School districts could adopt policies that lead to installing cameras in classrooms and requiring teachers in the classrooms to wear microphones, under a House proposal filed this week.
Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, filed the measure (HB 1055) for consideration during the 2022 legislative session, which will start Jan. 11. Cameras would have to be located at the front of classrooms and would have to be capable of recording audio and video of all areas of the rooms, under the bill. Bathrooms or areas in the classroom where students may change their clothes would be exempt from recording, but not the areas immediately adjacent to bathrooms.
The call for cameras in classrooms isn’t new, although the debate first started several years ago in colleges and universities, to protect teachers from various accusations, rather than public schools. A Tennessee school district in 2014 piloted a project where video footage was used In July, Tucker Carlson, the right-wing polemicist on the Fox network, called for the installation of cameras in classrooms–to monitor whether teachers are teaching “critical race theory.” He also called for a “civilian review board in every town in America to oversee the people teaching your children.” Civilian review boards are usually appointed to oversee police conduct and investigate police brutality.
The Florida bill doesn’t allude to teachers’ curriculums or oversight, and specifies that the surveillance is not to be used to judge what and how teachers teach.
The bill makes no provision for financing the system. It only requires local school boards to vote on whether to implement such a plan–thus giving local boards the ultimate authority to install or not install cameras–and to come up with a financing plan by Jan. 1. (Surveillance systems can be expensive.) By making it a local issue, the law, if it passes, would almost certainly create a new wedge issue for local boards as proponents and opponents of the proposal would square off at school board workshops and meetings–already the stage of recurring and bitter theatrics–ahead of any such plan.
“If there is an interruption in the operation of the video camera for any reason, an explanation must be submitted in writing to the school principal and the district school board to explain the reason for and duration of the interruption,” the bill states. (Law enforcement officers generally don’t have to provide a detailed explanation or justification as to why their body camera may not have been turned on during an incident.”)
School districts would be required to notify students and parents, as well as school employees assigned to classrooms, before installing cameras. The manner in which they are informed is not set out. The bill calls for schools to retain copies of video recordings for at least three months (leaving open the possibility for much longer retention), or until an ongoing investigation is completed, if past the three-month limit. Video footage may not be used to evaluate teachers or for “any purpose other than for ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of students in the classroom.” But those broad terms are left undefined, again opening the door to the use of video footage in undefined circumstances.
If cameras captured a classroom “incident” that leads to the abuse or neglect of a student, parents of students involved in the incident or employees involved in incidents could request to see footage, and that footage must be made available within seven days. School employees investigating alleged incidents, law-enforcement officers and Department of Children and Families employees also would be given access to the recordings, which otherwise would be in the custody only of the school principal. DCF would have access to the footage as part of its child neglect or child abuse investigations. But the bill does not specify if that includes ongoing investigations of child abuse or neglect away from the classroom–where the overwhelming majority of that abuse takes place.
When footage is released, students not involved in the incident must have their faces blurred and their privacy protected.
The proposal would require school boards to vote on whether to implement plans to install cameras by January 2023.
To date, surveillance cameras are routinely installed in hallways, cafeterias, parking lots and the perimeter of schools, but not inside classrooms, where both student privacy and teacher autonomy have so far prevailed, although the year of covid, when most teachers conducted classes by Zoom, breached that autonomy. A 2015 study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that “The results provided no evidence that visible security measures had consistent beneficial effects on adolescents’ academic outcomes; some security utilization patterns had modest detrimental effects on adolescents’ academic outcomes, particularly the heavy surveillance patterns observed in a small subset of high schools serving predominantly low socioeconomic students.” A 2018 study in the Cambridge Journal of Education signals trust issues as a consequence of using cameras in classrooms.
Great idea!! Accountability is important not just the students but for teachers as well!!
Deborah Coffey says
These Florida Republicans will not stop until they completely control every single American life and every thought…until every life, every action and every thought meets their beliefs and their standards (which apparently include harming and/or killing others, even our own children, with a deadly virus). That is fascism so, let’s just go ahead and rename our state Florussia. Or, we can MAKE them stop by voting straight Democratic tickets.
The Republican “leaders” voters sent to Tallahassee have been so radicalized that their next move will be to secede from the United States of America.
Wow, “secede from the United States of America” that actually sounds like a good idea. Self-determination would be refreshing.
Tony Mack says
Another attempt to “keep an eye on teachers” by the same people who hate the government intruding on their lives. By the way, notice that so-called “charter schools” are not included in the proposed legislation. Charter schools are the new darlings of those who want to eliminate the public school system because they make a profit and are generally unregulated. Another slippery slope to authoritarianism.
“Charter schools” are the present day incarnation of our old all white “Christian Academy” system of the 50s and 60s, albeit with greater access to the public teat, thanks to right-wing legislatures like the one in Tallahassee.
