Civil rights advocates have been calling for body cameras for law enforcement officers for years.
The ACLU Washington states, “Those who call for body cameras view the technology as a tool to better monitor officer conduct. Some advocates hope that the cameras will reduce misconduct and increase police accountability.” The ACLU also argues, We’re living in a moment of new possibility for police reform.” Government Technology Magazine quoted Liz Randol, legislative director for ACLU in Pennsylvania, as saying, “Accountability and transparency are hard to come by if the public doesn’t have access to (that information).”
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) the official website of the United States government Department of Justice, states that, “In 2015, at least 37 states and the District of Columbia considered body camera legislation, while 20 of those states and the District enacted new laws.” It has been estimated that approximately 58% of police forces would be fully operational in the use of body cameras by the end of 2018 which are the most recent statistics provided by the BJA.
Most reasonable people agree that body cameras on police officers have provided not only transparency and accountability for the actions of law enforcement officers, but also have delivered digital evidence in the event of a confrontation with a citizen. Any honest and decent law enforcement officer should not be afraid to wear a body camera as it could totally exonerate their behavior given the circumstances. Conversely the body camera could condemn an overly aggressive or violent police officer based on the evidence presented. When one is a public servant paid for by taxpayer funding, the standard of behavior is set at a very high level and any actions committed by that public servant are subject to scrutiny. It goes with the territory.
Like law enforcement officers, teachers are also public servants who need to be held accountable to taxpayers. It has become abundantly clear that our educational institutions (just like police forces) need radical reform. The need for this reform has become more and more apparent during the pandemic when parents were able to listen in on Zoom calls. Many parents were shocked at the anti-American, anti-Christian, and in some cases inappropriate, graphic literature that was assigned to students and discussed in the classroom. Cameras in the classroom might have prevented some of this unethical psychological indoctrination.
Just as civil rights activists have advocated for victims of police brutality, if they were honest and ethical, these same activists would be fighting for the protection of children against politically activist teachers and the undue psychological damage and coercion some inflict on their students. Cameras in the classroom could monitor conduct and provide necessary accountability that cannot happen without some form recorded documentation. Teachers do not have the right of free speech in their classrooms to spout their own anti-religious political beliefs or immoral lifestyle choices. Teachers are accountable for what they say and do in their classroom and parents and the community deserve nothing less than complete transparency.
When children are in school for six hours a day what accountability measures do parents have for what is going on except for what their child comes home and tells them? There is an inherent power differential in the testimony of a child against an adult. In some cases, conservative children often fear retribution in both grades and treatment if they cross a teacher, so they often do not get their parents involved.
Classroom cameras could provide transparency and an ability for stakeholders to monitor teacher interactions with children. Honest and good teachers should not fear cameras just as honest and good police officers do not. On the flip side, teachers could use the cameras to exonerate themselves in case of a conflict with a parent over a disrespectful or disruptive student. Even some doggie day care facilities post live feeds so owners are free to view the treatment of their dog at any given minute. Aren’t our children as important as a pet and why can’t this practice be utilized in K-12 education?
Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire has addressed some legitimate concerns regarding the student privacy issues surrounding cameras in the classroom. Some of his fixes include: providing live feed passwords to limit access, focusing the camera video only on the front of the classroom, using blurring technology to obscure facial recognition, or (like police departments do) releasing the video only if there is a controversy. Walsh also argues that there should not be any interactions in a classroom that cannot be filmed. We agree. Make the teaching profession noble again – cameras in the classroom can help to do this.