Baraki, Caldeira, and Foolish Hysteria

(hey,kinda rhymes)

Back in November, Abigail Shrier, a journalist who achieved notoriety by pointing how much of the trans movement involves girls in their early teens,  revealed, with much fanfare, How Activist Teachers Recruit Kids: (Yes. A while back. I’ll explain the delay.)

Two California middle school teachers, Kelly Baraki and Lori Caldeira, of Spreckels Union School District, gave a presentation at an October union conference about their struggles and triumphs running a gay-straight alliance club. Based on the recordings, though, their primary focus appeared to be helping “trans” kids find themselves. Highlights of their claims:

  • They advised finding alternate club names (UBU instead of GSA) that didn’t alert parents to the club’s purpose.
  • They didn’t keep club meeting rosters to keep parents unaware of their child’s participation.
  • They were concerned about club attrition and their efforts to keep the kids motivated and attending the gender awareness clubs.
  • They described “stalking” kids’ online activity during the pandemic to identify students who expressed interest in exploring sexuality.
  • They discussed the best ways to “integrate” their gender preference instruction into their anti-bullying presentations so the students are less likely to mention it to their parents.
  • They mocked parents who complained about their kids being exposed to sex-ed. They crowed that with tenure,  the principal might “flinch” but couldn’t respond to parents’ concerns.
  • In every way they presented their club as a recruitment project, in which parents were to be ignored and subverted whenever possible.

Shrier, as is evidenced by the title of her piece, characterized their presentation as “insight…into the mindset and tactics of activist teachers themselves.”  She saw this presentation as education and instruction.

I read about this at the time and several things immediately seemed obvious, pointing to a real failure on Shrier’s part to do any reporting or analysis.

First, and this is fairly minor but it speaks to the hysteria: Shrier was reading way too much into “union conference”. She clearly sees it as indoctrination. It’s not. Most teachers are required to document seat time for recertification; all of them have to come up with educational credits to move along the pay scale. These union conferences serve as seat time for recertification and, for extra money, can be converted into credits. Plus, Palm Springs! Take the kids, sit by a pool. Nobody–but nobody–sitting in that conference was being educated, advised, or instructed.

Clearly, Shrier didn’t know enough to ask the right questions. Namely, who was paying? Were teachers listening to this swill on district time? Were Caldeira and Baraki getting paid by the district to present? I did some research on union conferences, and am reasonable satisfied that districts don’t pay for teachers to attend. Someone ought to make sure, though.

Regarding the content of the presentation, I was stunned. Tracking kids’ internet activity? Total control over morning announcements? Not keeping attendance at club meetings? Mocking angry parents and gloating that tenure protects them? Smugly talking about the principal “flinching” but being forced to back them?

Why would anyone believe all this?

Teachers can’t hold club meetings and keep them secret. Morning announcements aren’t the personal domain of a teacher. No teacher is stupid enough to think pissed off parents can’t change her existence, especially with a principal who is privately flinching at her behavior but feels forced to comply. Tracking a student’s internet activity…that was so weird I googled and found out about GoGuardian, which freaked me right out, as I teach for one of the 90% of schools who don’t use it. I think it’s only for Chromebooks? And in the classroom I could see it being useful. But either way, I don’t believe any teacher, even one with the worst intentions in the world, could “stalk” kids internet use without singling them out ahead of time or running reports after the fact. No teacher would brag about the first, and there had to be controls on the second, which meant they were lying.

So most of what Caldeira and Baraki were recorded as saying was utter bullshit and obviously, once the tapes came out, these two tearchers were toast. If their presentation was accurate, they’d be fired now that it was public. If they were lying, as seemed likely, they were going to be fired for embarrassing the district.

I commented to this effect on Shrier’s blog. And I was right.

The district, upon learning from Shrier about the recordings, instantly sent out a response, suspending the club, requiring principals to sign off on announcements, and denying some of the claims the teachers made. As I expected, the district emphasized that Baraka and Caldeira were using personal days and not speaking as school representatives. The two teachers were placed on administrative leave while a formal investigation (done by a lawfirm, not the district) took place.