Roscoe P Coletrain says
For sure Jim Bob but doesnt the AME Church sponsor one of them there charter skools too? Wow times have really changed down here when now we got nice African Methodists teaching all white Christian academys!
Deirdre Rutledge says
Well I guess Tucker is our new big brother and Janet is our new big sister. God forbid they not agree with what’s going on in a classroom, I can’t wait to see how things could be taken out of context.
How do they expect teachers to continue in a career under this kind of scrutiny? Maybe everyone who wants to pass this law should have a camera in their house so teachers and students could pass judgment on them.
The bill hasn’t yet been heard even in committee, local school boards haven’t discussed the proposal.
Ray W. says
When I started out as a prosecutor in 1986 in Sarasota County, I quickly became aware that a former prosecutor had been overheard by his secretary while talking on his office phone; he was coordinating a drug deal. The office’s investigators had borrowed a telephone recording system from a local law enforcement agency and installed it only on his phone line. He was then arrested at a buy site after setting up another drug deal on his office phone. The recording equipment was then returned to the law enforcement agency. While serving his county jail sentence, the former prosecutor was made a trustee and allowed to leave the county jail to do the gardening and mow the lawn at the State Attorney’s Sarasota office, which was a renovated motel that was in use while a new courthouse was being constructed across the street. As an aside, the interim office abutted a walkway from the main drag to the Sarasota Spring Training site in use at that time by the Cincinatti Reds. On a pleasant March afternoon, all the prosecutors and supporting staff working in the office could hear the crowd roar over each exciting play.
In 1993, when I was assigned to lead one of the Volusia offices of the SAO, on my first day at the office my investigator asked me to follow him to a closet door, which he unlocked to show me recording equipment that he stated had the capacity to eavesdrop on every phone line in the office. My investigator then asked me what I wanted him to do with the equipment. I told him to take it all out and move it to the Daytona office. I also told him that if any evidence arose that would support the return of the equipment, he was not to tell me about it. Instead, the investigation would be directed out of the Daytona office. One, I didn’t want to be a witness against a co-worker and, two, I didn’t want anyone to know the equipment had ever been in place or ever would be in place, without some sort of reasonable suspicion that a crime could possibly be in process. To my knowledge, the recording equipment was never returned to that office during my time there.
For all I know, the recording equipment had been in place in that office during the Boyles administration. For all I know, each of the six offices in the four counties that comprise the Seventh Circuit had similar equipment hooked up to eavesdrop on every phone line. The only thing I know was that it was in place in that locked closet in that office during the last phase of the Tanner administration and that it had not yet been removed by anyone in the Alexander administration, though Mr. Alexander had taken office that day, just as I had sworn the prosecutor’s oath that day, too.
No, we do not need to record every word spoken by any classroom teacher without some sort of founded suspicion that policy and procedure is being violated any more than we need to record every telephone call, either by landline or cellphone, made by Governor DeSantis, although the idea of our legislature passing a law requiring our governor to wear a microphone at all times of the day has a certain political appeal, if only for prurient reasons arising when he is talking either to our former president or to large-money donors.
Your delusional everyone is under surveillance at work, your computer is tracked, and all activity are monitored, what makes teachers and more special to not being monitored while under the taxpayer’s employment.
Very expensive and very big brother is watching you. I can’t see how this would make education more effective. The cost of trying to retrofit schools so everything is covered by video and sound EEK! the current camera systems are not very reliable as is who would make sure everything is working correctly and who is going to monitor the cameras.
We know the real intent of this bill. I’d encourage all teachers to promptly resign the day it’s passed and let the parents educate their own children.
We’ll see if our legislature will then allow Big Brother to set up cameras in homes, and make sure the parents are only teaching what the state legislature deems appropriate.
Old Guy says
Another “solution” in search of a problem.
Other sectors have cameras and they have to hold up to what they do while employed! If teachers have nothing to hide they should welcome a camera in their classroom for their safety and the safety of the students. Cameras film everything a kid does on school property. So why not in the classroom? Police have body cams, nurses have a badge that tracks their every move, cameras in every store, license plate readers and Social Sentinel reading all school kids Social media. Don’t see why teachers have a problem with this! They get paid with taxpayer money. We as taxpayers should get to know we are paying for the education these students get. Teachers are not above the law, as cops have to wear cameras!!
Easier said than done, all teachers quit. We will c Fla
on the news as to why Fls. teachers quit teaching. Why not put the cameras in every Gov. Building Nation wide to see hear what they talk about and see what they do. I believe that proposal will fade very fast. Teachers have a hard time as it is now this suggestion.
