When millions of American schoolchildren were suddenly subject to distance learning from home at the onset of the pandemic, millions of American parents suddenly found themselves able to listen in on their classes.
And some teachers didn’t like that, and some even made a point to ask parents not to listen into lessons — which raised many a red flag.
The mass distance and virtual learning experiment of the COVID-19 pandemic was a disaster in many ways, but if there was one small silver lining, it’s that concerns being raised about the content being taught in public schools and what teachers say to students when other adults have left the room became a mainstream concern.
Over the last year, school board meetings have become one of the primary real-life battlefields for the culture wars, as parents and school officials clash over curriculum content as well as controversial pandemic mitigation efforts.
In July, conservative commentator Matt Walsh proposed an idea: cameras in classrooms?
There should be a camera in every classroom and any parent should be able to access the footage whenever they want to find out exactly what teachers are doing and saying to their kids
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) July 7, 2021
The pandemic essentially fixed cameras on thousands of public school teachers and many parents did not like what they saw — homeschooling has since exploded in popularity, and there have got to be at least a small group of parents for whom this decision was a direct result of witnessing public school “classrooms” first-hand.
Walsh’s comments were met with heated criticism and accusations of creating a Big Brother state, but as posed to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson at the time, “Is there anything that could happen inside a public school classroom that you absolutely would not want on film?”
“And if you can think of something that could happen like that, it shouldn’t be happening in the classroom to begin with,” he explained.
There is a group of parents, however, who have long pushed for cameras in classrooms and their reasons appear to have little to do with critical race theory or inappropriate sexual education lessons.
The parents of special needs children.
North Carolina mother Lyndsay Emmons supports the idea after a horrifying incident in which a teacher placed a weighted blanket over her 4-year-old, nonverbal, autistic daughter’s head to try to get her to take a nap at school.
School administrators informed Emmons what had happened, but had they not done so, her daughter would have been unable to communicate the mistreatment.
“We need cameras. … Anywhere that a child does not have a voice should have a camera,” she recently told WTVD.
The Washington Examiner reported that the idea is trending; “A handful of states including Texas, West Virginia, and Georgia have passed laws allowing or requiring cameras in specific classrooms,” they note.
Louisiana also recently passed legislation that would allow cameras to be installed in any classroom with a special needs student should their parents request it.
“Parents don’t expect that to happen when they send their kids off to school, but unfortunately, it happens more than we would like to think,” parent Chris Roe, whose special needs son was abused at a school in Louisiana, recently testified before state lawmakers. “It’s traumatizing.”
The powerful and influential teachers’ unions, however, do not appear to approve.
“Cameras in every classroom will not only make it more difficult for teachers to create an enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere, it will also undo efforts to get our students to fully participate in the lesson,” high school teacher and United Teachers Los Angeles representative Glenn Sacks says of the idea.
Meanwhile, Walsh noted when speaking with Carlson in July, “Teachers as government employees, in their capacity as government employees working with kids, they shouldn’t get privacy or free speech.”
“Any more than I want a bank teller – If I’m making a deposit of a lot of cash, I don’t want them to turn the cameras off and go into a back room and say, ‘I need some privacy while I do this,’” he explained.
“I think… the real reason is that they don’t want us to know what goes on inside that building.”
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