In early July, the lawfirm released the results of a thorough investigation: 1600 documents reviewed, 21 witnesses. The text of the report is very specific on a key point: Baraki and Caldeira made “harmful and disruptive comments” during the presentation that “were not reliable evidence of their actual conduct.”

That is, they lied.

Baraki and Caldeira never put any gender-related comments in the announcements. They didn’t mislead kids during their lessons. While they generated 30 reports of student activity between 2015 and 2019 (which doesn’t strike me as a lot, but I can’t be sure), but all of them had some other purpose. They did notice a student clicking on a link, but never followed up with that student. The only two kids they invited to the club meetings had first approached their teachers about joining.

Baraki and Caldeira resigned and were not fired. They almost certainly would have been, although it might have taken a couple years. But no administrator or district official would forget the shit those two caused by, let’s not forget, lying.

The details were reported sympathetically by the SF Chronicle which talks of the teachers being cleared but glossing over the fact that they lied. Oddly–or maybe not so oddly–Shrier wrote five stories on this in six weeks last winter but hasn’t mentioned this update in three weeks.

Brief aside: this has to be bad news for Jessica Konnen, mother of a former Caldeira student who went through a phase of believing herself transgender while attending the middle school. Konnen was notified by Caldeira and the principal, where the two made it clear that they’d known about this for a long time. After hearing the tapes, she was convinced that Caldeira had unduly influenced her daughter and got lawyer Harmeet Dhillon taking her case against Caldeira and the district, which was filed in June. The recordings were a key part of the evidence and now a law firm investigation has shown the teachers were lying.

What Shrier et al. see as an appalling example of business as usual in our public schools is, in fact, exaggerated or rule-breaking behavior the teachers are bragging about in order to impress their audience.

Of course, that’s still bad.  Baraki and Caldeira are bragging to make themselves look good The dreary reality, in their minds,  is that school procedures prevent them from finding all the potentially confused kids to straighten out. They don’t have the control they claim to have over morning announcements, student clubs. But they want to project a voice of authority to impress their audience–an audience, they presume, who is excited as they are at finding transgender kids who need their help. You want evidence of a polarized country? There you go. Many people support helping kids find their identities, as they think of it. 

But they aren’t the cause! Yes, Baraki and Caldeira want to “find” (convert, to Shrier et al) more transgender students. Yes, they want to run over the rights of concerned parents. Yes, they want to “educate” (indoctrinate) kids by making their club seem exciting, by normalizing gender issues in school, by growing their club. And yes, the union staff setting up the conference see those goals as admirable. All of these are, in my view, horrible objectives and reflect a terrifying mindset.

Except they can’t achieve their goals. School and district policies prevented it. Parents were leery and districts heeded parents. In fact, when the district learned that Baraki bragged about controlling announcements and not keeping a roster, it instantly created policies forbidding that control–policies that normally wouldn’t be needed, because if Baraki had indeed been sliding in propaganda, someone would have noticed. Doesn’t matter. Avoid the risk, mandate signoff. Mandate attendance lists (something common in high school, anyway).

So if the teachers like Baraki and Caldeira have to lie to pretend to have any power, they certainly aren’t the ones preventing parents from being told their kid is transgender. Who’s doing that? 

State and federal governments, that’s who.

I’m in this weird situation where I get reviled by progressives for being a hateful anti-trans bigot and yelled at by conservatives for being a pedophile groomer. I think  “gender dysphoria” is at best a phase and at worst a mental illness.  I am comfortable with finding adults finding whatever gender solution works for them. I am against younger kids taking medical steps. Use of proper pronouns is polite, but should not be required or forced at risk of social and economic obliteration. Any discussion of gender with young kids is wildly inappropriate, whether it’s a doctor, teacher, librarian, or drag queen raising the subject.  Kids should not be actively taught about sexuality….ever, as far as I’m concerned. Let them figure it out for themselves. All of this is enough to get me reviled by progressives.

But the people, whatever their ideology, who are appalled by this radical ideology and the insistence on demands and requirements that seem to violate the laws of reality seem to have no idea of what’s causing it and the wrong idea on who to blame. Once again they focus on unions, teachers, ed schools. 

