Friday, June 25, 2004

George Orwell's Big Brother is here and is sitting next to our children....

When I first heard of another city's decision to place cameras in the schools' classrooms, I was shocked and sickened. What an invasion of my privacy - George Orwell's Big Brother is finally here and is sitting next to our children!

But, after several minutes of more rational reflection, I began to change my mind. I am a public school teacher. I thought about the times I had been spat on. I thought about the times I had been cursed to. I thought about the times I had been punched. I thought about the time I was body-slammed into a wall. I thought about all the violent fights that happen in the school daily. I thought about the students who smear feces on the bathroom walls. I hate to admit it, but I would welcome cameras in our school district.

A 12th-grade student at another school was found hanging in an auditorium by 9th-graders. The student was just two credits shy of his diploma. The authorities immediately thought his death was a suicide, however, another teacher told me that the autopsy revealed that his legs were broken, indicating that he may have been murdered. Would school cameras have saved his life?

Why should I expect privacy? I teach in a PUBLIC school, surrounded by 1000 students and 100 staff members. There is nothing private about it. The only place where I should expect privacy in this very public place is in the staff restroom. I am not naïve enough to believe that cameras in the classroom would stop school violence, however, I would be hopeful that it might deter it. If nothing else, we would have a record of who committed the violence.