We’ve been concerned that there was no debate on whether to even have the cameras in the first place, a debate that was preempted by the purchase of the equipment without the school board’s knowledge and consent. We thought that should have been asked, even after the purchase. But no reaction has been forthcoming.
Perhaps it’s because observation cameras are ubiquitous in our society anyway. We’re constantly recorded on video on the streets — the Village of Catskill has had observation cameras on Main Street for over a decade — in stores, at events…we’re obviously used to it. Your iPhone traces your every movement. Maybe we even like it, given the spectacle of so many making fools of themselves on youtube and other social media. Sure, put me on television, I want to be famous, no matter for what. See me picking my nose? Scratching my private parts? Lighting that doob…oops…that’s entertainment…innocent until you offend.
But in the schools we should be learning the very real difference between commanding respect and demanding respect. Between respect and fear. So, with surveillance, we hope that the students will not engage in the bad behavior, bullying, vandalism, fighting and such because they will fear being caught, relying on spying on them to instill that fear. In effect, we’re trying to demand their respect. Instilling the trust that will command their respect is a far more difficult task, but one in which you’d like the schools to engage. ++