Brian Richards | Cameras in the Classroom

Letters to the Editor
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Today we live in a world where there is almost no expectation of privacy. Beyond my home, I can’t think of anywhere where real privacy exists. At the store, the bank, government offices, even driving alone in your car, you are potentially subjected to someone taking video of you if you make an error. 

 So, why can’t we have cameras in the classroom? These places are public buildings paid for by taxpayers. Teachers are public servants who are also paid by taxpayers. And of course we send our children to these places so parents have a vested interest in knowing what is being taught. We have cameras in Congress and we can watch our leaders do whatever it is they do. We have cameras in court so we can see justice being meted out. They even have cameras where you board Fido so you can check to make sure he’s a happy dog. It makes no sense that we can’t see what our children, our most important treasure, are being taught or not taught in a place paid for by taxpayers by people being paid by taxpayers. 

 Now’s the part where I tell you why they hate the idea. The education cartel will be adamantly against this idea and it will be because of one of three reasons. The first reason is that they will claim it’s a privacy issue. That we, as parents and taxpayers, have no right to see how our children are being taught because of the expectation of privacy that is afforded each of us. That is a specious argument. There is no constitutional right to privacy and courts have repeatedly asserted that you have no right to expect privacy in public. In public you can take pictures or video of anything you want. The fact that we call schools “public” cements the argument that teachers should have no expectation of privacy.

The second reason is that it would highlight incompetence where it exists, which is an understandable reason to oppose this from their perspective. It is almost impossible to fire teachers today, which is a shame. I’ve had two kids spend their entire lives being educated here in Santa Clarita. In my experience I’ve come across excellent ones, good ones, and a couple of stinkers. Just like at any entity, I might add. But for some odd reason the good ones and excellent ones protect the stinkers. I would love to pay excellent teachers more money, but only if we can get rid of the poor ones, which we all know exist. Even teachers will admit this if they’re being honest. But instead we have this absurd system where they are treated the same based on seniority, not competence.

 The final and far more germane reason they don’t want cameras is because they don’t want us to see what’s being taught. Imagine the arrogance of paying for a building, paying their salaries, and trusting them with our children but not be able to see how well they’re teaching or what they’re teaching? If there is anything being taught that teachers don’t want parents to see, it shouldn’t be taught, right? As we drift farther from the core purpose of K-12 teaching, it’s becoming more and more obvious that they like the secrecy. But many parents don’t want children being taught interpretive history, just history! Many don’t want the standards reduced any further to fit some stylish social construct. 

Public education in this country is a joke and I say this admitting that it’s mostly excellent here in Santa Clarita. However, in vast swaths of this country it is an abject failure. We can start solving this issue by making educators accountable and by allowing transparency in how our children are taught. 

Isn’t accountability and transparency a good thing? Always? 

Brian Richards

Stevenson Ranch

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