly feels violated and resentful of the presence of cameras in her classroom. She asks:
How is the district affording this when they have laid off a large number employees this summer?
Are the administrators going to have cameras in their offices and let us watch them pick their noses, too?
Is it 1984? I thought that was just a book scenario.
Do they really hate us this much???
It's that last one that really gets to me. How many other teachers are entering their school year thinking that their own administration hates them? What kind of culture are we creating for teachers as professionals??
And who is watching these cameras? Did this district hire an entirely different group of drones to sit in front of TV screens while simultaneously firing classroom teachers due to budgetary issues? Are we going to have cameras to watch the cameras to make sure those individuals are also held accountable? Are we going to have cameras in the homes of our students to make sure their parents feed them a reasonable breakfast, help with homework, read to their children, feed them a nutritious dinner and put them to bed at a decent hour?
Riddle me that, Batman.
I second Angela over at The Cornerstone when I say that my classroom was my sanctuary. It was my home away from home. It was (hopefully) my friends' home away from home. And that meant that sometimes we were sitting together in a circle discussing a behavioral issue instead of working on math, and sometimes we lost ourselves in the joy of a story and began science a little later than planned and sometimes we were just plain being silly in the way that only seven and eight year olds can. If these cameras are a mechanism for "increasing efficiency and accountability" and making sure that teachers stick to a rigid schedule in the name of covering more material and pushing pushing pushing, then today is a sad day.
Thoughts??? I know you have them...