Smug parents bragging that they homeschool are fooling themselves. Pediatricians think screening kids for gender is a great idea. If it’s not already a state requirement, just wait. Their churches probably won’t comply but why are so many corporations are coming up with DEI initiatives? 

The institutional capture people need to worry about is not teachers and ed schools but state policy makers and legal overreach. If you want to know why schools take a particular action, don’t look to unions but policy, laws, and accreditation–not just of K-12 schools but also colleges, universities, and every organization you can think of.  If states don’t play along, the feds can just devise some sort of mandate to qualify for funds.

This article is too long already, but in researching this story, I found a very troubling expansion that may illustrate the real perpetrator. From the most recent Chronicle article on Baraki and Caldeira:

The California Department of Education says that school staff should not disclose information about students’ gender identity without student permission under AB1266, which protects transgender students’ rights and went into law in 2014.

The first link goes to the CDoE policy which is a full page of things California schools must do to support transgender students because of AB1266–including restrictions against telling parents. The second is a link to AB1266 which says that California Education Code 221.5 shall be modified. It’s not specific about the modifications, which necessitates a look back to 221.5 as it existed in 2010 to learn that 221.5 had five clauses, a-e, and AB1266 added one more:

(f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

That’s it. 

Well. That’s enough. That’s the wording, undoubtedly enacted in many states, enabling males to compete as females and the bathroom confusion. But there’s no mention of parents. 

So the CDoE is attributing a near total mandate forbidding schools from notifying parents (with a few weasel words for cover) and using as its rationale legislation changes that don’t mention parents at all. 

Now, go back to the CADoE FAQ and it’s clear that all the legal text added in that section is rationale. Someone took this opportunity to interpret privacy laws and create a whole slew of school mandates that were not in the original legislation. You have to wonder if that’s what Tom Ammiano, the legislative sponsor, had in mind. An attempt to recall the legislation failed. 

By the way, this change to California law happened back in 2014. Long before anyone was paying attention. 

Think it’s only California and those wacky progressives? Trump SecEd Betsy DeVos resisted his order to change policy on transgender students and bathrooms. GOP bastion South Dakota legislators passed a law to force transgender students to use the bathroom matching their biology in 2016, but the governor, a Republican, vetoed it. Even today, Governor Noem was willing to kiss any shot at the presidency goodbye by vetoing a ban on transgender athletes.  I see plenty of GOP opinion folks mocking Rachel Levine; far fewer mocking Dierdre McCloskey.

Understand what forces compelled Noem to veto that law despite the overwhelming support in her state and why DeVos resisted ending transgender access to bathrooms. Accept that people who pushed this started things in motion long before most people were paying attention. Remember  that schools, the institutions most subjected to these pressures, still care about parents and political pressure. Push them hard and they’ll close gaps. Ensure minimum compliance with laws and don’t allow overreach.

Untangling this craziness while still allowing self-determination will be a long process and the other side on this has a head start. But there’s an obvious state law that should be made immediately, one that reporters making their bones on transgender outrage should immediately support:

Mandate  schools to immediately notify parents should their child express a gender identity different from his or her biological one. Specifically: student confides as transgender to school employee, school employee notifies administrator, form letter goes out to parent. If the school’s opinion is the child would be endangered by parental notification, school notifies child protective services who takes it from there. Schools are not allowed to keep this information from parents.

This is a no-brainer. And quite apart from the logical reasons to support this change, there’s one additional positive side effect:  ending or at least wildly curtailing the clubs and activities that seem to encourage student gender confusion. It is perversely easier to force teachers to hide secrets from parents than it is dealing with really pissed off parents blaming the school’s UBU club for their suddenly transgender kid. 




About educationrealist

9 responses to “Baraki, Caldeira, and Foolish Hysteria

  • Astynomia

    You know it’s been awhile since I commented, but I think I can offer the obvious insight here on how to police this as I am in fact a law enforcement officer and have to deal with this stuff on a daily basis myself.

    Mandate all teachers must wear and record all interactions with students and when performing any job related activities whatsoever. Give the parents of any child in the district they are employed in, (or the state, or just make it all public information, choose your level of openness, but I assume since it involves minors only parents would be allowed to access the material) the right to watch recordings of any school personnel.

