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Welcome to the K-12 Surveillance State (nytimes.com)
179 points by mindgam3 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 161 comments

Is there any data on how being recorded at all times affects the behavioral development of those children ? Adults definitely behave differently when they know they are monitored (I personally know I do), so I wonder what kind of mental health issues would hide in those children if they are monitored at all times... I also feel like using this to prevent bullying or suicides is the wrong option, as educating kids themselves would probably be a more sensible idea (but hey you need teaching personnel that’s decently paid for that !).

It’s interesting that this surveillance is banned in France because teachers and pupils have « a right to privacy »: https://www.cnil.fr/fr/la-videosurveillance-videoprotection-...

>Is there any data on how being recorded at all times affects the behavioral development of those children?

The literature list from this paper[0] might be a good place to start looking.

[0] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137308863_4

Thanks, exactly what I was looking for :-)

>Is there any data on how being recorded at all times affects the behavioral development of those children ?...

I don't have any data or anything, but I think that brain development is not even complete until well after 12th grade in humans. In particular, I think the ability to self regulate is compromised.

So here's the thing, the people doing all this are child development experts, so they would know all about brain development. A lot more than myself. In a very real way, these guys have made it a policy to monitor children who they know very well will likely not change their behaviors due to being monitored. So you have to wonder if this is just more about attribution and the ability to justify punishments? Just administrators playing CYA?

"No ma'am. We know it was your son who assaulted that girl. Here's the video for your perusal."

"No son. We know you said so and so to that other student over there. Here's the video."

"No sir. That was definitely your daughter fighting over there. Here's the video."

Etc etc etc.

So in answer to your question, "No." Children will not change their behavior. Certainly not at the mean.

Welcome any corrections from any child dev experts on HN if I'm wrong about brain development in children.

« So here's the thing, the people doing all this are child development experts, so they would know all about brain development »

But are they ? Do we have any indication that this is the case ? Those tech companies could just be after what they see is money and not be based on any science (as it’s often the case).

From Gaggle’s website: « You are invading my child’s privacy! Well, aren’t you? Most educators and attorneys will tell you that when your child is using school-provided technology, there should be no expectation of privacy. In fact, your child’s school is legally required by federal law (Children's Internet Protection Act) to protect children from accessing obscene or harmful content over the Internet.".

This is the worst straw man argument I have seen in a long time. You can prevent my kid from seeing porn without reading everything she does.

>Those tech companies could just be after what they see is money and not be based on any science (as it’s often the case)...

Well, that's true.

I guess I just assumed people would be doing all this in step with some theory or principles of child development that indicated that this would be effective?

Maybe I'm giving way too much credit.


>I don't have any data or anything, but I think that brain development is not even complete until well after 12th grade in humans. In particular, I think the ability to self regulate is compromised.

You are right on the money, myelin sheath[0] development isn't complete until 25 - 30 years of age and is critical for executive function[1].



> I don't have any data or anything, but I think that brain development is not even complete until well after 12th grade in humans. In particular, I think the ability to self regulate is compromised.

12th grade is seriously lowballing it as well.

The human brain doesn't stop developing until well into our mid-twenties, and there is still some plasticity even after that.

>monitor children who they know very well will likely not change their behaviors due to being monitored

Is that the case?

Whether or not some rulebreaking will happen on-camera doesn't preclude the possibility that children do change their behavior while being monitored, nor prove that constant monitoring will have no effect on their psyche.

It's interesting the parallels that can be drawn to tobacco addiction, of all things. Hook 'em while they're young, and they won't think anything about expanding the surveillance when they're in power, because it's what they're used to, so why not if it can protect people?

Why not examine it from another perspective? Risk and reward? Are more people served by it or harmed? For example look at how useful dashcams and bodycams are to situations! Oh and an anecdote! I was parking at work and the building security cameras witnessed the collision (driver was on their phone and tboned me) making the insurance claim open and shut. We have security camera inside as well with displays throughout the building making finding people in a building with multiple floors easy.

I think the point is that once the cat is out of the bag it’s hard to put it back. For example, at first more people were helped by opiates than harmed. As time passed, by the time we realized that relationship had changed, we already had a bunch of addicted citizens.

It isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine an authoritarian government using our own surveillance video for nefarious purposes.

I don't want to use the word "literally" too much but ... China is literally doing this.

