Campaigners rejoice as Texas introduce cameras in special needs classes

Campaigners are celebrating a victory in ensuring the protection of special needs students in Texas schools through the introduction of CCTV.

Since June, schools in Texas have been able to install cameras to protect students. Senate Bill 507 was created following the alleged rape of a student with autism, for which a prosecution was not able to be brought due to lack of evidence.

Dr Diana Otero is Executive Director of Special Education at YISD. “There have been concerns in the past from other districts, that probably prompted the need for this (law),” she said. “And I say we have great teachers, I don’t see a problem with any of that. I see it as another layer of safety that parents feel they need.”

Tara Heidinger runs the Cameras In Special Needs Classrooms campaign. “Texas families, advocates, and more stuck together, shared their testimonies, and let their voices be heard all the way to state house,” she said. “Texas families, advocates, and more have been fighting for cameras in special needs classrooms at least 4-5 years now.
With everyone sticking together and never giving up, they passed the Bill this session to have cameras in special needs classrooms in the State of Texas. Georgia state has a Bill currently and more states in the USA are fighting for Bills. Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and more are also getting involved for Cameras In Special Needs Classrooms.

The Facebook Page for Cameras In Special Needs Classrooms is: http://www.facebook.com/CamerasInSpecialNeedsClassrooms

Pupil monitoring software criticised

A software package that is intended to allow teachers to monitor the emotions of pupils has been criticised by a campaigner.

Stoneware, a Lenovo unit that makes classroom management software, will be incorporating emotions analytics into its software that tracks attention of pupils in the classroom.

Rich Cheston
GETTING IT OFF YOUR CHESTON: Campaigner’s say that Rich Cheston’s technology for monitoring school pupils’ emotions needs to focus on teachers too. Courtesy: Obtained from LinkedIn

Rich Cheston, chief solutions officer at Stoneware and says that teachers “can see it (the emotion feedback) as they are teaching, so they can determine when to take corrective action.”

Campaigners are up in arms, saying that it is the teachers that should be monitored and not just the pupils. Tara Heidinger is President of the Cameras In Special Needs Classrooms campaign. “Working with children with special needs can be a stressful job,” she said. “There have been many cases where staff has taken situations to far where the children are coming home with unexplained marks and bruises, restrained and injured, abuse, neglected, and sadly deaths in schools.
Cameras would be an extra safety and protection tool inside the classrooms for children and staff.
Cameras in special needs classrooms has shared thousands of stories from many places around the world like USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, UN, and more are interested.

Jonathan Bishop of Crocels, devised an emotion recognition device called PARLE in 2002 to help people with autism. “The idea of teachers monitoring students without their involvement is archaic,” he said. Bishop, who has long been an advocate of bring-your-own-device policies says that things have moved on beyond the teacher having ‘eyes-in-the-back-of-their-head.’ He said: “With it being possible for each pupil to have their own smart device, the collaborative use of emotion recognition and advice systems offers learning opportunities that does not rely on teachers spying on students, as it is possible for understanding and using emotions to become part of the learning process in a collaborative fashion.

Since Bishop devised his system in 2002, other systems have come online. Emotient, which a startup in San Diego, and Affectiva, which in Waltham, Massachusetts, have both released systems for monitoring emotions. Brent Sapiro, of Affectiva, said their current technology does not go as far as Bishop’s technology at Crocels. “Unfortunately, at the time, Affdex does not support or recognize the settings [Crocels] use,” he said. “The majority of our work is related to Market Research.