Saturday 5 February 2022

Iowa bill proposes video cameras in nearly every classroom. State teachers union calls measure 'completely outrageous and dangerous.'

 The Iowa State Education Association is dead set against a state bill proposing video cameras in nearly every K-12 classroom so that parents can keep an eye on what's happening with their children.

"The inappropriateness of belief that there should be continual videotaping in a classroom is something that should not even be considered," Mike Beranek, president of the ISEA told KCCI-TV reported.

Beranek put it more bluntly to NBC News, calling the bill “completely outrageous and dangerous.”

What are the details?

The bill, H.F. 2177, requires cameras in every public school classroom in the state, except for physical education and special education classes, the network said, adding that parents, guardians, and others could then view classroom livestreams.

Republican state Rep. Norlin Mommsen, who authored the bill, told KCCI he believes the measure "continues the parental involvement that has occurred due to COVID."

But NBC News said advocates for teachers are saying the underlying idea is to censor classrooms and intimidate educators who focus on subjects such as race and history.

Indeed, education groups and unions aren't thrilled.

"Some politicians around the country want to limit not only what history our kids can learn about and what books they can read, censor the truth of our history in some cases, and, now in Iowa, they want to install classroom cameras for live monitoring of teachers," Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association — the largest educators union in the U.S. — told NBC News.

Pringle added to the network that instead of forking over cash for "monitoring equipment," money should be spent on more teachers and programming and getting to smaller class sizes.

Who would pay?

KCCI said the bill indicates schools would pay for the cameras.

"Our funding is shrinking," Beranek told the station. "We're being asked to take more out of that instead of finding more to serve the students we have."

Mommsen, however, told KCCI that "we already have a system through COVID," adding that cameras on teachers' laptops could be set in the backs of classrooms so student privacy is protected.

But Beranek added to the station that "there are federal laws that this bill violates in terms of privacy and the work that our students do in our classrooms."

What if teachers don't comply?

If the bill passes and teachers don't comply, they could face fines, KCCI said. Those fines could be as much as 5% of weekly salary per infraction, NBC News said.

Iowa lawmaker pushes bill to require cameras in classrooms

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