    Then you don’t have to worry about them hiding anything. No one does. No secret agendas are possible. As a cop I already have to do this, and frankly with a freedom of information request in my state, (which is cheap or free and easy to fill out) I don’t think it’s burdensome at all. Frankly, it’s been a relief as it has been wonderful at keeping bullies out of the field, but usually shows we are doing exactly what we should be. In cases where it reveals bad behavior it’s great because we can get rid of those people.

    I am convinced that this is the future for all of us anyway, and I think it’s a credit to our system of government that we insisted that cops get forced to wear them first. School teachers, daycare providers, and university professors are next. The medical field soon after. But really in the end, it’s a good thing.

    You can easily see what it’s like, just go to the axon website and see what they’ve got. If you think they look intrusive, electronic devices get smaller quickly and your audience will quickly get used to them. We all screw up, that will be recorded too, but you just have to learn to live with it. This is the future, better get on board!

    • educationrealist

      The problem with doing this with schools is twofold. First, capacity. It’s insane how much would be needed. There are far more teachers than there are customer interacting cops.

      Second, and the real killer, is student privacy. What people don’t realize is that far, far, far more students would be caught doing bad shit than teachers. Even if they weren’t, the data would have to be protected to parents only, and that’s just not possible.

      So either privacy laws would have to change or it’s a nogo.

      • Astynomia

        I’m not sure capacity is much of an issue. My agency has about 500 cops. We’re all required to wear axon cameras and have them recording whenever we’re either dealing with the public, or in the jail buildings and dealing with inmates. Right now we don’t have to record our interactions with each other, but we know that’s going to change too. We have to keep those recordings for anywhere from two years to forever depending on the incident. (All uses of force are kept forever fyi).

        I assume there would be costs associated with it, but I think eventually most states wouldn’t care. Just like they don’t care what the original costs were for law enforcement, they just wanted them wearing these things and recording all the time. I know my axon can be turned on remotely and viewed at any time by my supervisor. I expect it. I’d definitely want that with anyone teaching my kid. I don’t think it’s actually asking that much. (I’ll address the privacy with minors later, but I think it’s a mistake to assume that interactions with minors are automatically legally protected against this. I assume you are better versed at this law than I am in this case however. I had thought protections only really begin when they are accused of something, are related to their education records, or HIPPA covered. Am I missing something there? Are daily interactions with kids a legally protected matter that cannot be divulged without proper consent? If so, how do regular surveillance videos get taken?)

        As I alluded to in the original comment, constant video surveillance has done wonders for keeping the bullying types from even applying at my agency. They KNOW full well what they’d do given the chance and so now if they are forward looking at all tend to avoid agencies with constant surveillance policies.

        I have a friend who is basically retired after a fifteen year tech career in silicon valley. One of the things we always end up talking about when we get together is the inherent likelihood that whether we like it or not, our society will in fact be constantly monitoring the behavior of everyone in it soon enough. Our phones are already doing it to a great extent and the step to cameras constantly monitoring our surroundings for our own protections against reputational accusations is not far off.

        So the problem we see is how could we technically design recording hardware/software/design-architecture so that even though they all pick up everything, (unlike humans that tune out what we’re not paying attention to) your personal digital presence and actions isn’t automatically included in a recording that someone else took without your expressed consent. Obviously there would be exceptions, but right now if something happened in the vicinity of let’s say, twenty people in a mall that caused an insured against incident, what’s to stop an insurance company from subpoenaing X amount of people’s digital records of the audio of the event to resolve it?

        Do you think the microphone is off if you have amazon, tiktok, or facebook on your phone? You’re nuts, I know too many of the engineers who worked on these systems (ok I only know three, but they did in fact work on them) and it is definitely listening without your permission. Is it an apple phone? Tech believes in privacy when it is convenient for them, not when it effects the bottom line or their interests.

        I know as an leo I can subpoena for the location data from your phone to find out if you were in an area and what that phone saw and heard. (Most of the time though the phone companies don’t even ask for the subpoena, they simply grant the request.) Where is the protection here?