Florida teacher says
I will retire should this bill come to fruition. Big Brother is alive and well in Florida but will pass this on to local school boards so the heat stays off the Florida Legislature.
I offer a different suggestion, put cameras in the bathrooms of all elected officials, based on recent performance the all probably have multiple STD’s that have eaten away what little brains the started with.
Politics aside here, parents are concerned about children who have paid the price of this pandemic and now the standard of education. It’s been a rough couple of years. That said, my guess is that this is going to be too expensive.
When your anger level is sky high, that translates to the children, as does the fear of this pandemic. Maybe if we just go back to putting our kids first and curbing our anger, things will get better?
I hope so, anyway.
Great it’s about time we see what our so-called teachers are doing to our kids, accountability is good. Hopefully we can reverse the liberal tide of indoctrination our children. Let’s see if they continue to teach CRT and hatred of the country in our schools.
If you want see what they are doing, volunteer for the rest of the school year. Three days a week, all day. Your comments suggest you have no clue as to what happens at school. BTW CRT is not taught in schools, it is claimed to be taught by people who want your submission.
Not sure a parent sitting in the classroom is practical. I would believe the teacher would feel pressured to perform vs actual performance by the teacher!
Its what they do behind closed doors that matters.
Correct, the teacher would act normal during the times that they would be monitored. With a camera they would be monitored 24/7 which would allow the community see what is really happening.
Land of no turn signals says says
No need to,damn kids record everything at the slightest outbreak and post it to social media.
David Narigon says
And Florida wonders why they can’t fill teacher vacancies??
@There’s a “Florida voter” born every minute
“…Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, filed the measure…”
Question: What in hell is a Rep. Bob Rommel?
Bob Rommel was born in Red Bank, New Jersey. As of January 2020, he lived in Naples, Florida. His career experience includes working as a restaurant owner…”
See also (not one word about rommel’s own education — in his official biography):
City of Residence: Naples
Occupation: Restaurant Owner
Spouse: Sandra of Buffalo, New York
Born: November 30, 1962, Red Bank , NJ
Religious Affiliation: Christian
Recreational Interest: entertaining family and friends, fishing, golf, reading
Another typical specimen of elected Republican — manufactured by the usual suspects:
See Campaign finance (and please, notice “Top Donors” and “Top Payees”)
And so it goes.
“Civilization is a race between disaster and education.”
― H.G. Wells
Ray W. says
Wow! Does Beachlover actually present an argument that a greater amount of self-determination would actually occur should one or more states secede from the union? Did that happen the last time several of the states actually seceded from the union? Ask any Civil War historian. Ask the Hungarians of 1956. Ask the Czech peoples of 1968. Ask today’s Ukrainians, Syrians, Libyans, or the Lebanese people. Ask the Kurdish peoples of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Ask those who live in Taiwan or Hong Kong. Ask the Armenians, the Chechens, the Georgians. Does Beachlover live in a fantasy world in which the union would not react to any form of secession by any state, either by legislation or insurrection?
History shows the eventual passage of laws by the Confederate congress and its various state congresses requiring the drafting of troops to fill out an ever-larger number of state militias that were then assigned to the several Confederate armies, which draft laws caused great dissent among many of the people, particularly when the draft terms were extended over and over again and eventually decreed to be open-ended terms of enlistment.
Like many FlaglerLive commenters, Beachlovers’ fantasy world is bigger than the world enabled by our experiment in a liberal democratic Constitutional republic. Whoever holds political power in a disunited America will likely do whatever is necessary to preserve that political power. For example, if Florida’s legislature were ever to vote to secede from the union, and were Governor DeSantis ever to sign the legislation into law, what would happen if the people overwhelmingly voted in the next election to reunite with the union? Does Beachlover actually think that Florida’s legislature and/or Governor DeSantis would accept the outcome of such a vote or even allow such a vote? If such a vote were allowed to occur, would such a legislature be more likely to vote to reject the results of the citizens’ voice as expressed in that election before the legislators’ terms of office expired? If Beachlover supports secession, as he implies, would he also support overturning the will of the voters as expressed in an ensuing election? Would his support to overturn such a vote be defined as an act of self-determination?
Most likely, a legislative vote for secession would lead to mandatory military service by Florida’s sons and daughters. Limits on civil and individual rights. Intrusions into areas once considered private. While I supported my youngest son’s decision to honorably serve his country, I would not support Florida legislation drafting him back to service in a state militia for an indeterminate period of time. Based on historical examples, Beachlover presents as delusional on this point.
I think this would be a wonderful idea. As though of you who read this on a regular basis, my nonverbal autic grandson was abused at Belle Terre Elementary School a few years back. Verbally and mentally abused for quite a while, even locked in a closet in the dark. If camereas and mics were available at the time I truly belive this would not have happened.