Teachers all over the state of Texas are abuzz this month after the state Senate approved cameras in self-contained classrooms… So why are Texas teachers being watched?
I myself was taken aback when I first learned of it. I thought about where else people have cameras at work. There are cameras at convenience stores, in taxi cabs, in retail shops, and in a ton of other places… but all of those cameras are there to protect the employee from possible criminal harm. This camera-in-the-classroom
bill law suggests, however, that the staff are criminals and students need protection from us. Here Texas teachers are being watched.
Needless to say, I find that offensive to no end as do several of my colleagues. At first blush, I heard a lot of great teachers say they would have to find another job sooner rather than later. It was not that they felt jeopardized because their violent behaviors would be found out- not a one would ever hurt a child. What they bristled against was this thought of someone watching their every move as if they were a criminal.
I know of no other similar profession (with a comparable pay) where a professional is watched in the manner this bill suggests.
It is already impossible for school districts to keep fully staffed with good teachers. The pay, the grueling hours, multitude of roles a teacher plays, the planning, money out of pocket to be successful, and… well the list goes on and on. Good teachers, and there are lots of them, are hard enough to keep in the classroom. The problem with our system is that bad teachers are hard to keep out. Maybe the way the legislature should have spent its valuable time creating laws on things they know nothing about is by actually focusing a larger problem- it is so hard to get rid of bad teachers. Moreover, bad teachers are sometimes placed in LIFE Skills classrooms because people think they do less damage to fewer students and won’t destroy their school’s test scores.
Now please do NOT read this and think all LIFE Skills teachers are bad teachers. This simply isn’t true. You will never find a more patient, caring, and giving bunch. At the same time, most LIFE Skills teachers are not implicitly taught how to teach students with severe and profound disabilities prior to walking in to the classroom. Alternative certification doesn’t give teachers the depth of knowledge needed to work with LID students and even education majors may not have the know-how to be successful in such a challenging setting.
Millions of dollars will be spent by school districts (who are budget challenged enough already) to install these cameras- money the district could have used implementing in-depth teacher training, better support and coaching systems, more adapted classroom materials, a second conference to handle the ever growing mounds of paperwork, a larger stipends for LIFE Skills staff to reflect just how much harder their job is, or, better yet, a push to have building administration better trained on what a real LIFE Skills classroom is supposed to look like and what students in those classrooms can really achieve.
So many things could have been more effective than cameras in the classroom monitoring, second-guessing, and implying blame to a group of people that come to work every day and do what few others would dare try- educate the most challenging students in the most meaningful way.
Sen. Eddie Lucio (D) has filed SB 507, a bill requiring school districts to equip self-contained classrooms serving students in special education programs with surveillance cameras. The Senate approved the bill on May 11 by a vote of 24 to 7, with Sens. Brandon Creighton (R), Bob Hall (R), Don Huffines (R), Jane Nelson (R), Robert Nichols (R), Charles Perry (R), and Charles Schwertner (R) voting against the measure.
Please remember the Senators who voted AGAINST this preposterous bill when election time comes around by SUPPORTING them- voting matters.