Leading Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake voiced support for putting cameras in schools in order to allow parents to monitor what educators are teaching their children, and Gov. Doug Ducey responded by criticizing the idea.
Ducey said during a press conference that it could lead to “predators” monitoring children, the Arizona Capitol Times reported. “We’ve got young kids in these classrooms,” he said. “We want to protect them from predators, of course.”
However, Lake said during a talk with the Conservative Republican Club of Kingman that the cameras would film the teachers, not the students. And the video would not be livestreamed. Regardless, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects children from outside parties obtaining personal information about them, so it is unlikely that strangers could obtain videos of students.
The Republican challenger told The Arizona Sun Times, “Spineless RINO Politicians love cameras until we suggest using them for curriculum accountability. In fact it was Doug Ducey who introduced cameras in the classroom when he shut our schools down and locked our children in their homes — it’s called Zoom/Online learning. My opponents lined their pockets by covering ASU Campus with cameras and filling the valley with traffic ‘gotcha’ cameras that snap photos of us and send us tickets in the mail.”
Lake went on, “They want to convince you that cameras will be on for any Tom, Dick & Harry to log in and watch classes — that’s preposterous and they know it. The proposals we have seen offer the ability for parents to gain access to their child’s lecture, should they find out that Anti-Americanism, Marxism or any perverted curriculum is being pushed.”
Several states have passed laws allowing or requiring cameras in specific classrooms, including Texas, West Virginia, and Georgia. Leading conservatives such as Tucker Carlson and Rep. Bob Good (R-VA-05) support them.
Teachers unions tend to oppose them since they believe they would lead to “nuisance lawsuits” by conservative organizations that don’t want children learning subjects such as Critical Race Theory (CRT). Glenn Sacks, a teacher who represents the union United Teachers Los Angeles, told the Washington Examiner, “Well-funded conservative groups that oppose teachers’ unions and public education will scour the recordings looking for teachers’ words they can take out of context and highlight as wrongs.”
However, school districts around the world have reported success. A high school in Sydney, Australia found that bullying by teachers dropped 70% after CCTV cameras were introduced. It’s commonplace in the UK, where 85% of schools utilize them.
They’re actually quite common in the U.S. already. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 80 percent of public schools in the U.S. use them, although the survey does not indicate whether the cameras are located in classrooms or other parts of schools. Most school buses in Arizona have them to monitor kids.
A mother in Wake County, North Carolina is now a strong advocate for cameras in schools after an incident happened with her daughter, who has autism. Months after enrolling her daughter in a preschool with Wake County Schools, she was informed that a teacher was suspended and later resigned for allegedly placing a weighted blanket over her four-year-old’s face in an attempt to get her to go to sleep. Since the girl is autistic and nonverbal, she did not tell her mother about the incident.
“It was a terrible, terrible call to have to know that your child was being abused in some way. And you weren’t there, you didn’t know about it. And you can’t, you can’t fix it for her. And so it was really, it was very rough,” Lyndsay Emmons told WTVD. There is a North Carolina Facebook group advocating for cameras in classrooms with special needs children, to “help protect our most vulnerable children from abuse.”
Lake organized a rally calling for the president of the Scottsdale Unified School District Board to resign over compiling a dossier on parents who objected to CRT, COVID-19 restrictions, and other issues. She said that surveillance “should be going the other way.” He was voted out of the position, although he still remains on the school board.
Lake told The Sun Times, “When The Government keeps tabs on us, that’s tyranny. When we keep tabs on the Government (taxpayer-funded schools) that’s transparency. Big Brother doesn’t want us knowing what is being taught to our children. What are they trying to hide?”
Interest in placing cameras in classrooms has increased recently due to parents finding out their children were being taught these things but were not kept informed or asked for their consent. Parents became outraged during the 2021 gubernatorial race in Virginia over a bill Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe vetoed previously when he was governor. It would have required all public schools to notify parents if their child was assigned ‘instructional material’ with sexually explicit content, given parents the ability to review the material, and provide an alternative assignment to any student whose parent requested one.
During a debate with his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin, who went on to win the race, McAuliffe defended his veto, “Yeah, I stopped the bill that I don’t think that parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” His response angered parents so much they put up campaign signs that looked official stating, “Keep Parents Out Of Classrooms. Vote McAuliffe. Keep Virginia Blue.”
Two of Lake’s Republican gubernatorial opponents, Matt Salmon and Karrin Taylor Robson, oppose cameras in classrooms. Lake told The Sun Times regarding them and others, “I am not at all surprised that the entirety of the Arizona Political Establishment has teamed up against parental rights in education.” Referring to Salmon, she added, “The CCP-Lobbyist I am running against is only interested in cameras that he can make money off of. Maybe if we found a way to make profit off of protecting our children he would be interested.”
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Kari Lake” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.