Wyoming lawmakers have proposed installing video cameras in public schools and taping classes to help evaluate teacher performance, but some educators say the Big Brother-esque practice would violate the privacy of teachers and students alike. Other opponents say principals could more effectively monitor teachers by making unannounced visits to classrooms. Will videotaping teachers improve their skills, or merely unnerve them?
What a gross invasion of privacy: In "our surveillance society," this proposal doesn't exactly come as a shock, says James M. Burton at Informed on Information, but that doesn't excuse it. "How long until those cameras are used to harass staff" or kids, as happened not long ago when a Pennsylvania school district put webcams in students' laptops, then snapped pictures of them at home. This is an Orwellian nightmare in the making.
"Video cameras proposed for Wyoming classrooms to film teachers for 'evaluation' purposes"
Video cameras can be a useful tool: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is already experimenting with video cameras for teacher evaluations, says Michael Petrilli in Education Next. They tend to fade into the background, so they're a good alternative to surprise inspections, which tend to change the way people in the classroom behave. In fact, we could go a step farther and use cameras for regular monitoring — "think about the possibilities for curbing school violence or guarding against child abuse."
"Lights, camera, action!"
This is overkill: We have to draw the line somewhere, says Liz Bowie in the Baltimore Sun. If cameras in the classroom are okay, what's next — "live-streamed lessons that parents can check online"? Teachers need some scrutiny, but videotaping lessons will make it harder for great teachers to "close the door and have a relaxed, human interaction with their students."
"Cameras in all classrooms? In Wyoming, maybe"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- Alien conspiracy theorists think the government is on the verge of spilling big secrets
- The super-rich are just as miserable as the rest of us
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- Why insects are the future of food
Subscribe to the Week