        So what’s the point of bringing all of this up? I don’t see how it’s not possible to constantly record what teachers do when they are working in their official role or capacity and then make that only available to parents or properly legally vetted parties. Why would that be so? I heard the same arguments fifteen years ago about why you could never have all cops wearing recorders designed to capture all their interactions, but here we are! (and again, I’d argue we’re better for it!)

        What is it I’m missing other than the automatic distaste everyone in the teaching professional would have for it? I’d think it would be wildly popular with parents. I am for it with my kids.

  • educationrealist

    So before I get to the meat of your argument, it’s worth pointing out that the research on cop cameras isn’t so fabulous that it’s a dispositive reason to start putting cameras on more cops, much less teachers.

    It’s also untrue that cost isn’t a major concern, and that’s for cops, who number far less than teachers. Moreover, cops value cameras because it helps them prove cases against the recorded subject, which is definitely relevant to my argument. I don’t want to spend any time arguing about this–I’m sure there are differing opinions and I don’t much care. I’m just saying it’s apparently not a no-brainer unmitigated good and it’s untrue that cost isn’t an issue.

    And that’s for cops. There are 900,000 law enforcement officers in America, apparently, and many of them aren’t public facing. There are nearly four MILLION teachers, and they are facing their students nearly continuously. It’s fucking insane to pretend this isn’t a massive difference in scale and cost.

    But let’s go back to the fact that cops are very much in favor of the cameras because they can use them to support charges and ask yourself how that works in school. Kids are required to go to school. They are not being accosted by a cop on suspicion of breaking the law. They would be filmed daily. Kids do stupid things. Bank on the fact that the records would be used against kids a million times more than they would on teachers. Cops are charging the public money after accusing them of crimes, often only on their word. Teachers are managing 20-35 minors per class each day. Cops have guns and can kill a member of the public. Teachers can’t.

    “What is it I’m missing other than the automatic distaste everyone in the teaching professional would have for it? I’d think it would be wildly popular with parents. I am for it with my kids.”

    Possibly because you are one of the sorts who imagine themselves in the majority but are actually close to fringe. Very few parents even today think their kids are at risk from teachers. The ones who do envision all teachers as either potential sexual predators or indoctrinators. Reality wins. I say this not to be cruel–all these people who think public schools are a hotbed of leftist evil are fixated on it and nothing I can say will convince you, so the fear to you seems real. But you’ll never get any thing approaching even a minority to support it. (and if you think that parents are mad at public schools now, that’s exactly the kind of non-reality-based thinking I’m talking about.)

    And if that’s not enough, blacks and Hispanics don’t want their kids anywhere near a camera and the interest groups would make the case for disparate impact so thoroughly that anyone bringing the subject up would risk cancellation.

    • Astynomia

      Well, I think you might have missed my point to some extent, but I think that’s because you’ve missed the point for what cameras are used for in law enforcement. We use them to watch our people and make sure they are following policy, procedure, and interacting in a ‘professional manner corresponding to department goals’ which translates to the manner the (in my case) Sheriff wants us to interact with coworkers and the public.

      We definitely also use them for evidence purposes, but again, think of what an interaction with a criminal is actually composed of; we rarely get ‘on view’ arrests, that is we rarely see someone committing a crime and then arrest them for it. Nearly all police work and arrests are situations where we are reacting to a call from the public reporting a crime, and then arrests are made if there is probable cause that someone we interacted with may have committed one.

      This means that cameras are there to record how we perform every step of the process in accordance with due process as set by statute law and the courts. THAT is where cameras are useful to us. I live in a suburban county of Kansas City. It’s nice here. We have plenty of crime, but very few police officers hop from ongoing criminal activity to ongoing criminal activity. We respond to minor calls dealing with the after effects of crime. We get LOTS of calls, all of which the public wants to make sure occur in a professional manner and can be reviewed to make sure we’re not using things like implicit bias in our public or private on duty interactions. (Or off duty as well for that matter, different conversation though).