Then you get filmed with something that looks awfully like the joint they found in the trashcan on that grainy security footage, and you're in prison for the next five years, lose your job, your home and your family.

It is easy to opt for more surveillance until it comes around to bite you.

Reminds me of this answer: https://security.stackexchange.com/a/33471

I don't think the message of the story relies on whether or not scientists actually put a bunch of monkeys in a room or not.

Doesn't the conclusion of the actual experiment contradict the message being conveyed in the comment, though? It certainly does not clearly support it.

But they did put a bunch of monkeys in a room, and to opposite effect. Read the link for more info.

If you ask the government to do something impossible, such as provide COMPLETE safety and security, they will try to do that. I think the news media bears some responsibility in this regard, as they always blame or call out whatever agency that fails to maintain safety and security, thus leading to severe measures to try to mitigate the previous failure.

Absolutely. Even in this thread there are arguments about there being dark areas where the cameras can't see so they won't be effective enough. Nothing was learned from no child left behind. 100% policies don't work.

Before we had children misclassified as threats by errant algorithms, we misclassified them with people. There were a bunch of zero-tolerance policies passed in the early 2000s, and they often provided no path to understand or appeal the decision to label a child as a threat.

Since I can't read the article I can only go with story time here- my wife has cameras in her room and she loves them. Fights about 'who started it' are ended with the words, 'Ok, let's look at the video'. And when some little bully gets called on the carpet and their bullying parent comes in all set to steamroller administration with 'that's not what my child said happened why are you picking on them' the principal just rolls the footage and watches as the realization that their kid is a little shit dawns on the parent.

Nope. Not worth it.

There are mountains of evidence demonstrating that people change their behaviors when they know they are being watched. Do we really care about the automatic resolution of petty squabbles between children, or even the coercion of children to never engage in petty squabbles? Do we really want to rob children of mischief, conflict resolution, and making a case for themselves in a way that cannot always be substantiated with hard evidence? Do we really want to condition young minds to see a constant surveillance as a kind of benevolent security blanket?

And that's not even all that's at stake. The Overton window is shrinking as it is, and academia has adopted a censorious and puritanical orthodoxy. Classes benefit a great deal from the students who care enough to challenge what is presented as de facto truth, but I'm inclined to believe that this will give a basis to silence that behavior. Looking back on my own experiences, would I have felt comfortable speaking out against teachers if I knew I was under surveillance? I'm not so sure. But in most cases, even the teachers themselves often told me that they were happy to have somebody engage them meaningfully. But some weren't so happy, and those are the ones that have a new channel for abuse.

And what about the teachers? Some of the best teachers I had would've been fired for what they taught, or allowed students to do. Allowing controversial class discussions, sometimes among students bordering too young to handle the subject matter. Doing a dangerous chemistry or physics demonstration that bends the rules slightly. A classroom led by a cheeky teacher was often ruined by the superintendent or principal standing in the doorway. Now they're in the doorway 24/7.

I agree, it is normalizing surveillance such that the kids grow up expecting there to be camera everywhere and accepting it.

What's wrong with that though?

No one actually watches the video, unless something happens.

And this is an elementary classroom- resolution of petty squabbles means 28 kids don't get to learn while 2 others yell 'he did it first'. They can be beasts to each other at recess.

> No one actually watches the video, unless something happens.

You must do PR for the NSA.

Or a school has fewer resources than the NSA.

And don't think I don't see the potential for abuse, but I see the potential for abuse in basically everything. You have to give organizations the benefit of the doubt the same way you do individuals.

> You have to give organizations the benefit of the doubt the same way you do individuals.

Why? I don't normally like being overly contrarian, but in this case this position is so naive that I just can't think of a good reason to do what you're proposing. Especially in the US (and certain other problematic countries) you really should know better than to trust an organisation with sensitive information.

> No one actually watches the video, unless something happens.

This is not reality. Even with access restrictions in place, people are going to weigh the pros and cons of watching the video to achieve their own ends.

Who might watch it? A supervisor or coworker with a vendetta. A student/teacher obsessed with a student/teacher. A pedophile. A teacher looking to silence a challenging (but not problematic) student. A racist looking to have a particular student removed. A student looking for embarrassing things about other students to post online. etc. etc.

> No one actually watches the video, unless something happens

You're right. Now, nobody watches unless something happens.

And then some shifty SV startup starts selling ML studentcams that determine what "bad" is. Of course, questioning the ML is verboten. It made the decision and you cannot ask why.

