“Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”
— Betteridge’s law of headlines
Last Tuesday, Clark County School District Board Trustee Katie Williams had an idea she felt compelled to share with Twitter. It wasn’t the first time she felt this particular compulsion, of course — she briefly became Twitter’s main character last year after she bragged about visiting a Red Robin, of all places, at the beginning of the pandemic — but this utterance actually related to possible future school district policy:
As she and the rest of the school board responsible for governing the school district that educates somewhere north of 70 percent of Nevada’s students could, in theory, advocate for and direct funding towards putting cameras in every classroom, which parents could view at any time, this raises a few questions:
Why does she want to install cameras in classrooms? Is doing so even legal? If it’s legal, is it a good idea?
Won’t somebody please think of the children’s parents?
Cameras, and electronic surveillance more generally, have become an increasingly regular part of our public schools for the better part of a generation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 77.9 percent of primary schools, 91.5 percent of middle schools, and 93.6 percent of high schools had security cameras installed in them by the end of the 2018 school year. These percentages are much higher than they were 20 years ago — by comparison, fewer than 20 percent of schools used security cameras to monitor schools during the 1999-2000 school year. The increasing proliferation of cameras on school grounds has historically been justified on public safety grounds — the more cameras we install, after all, the fewer school shootings and other safety hazards our students will experience