      I work in the county jail. The Sheriffs here decided long ago to put commissioned officers in it to ensure they didn’t have the inherent problems that come with typical jail staff. (They are very often not very far off from or the criminal class themselves. Read up on KCMO’s jail for a good example). It’s sunny and 70 degrees in here year round. I have the opportunity to transfer out if I want to, but you get the picture. I get to take care of 700 to 800 of my criminal friends here, and to know the criminal population of my county very, very well.

      The video cameras DO capture what these guys do when I interact with them. Mostly they capture our people doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. But they have radically changed things here in ways that I and every other cop in America know the cops talking to the Pew study fail to mention (because you can’t without getting people in a lot of trouble) cameras have very nearly ended the lying and badly behaved officers we had.

      I am not going to argue with you that teachers are mostly exactly what you say they are. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve you. I have plenty of teacher and social worker friends and your descriptions of what the public perception of teachers are vs reality sounds spot on. Cops in general I believe had a much better than deserved public opinion of them before the widespread adoption of video cameras and surveillance of them.

      When I first started here, we got plenty of speeches about exactly what the expectations of us were, and our duty to report. Plenty of us took it seriously. It was also normal to here someone come in and say, “I had a really #@$! day, and I know exactly who I ‘m going to take it out on!” Or, they’d find someone who gave them just the smallest excuse to start a fight, and then sure enough they’d have it.

      We had video surveillance cameras all over the place at this time. But they lacked sound. Bodycameras changed this dynamic radically. We very quickly could now pin down exactly who said what when and in what manner and could get rid of most of our bad actors. What was equally important was that bad actors stopped applying. They quickly saw the same phenomenon happening across the country and knowing what they would do and understanding the consequences for themselves, they simply stopped applying for the job. (This was the first sign of a hiring crisis you heard about for law enforcement around 2010.. Widespread adoption of bodycameras started then and the attendant hiring problems soon followed.)

      So what is this to teachers? I do think the public will want those cameras. I think you make good points about who might not want them, but I haven’t met any parent who didn’t want them for the teaching staff interacting with their kids. Almost every person I know trust the school staff at their schools. You’re right, it’s just like congress, everybody wants to complain about the public school system, but just like their representative congressmember, their teachers and school are great! …but they all still seem to think the cameras are a great idea.

      Because when you’re dealing with your own kids, it’s much more like the Cold War adage, “Trust, but verify.”

      I’ve read your blog for awhile now, and I check back with it on average every few months. I think you give a great picture of the way teachers interact with their students. I think teachers tend to be very reflective overall of the communities they live in and are often the best examples of what a person in that community can be. They have flaws like everyone else, but not the kind a camera is going to capture and take to trial or get fired. I think mostly cameras would show all of you doing the right thing. I also think that the kids would be shown mainly doing the right thing too. I think much of the value would be in clearing up what exactly took place in a disputed interaction that is unlikely to result in something like an arrest, but more along the, “Teacher said!…fill in the blank” variety. I still think there’s a lot of value in that.

      Let’s say a parent wants to accuse you of filling the kids heads with leftist drivel. Ok, did they? You’d have the video. Now you can verify whether they are or not. (You see, just like the Cold War adage, it was always actually the opposite, ‘verify, then trust’). Let’s say the teacher said, “Please have X, Y, and Z done by next class.” As a parent, I can verify that. I don’t have to worry about only trusting my kid, which to be honest, often it’s they who are lying. We both know it.

      I think a relatively few teachers are creeps who would do something stupid to or with kids/teenagers. But every years I book in one to two (usually high school teachers) for crimes ranging from inappropriate relations to sex with students. That’s a high enough ratio for parents to want this surveillance of teachers. YOU are almost definitely innocent and the only reason I don’t automatically say beyond question is that you are a human being and I’ve seen plenty of human beings make terrible decisions. They are humans. The kids are humans too. People screw up. Almost all teachers would never have a problem living with this tech. A few won’t and I think the impact on everyone else would be negligible from a personal standpoint. (I am categorically sure btw once again you are not a problem or have any reason to suggest you are, but of course I’m trying to illustrate the point of, ‘sure almost everyone is not a predator, but some very few are’ almost to death. Again, not accusing you of anything whatsoever)

