“Seems to me that in all this accountability, [whereby] states are pushing to tie teacher pay/retention/etc. to student test scores, … teachers should have the right to video record students for school disciplinary use,” said Antonio. “If the teacher’s evaluation will be hampered by disruptive, disrespectful students impeding [the] ability to teach and the other students’ abilities to learn, then that needs to be acknowledged.”

“It is finally getting out that a large part of our ‘education problem’ is out-of-control students,” said S Meyers. “It is difficult to teach when students refuse to follow basic, decent, classroom rules and expectations and there are no consequences, no follow-up. This is by no means an isolated situation. Teachers are certainly cramped between a rock and a wall. This is due in large part to the anti-intellectual climate of this country. Learning and critical thinking have become suspect.”

Teachers need more support from school administrators

Based on responses to this story, it appears that many teachers feel administrators don’t have their backs or don’t give them the support they need to maintain control of their classroom and teach effectively.

“I was at a school where teachers were given poor performance ratings for classroom management if they wrote too many office referrals, even when they were justified,” said Ann Marie. “I think the politicians, including school board members and district administrators, should spend a few days in classrooms as substitute teachers [to see the other side].”

“First; this is NOT a normal classroom, but a workshop environment where horseplay can be dangerous for all students—and disrespect for or ignoring the rules can have serious consequences,” stated weedonald. “Second; the teacher’s intent was clear—he had forewarned the students that he would videotape them only when they misbehaved, as proof to the administration that such behavior was rampant and uncontrollable. Third; he did not attack anyone but WAS assaulted by a disruptive student who intended to try and violently take the camera from the teacher. That student did not ask politely to not be recorded. Fourth; he received NO support, opportunity to defend himself, or effort to understand the desperate situation that was ongoing in his classroom and that was putting students at risk every day. He was summarily condemned, found guilty, and sequestered by administration. …”

weedonald continued: “This entire tragi-comedy of errors is perfectly representative of the CYA and ‘us against them’ mentality administrators in many U.S. public schools foster and hide behind when they fear parental legal reprisals and ‘a bad image’ at [the] school board level.”

“I’ve been in a similar situation myself, teaching mathematics to 9th graders,” said richardholden. “Sending these students to the office became a joke, because they would come back smirking and would continue their disruptive behavior. The administration played it safe by simply noting the high failure rate of the students in the classroom and surmising it must be due to poor teaching. The office listing of how many times students were sent there only verified that the teacher was not managing the class properly. Needless to say, I quit teaching there, went on to get my doctorate, and now teach students who want to learn and who pay for their education. So what is the answer to improving public education? I would say (1) hire administrators with a backbone to support the teachers, (2) install cameras as policy in any classroom where disruptions are reported, and (3) forget ‘compulsory education’ for those intent on not learning–send them to shops to learn basic manual skills so they can learn that education is not a right, but a rare privilege found only in wealthier countries.”

“If the administration had taken action on his previous reports of behavioral issues in his classroom, he would never have had to video his students,” said arosi80299. “The administration needs to take responsibility for their lack of involvement, leading to poor instruction for ALL the students.”

Should cameras be standard classroom equipment?

Many readers suggested that surveillance cameras should be placed in classrooms as a way to hold everyone accountable, while others noted that in today’s culture of YouTube and cell-phone cameras, there is less of an expectation of privacy to begin with.