Washington County school officials have temporarily halted a classroom evaluation process involving video cameras following complaints by teachers and parents. As Press staff writer Nathan Baker reported in Tuesday’s paper, county schools received 16 cameras funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Assistant Director of Schools Bill Flanary told Baker the cameras — one focused on the teacher during the lesson and another trained on the students to gauge their reactions — were to be used in a pilot program to test their effectiveness for evaluating teachers under the new Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model, or TEAM, program.
The problem, teachers and parents say, is that they were not told of the evaluation cameras beforehand. They are also concerned with the security of the images of the students, which would be stored on a third-party server in Utah.
“The largest apprehension was: Once these are on the cameras, how are they going to use them?” Washington County Education Association President Leisa Lusk told the Press on Monday. “There’s a privacy issue with the students and their parents giving permission for them to be used anywhere but in the classroom.”
Parents are also concerned with the privacy aspect of the evaluation cameras.
“I’m not happy about it at all,” said Tony Padgett, a parent of a Washington County student. “We have to sign a release every year for our kids’ images to be put into a yearbook, but nobody asked if they can videotape my child?”
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