      I don’t think teachers are sitting around plotting to overthrow parents belief systems. (Ok, there are exceptions, but it’s not many) But I do want to be able to know with certainty what is being told to my children and what ideologies are being impressed on them so I can counter them if I feel I need to. I do in fact believe that all education is brainwashing of some sort or another. It’s just a question of what you’re going to wash your brain with. All ideologies have consequences, and as a society we live with them. If it were the fifties and my kid was being told that a black man could never be a suitable doctor, teacher, or husband for my daughter I’d want to know and counter that.
      If it’s 2022 and my child is being told that some people are born in the wrong bodies I want to have a long talk with my kids about evolution, the way genes are expressed into phenotypes and through reproduction and then how through the sorting mechanism of natural selection and the recombitorial mechanics of both genes and chromosomes, well, that’s just not likely and how many psychologies have a tendency to fall into whatever cultural trap has been laid for those overly disposed to acquire the popular pathology of the day. I’d bring up what I believe are very good points in “Crazy Like Us: The Americanization of Mental Illness” and how anorexia as related to weight control and ‘patriarchal imposed standards of beauty’ did not exist in Hong Kong (or China) prior to the early 1990’s and how (having lived there and seen its’ spread into China in the late 1990’s) after the concept was introduced by western/western trained psychologists and then a public awareness campaign by the educational establishment, hundreds of girls suddenly came up with the condition.

      I’d go on about how my fourth grade teacher was convinced that she had been abducted repeatedly during her childhood by a satanic cult and had horrible sexually perverse rituals committed upon her by said cult that the helpful Christian psychologist had recently helped her uncover and remember (this was the mid-eighties during a high water mark of the satanic panic) and she promptly came down with all the issues that went with that…btw, I think bodycams will migrate to the medical field soon too for the same reasons as everywhere else; liability and again, verifying for trust.

      I don’t believe a teacher would need the same bulky bodycamera we use. Much less chance it’ll be beaten up in the course of use. I do think they will become much cheaper then they already are. Just like all tech and data storage for that matter. So I don’t think in the end cost will matter. I think you’ll start getting a noticeable discount for having a car mounted camera before long as well, or they will simply come integrated into your car. The insurance companies want that. (I offer no evidence, I’m going off of conversations with insurance agents.)

      Back to your biggest points. Of course in the course of use video of your and most teacher’s interactions with students are going to show the teacher was right or trying to do the right thing nearly all of the time. That’s irrelevant. (It’s good for you, but ultimately irrelevant as to why people would want these.) I can think of nothing more precious in this life to me than my children. Why wouldn’t I or any other parent want to verify the environment they’re in and what they’re learning? Sure, some parents are disconnected and don’t care, but the parents who drive policy and practice change are not. Will this create lots of new problems? Of course it will! Are you gritting your teeth at the mere prospect of what those problems could be? What human wouldn’t be? Did you ever hear growing up that even if no one was around Jesus was basically there sitting on your shoulder watching? Well now both he AND all the parents of ALL your kids will be too!

      It’s not as bad as it sounds. I think I’ve given enough of a picture to you so that you can imagine that the unintentional and unforeseen consequences would actually create a bigger cultural shift in teaching just like it has in policing. (and really on our part, Thank God!)

      I just see it as inevitable, just like everyone ending up with a smartphone was inevitable. I don’t think cost will be a barrier. There will likely be some resistance from some establishment quarters worried about the possible evidentiary effects on bipoc kids, but other more powerful forces will eventually overrule those. What did you think the effect on bipoc police officers was when video and bodycams were introduced? Just because disciplinary processes were more or less likely to happen doesn’t mean they went away! (I for certain can only speak for my own department, but this was likely true everywhere) Are students different? Yes! But I doubt it’s enough in the end to stop the adoption of bodycameras.

      I think parents overwhelming desire to control outcomes for their kids ends up trumping any reasonable desire to avoid this. That I think is the central crux and that’s really my central point. Thank you for your critique though and I understand if you think this part of the conversation has gone on far enough. Time of course, proves all.

