Phoenix – Former Congressman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon penned a new op-ed this weekend in the Western Tribune.
Salmon exposes Kari Lake’s misguided and dangerous proposal to install a video camera in every classroom across our state, which would provide a ripe target for child predators and state-sponsored actors to spy on our children.
You can read the op-ed below:
Cameras In Classrooms Would Be A Gift To Big Tech, Big Government
The Western Tribune
December 4, 2021
After a year-plus of controversies about the curriculum their children are being taught and having seen dysfunction in classrooms, more parents than ever want to know to a greater degree what’s happening in their children’s schools. And they are 100 percent justified.
Instead of empowering moms and dads, some politicians have proposed empowering Big Government and Big Tech by installing cameras in Arizona classrooms.
The onset of ‘Zoom learning’ during the pandemic had an unexpected twist. It gave parents — some for the first time — a real-time look at what their children were being taught, and many didn’t like what they saw.
The evidence that young people were being hand-fed offensive and woke curricula was justifiably upsetting to moms and dads who wanted to see math, science, reading, and writing. So, they decided to get involved in shaping education policy.
As a parent, grandparent, and former member of an education committee in Congress, it was nice to see more engagement on an issue I care deeply about. But these concerned parents soon learned that they would not be welcomed with open arms, but with outright hostility by the very same people whose paychecks are subsidized with their taxpayer dollars.
We saw school board members throw parents out of public meetings. The National School Boards Association compared angry moms and dads to domestic terrorists. Now, the controversy has struck home, with allegations that Jann-Michael Greenburg, then-president of the Scottsdale Unified school board, had spied and compiled invasive dossiers on parents.
This treatment has been completely unacceptable. I was the first candidate for governor to call on these school board bullies to be held accountable. And even today I am the only candidate for governor who has released a detailed education policy informed by conversations with parents and educators.
One thing my policy does not contain is a proposal to place cameras in every Arizona classroom.
One of my opponents in the Arizona governor’s race, Kari Lake, supports such cameras. Under her proposal, she would force schools to install them in classrooms, provide access to those feeds, and then archive the videos for at least six months. She noted that schools will need to take precautions so that “a bunch of creepers” don’t end up “watching what’s happening in the classroom.”
While it may sound appealing at first glance to have ‘more eyes’ in schools, one of the first things you learn in public service is the law of unintended consequences. President Ronald Reagan warned that a government program “is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth,” and that’s exactly what this proposal would be: an endless, misguided, and dangerous program that would invite around-the-clock surveillance by Big Tech and enable Big Government to inject itself even more into our lives.
Moreover, it would provide a ripe target for state-sponsored actors to engage in cyber espionage on our children as news arrives routinely of them breaching local, state, and federal government institutions. True to form, Lake has failed to articulate any details on how such a misguided proposal would be undertaken. Both the cost and the management needed to administer cameras in thousands of schools and tens of thousands of classrooms surveilling more than one million students seems like a logical point of inquiry, to start.
My approach? More parents, less government.
Instead of installing cameras in classrooms, let’s bring parents in by giving them a greater voice in shaping curricula and by removing all of the barriers to their active involvement. I trust moms and dads much more than I trust the government bureaucrats and Big Tech companies that would be tasked with Lake’s surveillance operation, and I bet many others feel the same way.
To be clear, I completely oppose this classroom camera mandate, and I urge all Arizonans who believe in freedom to think long and hard before some knee-jerk reaction creates a Big Government and Big Tech monster that we can’t control. Moms and dads should be the ones in charge.
This is a clear example of why Arizona needs a proven conservative as its next governor; otherwise, we would be saddled with poorly informed and dangerous proposals and policies that would hurt, not help, our kids.
Matt Salmon, a former U.S. Congressman, is a Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona.