Problem: Biased Teachers. Solution: Use Technology to Put Parents in the Classroom
You have likely heard (or at least heard about) the North Carolina school teacher who went ballistic on a student for daring to question the character of President Obama. The full, unedited recording is here:
The disturbing thing about this incident is that this teacher is not an anomaly – she is closer to the norm. In public schools across the country, the operative view held by teachers is uniformly liberal, extremely anti-capitalist, and virtually “in the tank” for Democrats. Of course they are – most public school teachers are members of government unions like the NEA, whose leaders direct almost all of their lobbying efforts (and enormous amounts of money) to the Democrat Party, both locally and nationally.
But the main reason that teachers are so blatant about pushing their own political views on their students is that there is no competition – they have a government monopoly on the public money that flows to education. Oh sure, you can take your child out of the public education system and put them into a private school, but you have to pay their tuition out of your own pocket, or consider home-schooling – not a viable option for the typical household where both parents work.
Even more outrageous is the fact that even after you’ve removed your child from the public school system, your tax money continues to go to support the institution that you no longer use. No wonder that teachers like the one in North Carolina have no concern about spouting their liberal propaganda – they have nothing to lose.
Oddly, when you ask the average parent for their opinion on public schools, most will express a general concern about the decline in the quality of education nationally, but in the same breath declare without reservation that THEIR school is just fine, thank you. Why? Simple. Few of these parents have ever seen or heard what actually goes on in their child’s classroom – they have no idea what kind of propaganda is being foisted on their kids.
With the proliferation of cell-phone cameras with full video and audio, videos such as the one above are finally coming to the attention of the public. As a result, some parents are beginning to wake up, at least a bit more than a few years ago. But that still leaves a majority of parents who continue to believe that their school is actually educating their kids, if they even think about it at all.
What is needed is real-time oversight of the classroom, not by yet another government bureaucracy, but by parents themselves. I think we can all agree that mothers and fathers have every right to know what goes on in their child’s classroom. But with the hectic lives of most parents today, few people have the ability to take off work to actually visit their kid’s school, and even if they could, it would only give them a once or twice a year snapshot.
Besides, with a parent peeking in on the class, the kind of incident that happened in North Carolina would likely have never occurred – knowing she was being watched, the teacher would have been on her best behavior. Which is exactly why what we really need is a simple, inexpensive way for any parent, at any time, to have the ability to “check in” to see what their child’s teacher is saying, from wherever they happen to be.
Thankfully, technology now makes such a system possible. The proliferation of smart phones, tablets, I-Pads, etc. has given us the ability to access all sorts of real-time systems. The only piece that needs to be put in place is a simple computer connected camera in the back of the classroom, that any parent can access via their personal device. Want to see (and hear) what your child is being told? Go to your school’s website, punch in your Personal Access Code and, voila! – your kid’s classroom is broadcasting live.
Of course, the public school administrators will object, claiming that such a setup would be “outrageously expensive” to create. But in reality the cost for such access is so minimal that it could easily be covered by a small fee that most interested parents would be happy to pay in order to access the system and keep track of their kids.
In fact, such systems already exist. Many security companies now offer them – you can be in another state, halfway across the country, and by simply punching up your smart phone security “app” you can see, and talk, live to someone who is at your front door. Parents (and grandparents) watch their kids at day care from their computers. Millions keep in contact with their out of state friends and relatives via live video.
Now, just imagine the behavior of your child’s teacher when he/she knows that at any moment, dozens of parents could be watching. And the best part of such a system is that it is absolutely non-partisan. Liberal and Conservative parents alike will have the same ability to be sure that their child is getting an actual education – not indoctrination in an ideology with which they may not agree.
Naturally, given the political bias of most public school teachers, the howls of protest will be deafening. They will claim an intrusion on their “academic freedom” or some other similar red herring. But a public school classroom is just that – public. Parents already have the right to know what their children are being taught – we are merely proposing using the latest technology to make it easier and more convenient for them to do so.
Unless and until we have real competition in education (i.e. vouchers and/or credits) all parents, and especially those who cannot afford to send their kids to a private school, should at least be able to see (and hear) what is going on in their children’s classrooms.
John Caile – Eden Prairie, MN