      • educationrealist

        Good comment. I think you are correct about teachers, and am happy to hear you aren’t one of the ones who think we’re all leftists. Makes this conversation easier.

        First: student privacy is absolute. There is no way to ensure student privacy with videoed classrooms. You can’t limit parental access to their kids because they’d see the other kids. You aren’t getting around that. Government videos of school children is almost certainly not going to happen for that reason alone.

        Second: if teachers are teaching outrageous info and it violates community standards, it will come out. Wrote about that here:

        And that was happening *before* cellphones. Schools aren’t “indoctrinating” children unless you believe (as you do) that education itself is indoctrination. Inappropriate curriculum will be found and the teachers fired.

        Third: the fact that, as you acknowledge, students will be caught a lot more than teachers in the wrong is doom for this project.

        Fourth: the one thing that cameras won’t catch, hands down, is grooming and sexual abuse. That happens off campus.

      • Astynomia

        Well, I think for now unless the real world suddenly intervenes with some immediate, obvious demand for this tech being used right now, I’m going to call your stated interpretation of where this lies the right one. You’re the subject matter expert. I do think nonetheless it does happen eventually as I think this tech will go everywhere all the time. Too easy and cheap not to. I just can’t tell how far off that would be.

        Do you mind if I ask where the legal duty to shield students from being recorded comes from? Is it just FERPA? Does that cover surveillance of children in schools by the schools? I could see a court saying that qualifies as an ‘educational record’ but I thought FERPA only covered just that, actual educational records. Not behavior in school.

        I should point out that the tech for blurring out people and sounds you don’t want in a video is now becoming far cheaper and easier to use. Picking say, three people whose images and audio you would like to see, but blurring everyone else out is pretty easy tech now. I just don’t think there’s a standard software that is cheaply and freely available to the public quite yet. Once it does, I would think that would remove a lot of the objectionable problems.

        Well. I’m off to finish my 70 hour law enforcement week and follow it up with a sit down with my almost three year old. It’s time she learned the facts of life. That is that John Dewey intentionally created age segregated classrooms to not just try to get kids to form their own moral compasses ‘naturally’ from each other, but to break the extended hold parents had over their kids from home by the reporting and enforcement of their traditional morals through their older siblings. We’ll balance that out with actual science and talk about the what it means for emergent, complex systems to manifest from their simpler, underlying structures in the brain a’la Terrance Deacon’s Symbolic Species, and then really get down to brass tacks by talking about the limits of variation that appear in the body and mind via Dawkins ‘The Selfish Gene’. Then she’ll understand why se could choose to believe things about humans, but that won’t necessarily change any reality. She’ll likely counter with an update on the new color she decided to name that is somewhere between pink and purple that she calls, “arrow”.

        At last, I’ll retire to my bed around midnight to continue to draw up my list of fiendish demands for my kid’s future teachers and think about what hell I can dream up for the school board. You see, a teacher just decided to teach children in the local elementary about what pronouns they should use and when they should use them and well, …let’s just say I’m the calmest one in several miles about it.

        (Good grief I hope you’re ok with being teased!)

        Did I mention I lived in China for a minute? Those parents had involvement DOWN. (lol, ok! I’m quitting! I’ll leave it alone!)

      • educationrealist

        Ha. Let me be clear: I am all over preventing teachers from doing pronouns. Easy to do, too.

      • Astynomia

        Sigh. No. That’s the rub with American democracy. The pronouns, along with the whole of the extended sexual revolution has become the fashionable moral thing to do. You have to do everything possible to make sure people are fulfilled. You can’t stop that. We’ve all absorbed Rawlsian ethics to the point that we think we have to validate whatever someone tells us is their ‘most natural’ self. Then we need to pay for it to happen. Until it stops being fashionable, it’ll continue no matter what it wrecks. Deciding segregation was the right thing to do because it was the morally right thing to do until it wasn’t. It probably has to self-implode before it is passed by. It will have to ruin the lives of it’s participants thoroughly enough for everyone to be disgusted that our society could ever be so cruel and thoughtless to allow such a thing. But here we are.

        And that’s defeatist if possibly true rambling. How do you easily defeat the use of invented identities in public schools?

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