I'm not sure how comfortable I am with having every classroom videotaped at all times, but a friend makes an interesting case for it:
Arne's NY Times commentary that transparency into the classroom is THE key. When I taught in Jersey City last year, I will admit that my behavior was different and somewhat altered when a parent was in the room visiting or helping out. Also, the students behaved very, very differently. They were either focused, attentive or at a minimum were not disruptive.
Why not record every minute of every class and archive it? Why not have webcams through which parents can log on and watch every minute if they want to? I know for certain that this level of transparency would solve many existing problems and increase class time dedicated to lessons, rather than managing student drama. It would also get teachers and teachers' aides off of their blackberries and cell phones and e-mail during class time, which is just a disgrace, but sometimes the only haven from dysfunctional schools with poor resources (I taught 4 courses with NO textbooks).
Arne has it right on this transparency issue. Everyone behaves differently when there is risk of being on the 5 o'clock news. These are public institutions using public funds to help produce productive and prepared citizens. Those who fear full transparency should move on. It is time to change the laws . . . the profanity will decline, the preparedness will increase, and the achievement will accelerate.
Here's another question a reader asked that I hope someone can help me with:
Might you have in your library a study that I heard Mark Roosevelt in Pittsburgh once quote, stating that the second most "learned helpless" population in the country, behind African Americans, is actually teachers?