Public schools throughout the Washington, D.C.-area are being outfitted with thousands of surveillance cameras despite little to no input from students and parents.
According to an investigation by News4, more than 30,000 cameras are currently operating throughout multiple school districts, 1,300 of which were installed in just the last few months.
Although public school officials in D.C. claim the cameras are in response to recent school shootings, local police are already monitoring more than 6,100 streams in real-time to look for crime and misbehavior among students.
“DCPS centrally monitors alarms and security cameras in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department from a central security command center,” DCPS spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz told News4.
Paid for in part with federal grant money, new schools are even being designed with surveillance in mind, complete with “central security hubs” to monitor countless school attendees.
“This is something we planned, when we wired our buildings,” Montgomery County Public Schools Security Director Bob Hellmuth said. “We wired them for the maximum number of cameras we could put in.”
Despite staff being unable to monitor the growing number of live streams, thousands of cameras continue to be installed at numerous schools.
Even with a growing number of assets being diverted to surveillance related issues, Hellmuth claimed the cameras were only a minor part of overall school security.
“There are lots of things we use a camera for, but it’s not our primary security initiative,” Hellmuth said.
One local parent, Jamison Adock, argued that the cameras would do little to prevent crime, but supported the school’s overall approach.
“I don’t think it’s going to prevent things,” Adcock said. “We’d like to have people watching the cameras or on the ground (in the buildings).
Despite this, modern day public schools have begun to more closely resemble state penitentiaries than education centers.
Representing how far school surveillance has come, engineers in New York began developing a “biometric” monitoring program last year to track children’s every move while in the classroom.
Everything from a student’s eye movements, facial expressions and conversations would be analyzed, rated and stored in a central database to allegedly help teachers pinpoint positive teaching methods.
School officials in Washington County, Maryland announced last August that a new software program would monitor their students’ social media accounts for illegal activity on and off campus.
The following month a U.S. Army colonel turned school superintendent in Huntsville, Alabama reported that a phone call from the National Security Agency led him to create a secret surveillance program to monitor students’ social media activity as well.
The NSA vehemently denied the claim.
Regardless, school surveillance has seemingly begun to replace parents with the state, as yet another aspect of American citizens’ lives go under the microscope.
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