Not sure why you're being downvoted. This is the same reason I don't want e.g. FB collecting data on every action I take. I don't care if they can glean something from it today; the mere fact that such a database exists worries me about what they will be able to do with it tomorrow.

Having the other 28 kids see how to resolve petty squabbles is likely more valuable than their regularly scheduled elementary school lessons.

If it helps, this is a very realistic portrayal of how privacy is degraded over time. Invading privacy has all sorts of practical applications. You can fight crime more effectively, and measure trends, and generally be more effective at all sorts of capitalism and statecraft. But, problems, and risks just pile up over time. Just think of what we could do for just one small sacrifice!

And let's get real here about how we solve problems with decreased privacy.

Good luck ever getting an official to do anything for you. If it does not benefit them or the system, they never have the time or authority to do it. The surveillance is to benefit the state, not the surveilled.

This is abstraction. How do you apply that to the case of a teacher sending misbehaving kids to the principal's office, and what would you want instead?

We've never required surveillance to send kids to the office before...

Having a teacher in the room has the same "you're being watched" effect as a camera, it's just less efficient at watching.

I want to highlight the tension between liberty & socialization here, because I think it's getting glossed over. Public education is a huge infringement on individual liberty - it's basically mandatory brainwashing of kids for 6-8 hours/day, 180 days/year, for 12 years. Nobody would realistically suggest getting rid of it, because we all grew up with it.

Taking it back a step, parenting is also an infringement on individual liberty - a child is totally dependent upon a parent, and oftentimes exposed to nothing other than the parent's views, and is biologically hard-wired to pick up on a parent's emotions and mirror them. Can't really blame society for that, though, evolution did it.

People who worry about the slippery slope are right to worry. But it's been going on for centuries. We think that our particular point on it is natural and right because that's what we grew up with, just as our kids might think pervasive surveillance is natural and right because that's what they grew up with - which is exactly what we're justifiably afraid of. If we lived on individual farming homesteads and someone proposed taking our kids away from us for the majority of their waking childhood, we'd probably be even more upset.

Probably the endgame is like the Matrix, where humans are confined to individual pods with no agency of their own, except that instead of being tapped for bio-energy we'll end up being used to train machine-learning algorithms.

Your analysis has an underlying assumption of individualism. That is, the ideology (quite common in the U.S.) that each person is competent to make their own decisions and has the right to do so independently of what anyone else might want.

Having kids or taking care of mentally declining parents tends to put a big dent in that. Or working in other situations where you commonly interact with people who are clearly no good on their own. However much lip service we might pay to it, respect for Autonomy and Individual Agency only goes so far when people are doing what's Clearly The Wrong Thing, then you have to decide when to step in.

Group decision-making is messier but in many ways more realistic. It isn't necessarily dystopian, though someone thinking in purely individualistic terms might see at as such.

That's my point, but I'm not taking a position on it (at least within this comment thread - I've got plenty of personal views on it that I apply to my personal life).

I'm pointing out that there's a continuum between total individual liberty, where everybody does exactly what they want, and living in a larger society of people, where your actions affect others and there need to be some sort of constraints on them. We've been picking points along this continuum for centuries, and sliding slowly towards more restrictions on individual liberty for the benefit of society simply because population density is higher now. The point we're at now, where we accept that giving your children over to an institution to be raised for half their waking childhood is normal but cameras in the classroom are abhorrent, is an arbitrary artifact of what we grew up with in our own childhoods. In the next generation, perhaps they'll view cameras in the classroom as normal but Matrix-style pods as abhorrent. Someday perhaps they just won't think, the same way a mitochondria (once an independent organism!) doesn't think too much about being a component of our cellular makeup.

But what privacy is there in a classroom? Theoretically the teacher could capture the same information by being more observant.

No teacher can watch the entire classroom constantly and unfailingly.

A wise teacher can offer a bit more dignity by choosing what they notice and draw attention to, or not.

Perhaps the same is true when choosing how to use video recordings?

Maybe. They're more ubiquitous, and almost certainly available to more parties. Can I really exercise my own judgement when my boss can watch the tape too?

My wife is a teacher and I promise you that principals don't want to have to manage their teacher's classes. They only step in when required or asked to.

But the teacher doesn’t create a permanent record of everything they observe.

I agree with you (my wife is also a teacher) but good luck with this crowd.

