Like many states, Iowa is debating legislation that would give parents unprecedented access to what is happening in the classroom. We’ve written about the problems with many of these bills, like requiring teachers to post a year’s worth of lessons in advance. But the Iowa law takes things a step further by allowing parents access to a live video feed in every classroom. Cameras in the classroom are not a new concept, and the debate around them isn’t new either. There are legitimate reasons why cameras can be a good idea. They can prevent he said/she said situations, for example, and also provide teachers with the opportunity to review their own instruction. But cameras can also be used to manipulate and intimidate teachers and students. And providing live video access of every moment in the classroom opens up an entire slew of privacy issues, too.
Now, one Iowa teacher is going viral for her response to the proposed bill.
In words shared by Christine Bettis, Susan Vernon writes: “You have a right to know what teachers are teaching and, by the way, you can already access that. But do you really think you have a right to know whether your neighbor’s child struggles with reading? You will see that. Do you really think you have a right to know if your neighbor’s child needed extra help in math today? You will see that.”
Vernon goes on to detail more of her concerns with having cameras in the classroom, including parents knowing which students come to school in clean clothes and which had an accident at school. “They have outlawed facts. They have outlawed literature. Please don’t them outlaw your children’s privacy,” she says.
As teachers, we don’t want to shut parents out
In fact, one of our primary goals is to set up strong relationships with families where we can share progress and setbacks all year long. It’s not that we object to parents knowing what is happening in our classrooms. It’s the invasion of privacy and lack of trust that a live video feed would create.
As Vernon points out, “I am proud of the work that I do. If you want to see the 20+ hours of work I do at home each week to prepare for the work I do at school, I’ll show you that too. But you don’t have the right to watch other people’s children learning.”