Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Last February, when the news came out that a teacher who worked with kids who had autism dribbled hot sauce on a crayon to prevent a child from nibbling on them, I questioned whether it would be a good idea to have video cameras in special ed classrooms.
In recent years, I keep hearing stories about teacher abuse. Parents have been forced to wire up their kids with microphones for proof. One that made national headlines was the dad, Stuart Chaifetz, who put a digital record in his son’s pocket, which captured an aide and teacher saying things such as “Shut your mouth” and “Oh, Akian, you are a bastard.” Another dad who did the same caught the aide and teacher bullying his 14-year-old daughter with taunts like “Are you that damn dumb?” and “No wonder you don’t have friends.”
Now getting video cams into classrooms with kids who can’t speak or communicate well has become a mission for some parents around the country. They’re spreading the word via petitions, videos and letters to President Obama, including this change.org petition by a mom of a child with special needs who she says was a victim of physical and psychological abuse by a classroom aide.
Some groups have expressed concerns about privacy issues, notes this ABC News article, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Of course, closed-circut cameras in schools aren’t the definitive answer to the problem of abuse of kids with special needs. But it could help; given the number of cases cropping up, and you have to expect many more go undetected, safety measures are critical. While teachers have been caught with abuse it seems that there may be bigger issues with aides in classrooms, whose training and experience may not be up to par.
Even after teachers are caught they may not be fired; the teacher in the Akian Chaifetz case had tenure and was moved to another school.
Me, I’m all for this. What are your thoughts: Should video cameras be installed in classrooms where there are kids with special needs?
Image of teacher in classroom via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Dribble hot sauce on crayons to deter a kid from putting them in his mouth: It’s mind-boggling that any teacher could think this was a good idea. But it’s even more mind-boggling when it involves a special-needs teacher who works with kids who have autism. This is what Lillian Gomez allegedly did in her class last fall at Sunrise Elementary school in Osceola County, Florida. She’s been suspended; a termination hearing is set for later in February.
A few months ago, a story came out about teachers caught bullying a child with special needs in Ohio; they were saying things like “Are you that damn dumb?” These stories are horrific but particularly terrifying if you have a kid with special needs. They make you wonder: Could anything like that happen in my child’s class?
I would like to think the answer is no. I know and adore my son’s teacher, and the aides in the class seem great. But stories like these sure do give you pause. They make you fear for your child, who might not be able to communicate about abusive incidents. They certainly make you wonder about what sort of checks and balances schools have for making sure these sorts of things doesn’t happen.
Mostly, though, I can’t get past how a person who works with kids who have special needs could do this. In my nine years of meeting special ed teachers and therapists, I have found nearly every one of them to be exceptionally wonderful human beings. Working with our kids has its vast rewards but it also has vast challenges; these people chose a more challenging teaching path because they care for kids with disabilities.The occasional rotten apple in the bunch, then, comes as a surprise—although in every profession, there are rotten apples in the bunch.
I don’t know the first thing about how principals or people who run schools, any schools, make sure teachers are being humane. Installing video cameras in classrooms is one viable solution, although it would be controversial in the same way nannycams are. Some might say they’re not a problem if a teacher has nothing to hide—but some might say they’re an extreme invasion of privacy. Cameras are already present in various daycare centers around the country.
Back in December 2010, a Florida state board member recommended that the state install video cameras in classrooms as a teacher evaluation tool. As she said, “This video will provide us the opportunity to have more objective evaluations.”
If the state had done that, there’s a good chance this teacher would not have used hot sauce as a discipline tool.
I would not mind a videocam in my kids’ classrooms. What’s your take on this?
Image of help card in red via Shutterstock
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autism, discipline, health, hot sauce and students with autism, teacher abuse, teacher hot sauce punishment | Categories:
Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Children With Special Needs, Disability, Down Syndrome, Must Read, SPD, Special Needs, Special Needs Parenting, To The Max