Red Apple Mom

September 18, 2011

About Those Proposed Surveillance Cameras in High School Cafeterias…

Say what you will about today’s teenagers, but I’m not buying into the premise that a couple of mass food fights in the last year justify surveillance cameras in all of our Fairfax County High Schools.  

Aren’t we jumping the gun here just a wee bit?

The cost alone – $8000 per school – seems awfully excessive for one.

More importantly, though, when did ALL of our teens become public enemy #1 requiring video surveillance?

We want these kids to act like adults.  Aren’t there better ways to encourage them to do so?

I appreciate that FCPS is soliciting input from the PTAs (as they darn well should).

However, before we go all “Big Brother” on our kids, why not engage the student councils for their opinions too?

Isn’t this a perfect “leadership” opportunity for Fairfax County’s teens?  Perhaps the student body presidents could come up with some solutions that engage their school administrators to prevent “flash mob” cafeteria incidents.

When I was a teen, we could leave our school campus for lunch.  It gave us some responsibility.  It made us feel grown up.   Can’t we find better school lunchroom policies that would encourage our teens to “act adult” rather than “act out?”

I don’t like the message these surveillance cameras send to kids.  Do our teens really need to live under a big “eye in the sky” in our public schools here in Fairfax County?  Seriously – this isn’t Detroit.   (I can say that because I grew up there! 🙂 )

Here’s another idea I’ll throw out for consideration – Let’s call it the “High School TSA Fast Pass Option.”

Your child agrees to submit to a tight initial screening at the beginning of the school year – grilled by administrators about their potential threat as a potential “food-fight” participant.  If the student is deemed a non-threat, they can get their “TSA Fast Pass” and eat in peace without surveillance. 

Here’s another option – cafeteria ankle shackles.   That has to be cheaper than video cameras!  If your kid wants to eat, they have to lock up first. If a food fight begins, all the perps can be easily identified since they will already be shackled in place.  The added benefit to shackles –  no expensive technology upgrades!

Sarcasm aside, we’ll see how this issue plays out in the next few months.  However you feel about the issue, register your opinions with your administrators, School Board members, and PTA/PTO leadership.

Kudos though to the parent advocacy group Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform who first brought this issue to the attention of the press.  Check out their arguments in the press release they issued last week.  FZTR News Release-Video Surveillance

Related Articles:

Fairfax Principals Want Indoor School Cameras  (Washington Post, September 17, 2011)

School Security Cameras Proposal Draws Parent Glares In Fairfax County (Fairfax County Times, September 16, 2011)

Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform


  1. My son is a 7th grade student at Longfellow Middle School.

    Apparently things have changed a great deal since his older brother attended Longfellow two years ago. That year, my older son received a complete set of books to keep at home so he wouldn’t have to carry books back and forth between school and home (courtesy of the PTA).

    This year, my youngest son reports he hasn’t received a text book for every class because there aren’t enough to go around. There is a set in the classroom they can use for class and that set is shared between all classes.

    Here’s what I have to say to the jackasses on the School Board: take that $3.2 million dollars you intend to waste on surveillance cameras for the high school cafeterias and buy our children texts books so that they can be educated!!

    I guess the position of the School Board, with their draconian discipline policies, is to eventually suspend, transfer, and/or expel the majority of children to create a Utopian school district with smaller class sizes and no behavioral issues. Then they can spend all the money they want on granite or marbled hallways and elevators in their posh headquarters while the rest of us hire tutors to make sure our criminal children are properly educated.

    They disgust me on a level I never imagined and I CANNOT WAIT until election day!

    Comment by Korinne M. Jackman — September 18, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  2. Great ideas for student participation in this issue! Dialogue, communication, critical thinking skills and group processes in a real life situation would make for great experience for many students. Students certainly should be consulted on this issue as to their privacy vs safety, if that is the rationale that FCPS is presenting.

    Comment by kvandyck — September 19, 2011 @ 7:52 am

  3. Don’t kids make videos of each other anyway? This could save the county thousands!

    Comment by isophorone — September 20, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  4. The UK is debating this issue as well. I can see placing cameras in the schools with a high crime rate but not for food fighting.

    Comment by mammamia23 — September 24, 2011 @ 5:57 am

  5. Not $8K but $120K per school
    With 194 schools, that’s over $23 million.
    It is obscene with all the needs that this is somehow a priority.

    Comment by momlikeu — September 25, 2011 @ 12:17 am

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