Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance Cameras in the individual classrooms are the answer to a great many problems today’s educators and school systems face today.

We have them in most schools for recording the main hallways & offices, cafeterias, and entry-ways. Most school buses are equipped with them. We just need more, and we need them in the individual classrooms.

INFORMATION:
Many child care facilities around the nation are making productive use of the available technology in relation to monitoring the classrooms and play areas at these schools. We need to move this tool into the elementary and secondary classrooms as well.

In case you don’t know about this, let me summarize what the day-care centers have that the school systems, public and private, need to obtain-

  1. Full-color video cameras are set up in the classroom
    The director(s) of the facility can access these cameras at any time from any location.
  2. The “feed” from the cameras is stored off-site, it is a digital media and is stored the way banks store your credit information, so employees/parents cannot tamper with the recordings.
  3. Parents can pay a fee at a cost potentially around 55 cents a day, to receive a user name and pass code that allows them access only to the areas their child occupies. The cost of this fee can be maintained by the day care or can be run through the surveillance company  depending on the set-up of the system. I prefer this latter path, and I will explain why further along.

It’s that simple.

We need a minimum of one camera in every classroom. I suggest 2.
Camera 1 pans the student desk area
Camera 2 follows the teacher and/or records the instructional area.

In this blog I will address the benefits of the camera on decreasing unwanted behaviors. Future blogs will address increasing productivity through camera use (link), rights of privacy for parents/teachers who prefer not to have the room recorded, and cost of this system.

Discipline:
In my previous discussion about School Safety and perceived lack of discipline in schools, information was given that despite a decrease in fighting and theft at school, most adults feel schools lack discipline.

Putting cameras in the classroom will have 2 immediate effects in relation to that statistic
1) Parents will be able to SEE for THEMSELVES that the schools are disciplined, orderly, and safe.
2) Discipline issues from minor classroom infractions like disrespect, horseplay, and off-task behavior to more violent acts of fighting, bullying, and gang-related crime will decrease as parents, teachers, and administrators are able to see first-hand on a daily basis the events taking place in the classrooms and hallways.

There are many articles that reference teachers ignoring bullying, fights, and other hostile interactions between students and between students and teachers. (Link) Having a camera in place will unequivocally record that incident for viewing by parents, teachers, principals, supervisors, police, etc. A teacher cannot physically monitor all student activity at every moment. It isn’t humanly possible to monitor what students in the back of the room are doing as you lean over another student’s shoulder to re-explain how to work a math equation or to rewrite a sentence for an essay. Teachers are typically expected to monitor hallway behavior between classes, standing at the door of the room and somehow simultaneously supervising the classroom behind them and the hallway in front. It is not humanly possible. A camera, however, can.

Inappropriate Conduct:
There are also increasing numbers of claims against teachers for sexual or inappropriate conduct with a minor. A camera would very nearly eliminate this- whether or not the claims are true or false. Having a camera in the classroom, constantly monitoring the room would ensure that no child was alone with a teacher to be placed in a compromising situation. The teacher loses the potential to trap or isolate a student in order to hurt the child, and the student loses the potential to falsely accuse a teacher. Both are real situations and while neither occurs frequently (despite media hype), they don’t have to occur at all. Both can be eliminated with a camera that is recording 100% of the time.

Teacher Bias:
Students frequently blame teachers for discipline issues, poor grades, missing work. While this is typical child-like behavior, it can be easily justified or refuted by a camera. Here’s the situation: The student gets in trouble at school, the teacher calls home or sends home a note, the student tells his guardian, “The teacher picks on me! It’s always just my fault! Other kids are doing it, but I’m the only one who gets in trouble!” This is a non-issue with a camera. There is no sense dragging either a child or a teacher in for a he said/she said conference. Have the conference, yes. Eliminate the “my child said…” vs. “the teacher’s version.” Just pull up the camera footage and play back several days of class time. Either the teacher is ignoring other off-task behavior and focusing in on one particular student or the teacher is not. It is that simple.  And I’m not trying to tell you teachers never pick on one child. I’m just telling you we can remove the uncertainty of the situation. We may can remove the situation entirely because an adult, knowing he or she is being monitored, is much less likely to take shortcuts or resort to that base-level behavior. The child, not so much, but that’s part of growing up.

Putting the cameras in more locations does create a “big brother is watching” atmosphere. Is that such a bad thing when we are dealing with watching over the safety and education of our children?

The impact of installing cameras to photograph drivers running red lights has been so effective in cities that use them, the number of accidents have decreased by 24%, in some cases to a level that

“… many of the cities that had installed the cameras as a safety tool have removed those tools because they were no longer profitable.” (link)

Is this a bad thing? NO. Neither will be decreasing undesired behavior in the classrooms and hallways of our schools.

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5 Responses to Surveillance Cameras

  1. KMS says:

    I would not want other parents seeing my child on video anytime they pleased. My child could potentially be on video for others who pay to see, if he was near other kids throughout the day. This scenario would mean I am trusting other parents with being responsible with their username/password….

    I have met quite a few parents who live their kids and would live to ‘see’ their kids via video feed; however, aren’t responsible enough to send a note in when their child needs to leave school early much less monitor usage of something like this….

  2. KMS says:

    I would not want other parents being able to see my child on video. To log in whenever and view my child even in passing. I cannot trust that other people will be responsible with their login information when they can’t even send their child to school in a simple dress code or with the daily supplies they need…. Another concern is getting those same irresponsible parents to understand why sharing their login info with family/friends could potentially be a very bad idea.

    • 80price says:

      I understand your concern. This is why I would always make the option of having classrooms without, or have the option of only focusing the camera on the part of the room where the teacher writes/displays notes and information.

      I do want to point out, however, that a person may sign-in at the school office and visit the classroom of his child and potentially view your child at any time. This is something many people could do repeatedly, all school year long. They could eat lunch next to your child, read books to your child, supervise arts and crafts with your child, walk down the hall with your child, etc. If your child attends a sporting event for the school, he may be photographed, video recorded, and at the very least seen by many, many strangers whether or not you are there.

      These video access programs are very sophisticated. The program can be set so as to allow only specific device access to the cameras. Just like when you log onto FaceBook and it wants to know what device you are using, requests your password, and then emails you saying an unknown/new device logged on to your FaceBook account. The program can refuse to allow access to any unregistered device. If you want to be able to view your child from your phone, your spouse’s phone, both of your work computers, your iPad, and one of your home computers, the permissions can be set in such a way that only x-amount of these can be used at a time, and that you must have register that device and receive an access code acknowledging the registration of the device. The school now has a specific record of who, when, from where, and for how long video was access using codes identified with a specific child and his guardians.

      Further, the school should minimize your camera availability to only include specific classes at specific times of the day. Perhaps the gym, library, lunchroom, hallways are not available to the parents through this program. The restrictions can be set in such a way as to only permit your viewing of Mr. Smith’s Algebra class from 1:25 to 2:30. This time frame is still available as an archive when your daughter gets home and becomes frustrated with solving quadratic equations and needs to play back the lesson and watch her teacher work the examples again.

      If you then hand your iPad to Uncle Steve and allow him to watch your child start a fight in social studies, there is at least a serious effort to secure the amount of viewers and places viewed.

      As a teacher, I love the idea of lessons being available to sick students, struggling students, and parents who always say I’m picking on their child. It would be nice for them to see that “picking on their child” only results from having to ask him to stop throwing pencils, tearing paper into bits, turning around backwards in his desk to stare directly at the student behind him for the sole purpose of being annoying, etc. There are many students whose parents deny any of those misbehaviors would ever even be conceived by their child, much less acted upon. The same for the child molestation charges. If the room was videoed, there is definitive evidence to the accusations.

      Personally, I think the benefits far outweigh any negatives, but if given the opportunity to design my own school, there would ALWAYS be the option of non-recorded classes.

      • KMS says:

        One person signing in and being documented as being in the school is way different than irresponsible people sharing a login and potentially opening any part of a classroom up to viewing by whomever.

        Plus, if many kids knew they were being videoed I think they’d be less likely to ask questions and/or be themselves.

        Yes, they can monitor/limit devices that are logging in; however, I can login to FB all over the place with no real consequences. This would make viewing by the non-technical parents difficult and cause more overhead…

        Having classes that have video and some that don’t could potentially be a scheduling nightmare.

        Why not have a video lesson available that is not recorded around students. Same lesson, no students….available online.

        I agree there’s good and bad to either scenario…

      • 80price says:

        I think the idea of random people seeing my child in a classroom doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers you. It bothers my husband more than it bothers me, though, so maybe I don’t have that same sense of danger.

        What is it you are afraid will happen if someone you don’t know sees your child sitting in a classroom? Maybe it’s the idea that some pervert has gotten his sister’s husband’s cousin’s log-in information and is watching my daughter in her 3rd grade classroom everyday, and he’s doing disgustingly perverted things while viewing her coloring and reading. Yes. That idea creeps me out. Immensely. On the flip side, it is just as likely that a pervert can park his car next to her school and watch my child at recess every day, and then he do his perverted whatever in his car. Either one of these is 1) just as likely as the other to occur 2) equally disturbing 3) not directly harming my child
        I know #3 just freaked you out because it sounds like I don’t think perverts can harm my child, or that it doesn’t bother me to picture them being disgusting while viewing my child. That is definitely NOT my train of thought. I DO NOT want these things to happen, but there is only so much security you can give a child. Most school yearbooks list first and last names with the child’s pictures and are just as easily accessible to said perverts through that same sister’s husband’s cousin. That same vile pervert can entertain himself with the yearbook in a similar manner. Approaching my child with his perverseness is an entirely different matter that I will one day address in a post regarding guns at school. I still think the benefits of a recorded class far outweigh the negatives.

        Video wise: my husband simply doesn’t want our children tracked by “the government.” The thing is, there are cameras on street corners, convenience stores, banks, restaurants, state parks, movie theaters, EVERYWHERE. In almost every school, video cameras monitor all but 3 areas: restrooms, lockers rooms, and classrooms. Guess where are the majority of children bullied and/or abused…

        As you pointed out, most schools do require some kind of background check or registration now before they will permit you to enter the school. Well, I’m good with that. You want an access code for the video? Excellent! Please submit to a background check. Otherwise, your child may view the classes in our library, if he or she needs to review a lecture. And you, the parent/guardian, may view any video with the help of a faculty member. If the 8-3 school time frame doesn’t suit you, please see my post on lengthening the school day (https://truetimed.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/4-day-school-week/) which would make faculty available for longer, more convenient, times.

        I think needing a school-provided access code that recognizes unique IP addresses is not beyond simplistic use. Non-technical people manage FB quite well. You access FB from various locations with your own password, though. When you receive an email saying “a new device logged into your account,” you aren’t troubled because you did it yourself. What if you received an email saying the same thing, but you HAD NOT done it? Now you can investigate. The security on accessing the videos can be as limited as you want to make it. Only allow a family 2-3 unique devices. Have it email the parent and the school when an unregistered device attempts to log-in. Only allow one device at a time to view the site (bunk1.com does that). Again, I think I just don’t have a fear over this one the way you seem to, and my husband as well.
        When my son walks from language arts class to the library then makes a short restroom break before walking into math, there is a camera on him in the hallways and in the library. Children are recorded on buses, in front of the schools, in the gym, at the field, on the playground. Everywhere except the restroom, locker room, and classroom. There are still constant fights on school buses, near riots in gymnasiums, bullying on playgrounds, and random acts of inappropriate behavior on the football field. And don’t even imagine that students display a much more reserved behavior for their hallway interaction due to the security cameras. I think your fear that a child might be intimidated by cameras and shy away from asking questions is limited to a fractionally small number of kids. As a former teacher, I have never known the presence of a camera to change a child’s behavior. I have seen girls moon the cars driving behind a school bus though they knew full-well they were being recorded. Even if they remembered they were being recorded, the effects would wear off quickly. Or maybe not. Maybe it would significantly improve the behavior of quite a few disruptive children.

        As far as teachers recording the lessons separately, I’m going to present a scenario:
        My 1st two years as a teacher, I taught
        –6th & 7th grade math
        –Spanish I
        –Spanish II
        –10th, 11th, & 12th grade English
        Beyond the intense amount of time it took to plan for all of that, if I then had to record myself reteaching 6 different lessons every.single.day I would simply just not do it. Lessons are nearly 1 hour long. That’s 6 extra hours every day. Perhaps it is a bit unusual to have taught 6 different courses, so I’ll replay the situation based on my final year of teaching. That last year I taught
        –7th grade on-level language arts
        –8th grade remedial language arts
        –8th grade on-level language arts
        That’s 3 hours of reteaching the same lessons, after having taught all day long. That alone is a 9 hour workday. That’s before grading papers, morning bus duty, and supervising detention hall.
        Or maybe I feel ambitious and I’m going to record all 15 hours ahead of time over the weekend. Sadly, though, some little angel pulled the fire alarm 3 times that week, and now my videos are all way off of what I actually accomplished doing. Guess it’s time for a do-over.
        Even if I had the luxury of teaching the same course all day long, each class ends up at different places or does slightly different things based on the make-up of the class, the student personalities, and abilities. The idea of reteaching a lesson in order to make it available for students adds an intense amount of workload on teachers.

        Accommodating parent requests for non-videoed classes would be a scheduling nightmare for a traditional public school. One day, when I’ve had more time to organize my thoughts in writing, I’ll post the “Audrey’s World” version of a school design. It virtually eliminates this issue. It also basically eliminates the “no prayer, no pledge, no Christmas, no birthday, no gun” issues too.

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