Classroom Camera

KCKPS Classroom Camera Initiative Faces Criticism

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) – After suggesting installing cameras in classrooms to increase virtual learning, Kansas City Public Schools faced a lot of backlash on Tuesday night.

At the district’s school board meeting, a number of teachers voiced their opposition.

Following an emotional public comment period, some board members argued that this issue is so sensitive that a special meeting should be held to discuss it alone, without the three-minute time limit that typically governs board meetings.

The board decided to do that with a unanimous vote.

In some KCK schools, common areas and a few classrooms already have cameras. With a focus on remote learning, it is proposed to expand that to the entire district. The stated goal was to address unexpected student absences and a teacher shortage that led to some classrooms having long-term substitute teachers.

Many teachers claimed that the administration should have learned that kids don’t learn by staring at a screen from the remote learning that dominated the first year of COVID.

Classroom Camera

“We’ve tried that for a year and look what it did to our learners,” said teacher Carolyn Hummel. “They are less invested than ever before. They are unable to ask for assistance or engage in conversations with their peers. Our students shouldn’t have the option of switching back to virtual instruction.”

“We are tired of the constant swinging pendulum of experimental educational trends,” said teacher Shalesha Parson. “Let’s do better and concentrate on ways to boost teacher satisfaction and morale rather than creating toxic work environments.”

There is still concern about who is watching and when, even though the $6.7 million proposal’s cameras are not listed as surveillance or security cameras.

“Constant monitoring creates a culture of fear and paranoia,” posited Barbara Williams, an employee of KCKPS.

“We did not sign up to be actors putting on performance,” added Parson. “With our students, we hope to establish sincere relationships. Talk between teachers and students should be allowed in a secure environment.”

The local teachers’ union’s president, Dom Derosa, spoke about the negative effects using cameras in the classroom had on his students’ learning.

“They thought being on camera stifled their willingness to take chances with being wrong, or they felt they had to perform for the camera in ways that interfered with their learning process,” he explained.

Parents’ worries were also expressed by board member Rachel Russell.

“As a parent, my children and other high school students enter a school building and walk through metal detectors every day,” Russell said in the capacity of a parent. “When will our kids be able to play like kids again with cameras and all?”

The superintendent, Dr. Anna Stubblefield, claimed that the board had the final say but made a point of noting that kids always have cameras on their phones.

“Just to be clear, there are cameras in our classroom. Our students are taking notes. In the classroom, there are recording devices. And that’s just the reality of what we live with today,” said Stubblefield.

Initially, the federal government’s ESSER funds—which were made available to address the impact of COVID on schools—were supposed to be used to pay for the program.

The current plan is to organize a special meeting with no time limit that is more widely advertised in order to give more people a chance to publicly voice their opinions. Additionally, surveys will be distributed.

This has not yet been given a date. Parents will be notified by the district when the meeting is scheduled.

Source: KCTV 5

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