Some of the HN commenters are counting down the days until someone founds a libertarian utopian moon colony.

As a libertarian looking foreward to a moon base... Im totally good w cameras in the hands of civilians. I use my closed loop, not online connected, home serveilance system every month: saw at least 4 crimes and even caght a home invader. Passed the info we want to the cops but not all. We dont all hate cams: Some of us just dont want gov to have them on us all the time.

Not right now maybe. The system will by laid in place before the truly objectionable use cases start cropping up.

> No one actually watches the video, unless something happens

- Algorithms do (or will pretty soon )

I would like to propose another reason as to why I think it's bad. I seriously believe that the constant surveillance of people through their phones is starting to cause problems. It's now awkward to not leave the house without your phone. What if someone needs you? What if you need to reach someone? To feel safe, people need to feel constantly within arms reach of help. Monitoring children this way, is essentially easing them into the same mindset. Someone is always watching what's happening. When they step out into the real world, disconnecting from that is sure to be jarring, and what I really fear is that uneasiness will push more people into believing we need to be under a surveillance state.

> There are mountains of evidence demonstrating that people change their behaviors when they know they are being watched.

We definitely know that kids change their behavior when being watched, but most of the time we call that "parenting".

Exactly. Nobody behaves worse when they know they are being watched.

> There are mountains of evidence demonstrating that people change their behaviors when they know they are being watched.

Religion is a heck of a thing

> There are mountains of evidence demonstrating that people change their behaviors when they know they are being watched

Then why do many students and young people post photo evidence of them engaging in illegal activity on social media? I don't think it would make much of a difference. Besides we're on camera in most places of commerce and in large cities, pretty much all the time.

> Do we really want to rob children of mischief, conflict resolution, and making a case for themselves in a way that cannot always be substantiated with hard evidence... Some of the best teachers I had would've been fired for what they taught, or allowed students to do.

I think you're romanticizing what goes on in a modern US school. No one is going to go after children for small mischief. They don't go after them now because its just not worth it not because they can't catch them doing petty infractions. As for the teachers, for every great teacher having controversial and important discussions with their students, there are 9 that just roll in a TV to watch a movie about once a week.

> As for the teachers, for every great teacher having controversial and important discussions with their students, there are 9 that just roll in a TV to watch a movie about once a week.

The 10% are the ones that had the biggest impact on me as a student. They are also the ones most likely to be affected by the cameras. Hell, even in the 1990s, my European History teacher flat out said (paraphrasing), "I'd have to quit if they ever installed a camera in here. It wouldn't even work for measuring how I perform, because even if the students didn't know the cameras were in here, I would know. And it would affect how I teach things just as much as if the principal was sitting in the back row."

> Then why do many students and young people post photo evidence of them engaging in illegal activity on social media? I don't think it would make much of a difference. Besides we're on camera in most places of commerce and in large cities, pretty much all the time.

They never said being watched exclusively changes behaviour for the better.

>There are mountains of evidence demonstrating that people change their behaviors when they know they are being watched...

Maybe adults do, but I seriously doubt children do.

Maybe some child dev experts on HN could chime in here, but my understanding was that brain development is not complete until well after 18 years in humans. Not only that, but the ability to self regulate is particularly compromised in children.

Now I could be wrong. And, as I said, I welcome the child dev guys to chime in here, but I think these people are literally recording children who, because of human neurobiology, are unlikely to regulate due to the recording.

And I think the people doing the recording know that.

Kids are naive, not stupid. They will ignore the camera until someone gets caught... from then on Big Brother will be lurking in the shadows of their mind.

I grew up in an environment like that, my paranoid parents were a fan of security cameras all over the house because we grew up in a "risky" area. The cameras definitely led to a feeling of being mentally caged in, always being watched and worried about doing something wrong.

The Black Mirror "Arkangel" episode is a good commentary on omnipresent childhood surveillance...

Children know to hide behavior from disapproving adults: they're not as stupid or underdeveloped as you think they are.

Wait, there is a camera in the classroom itself, always on? The footage is saved somewhere and can be viewed by who knows who or what algorithm, judging by whatever standards the person or algorithmy applies at that time?

...justified by "solving" various conflicts in the classroom, conflicts that have root causes like large class sizes, social issues, stressful environments, overbearing parents, disrespected teachers or whatever - so we just build an panopticon?

Right now I can't even imagine watching surveillance video like that, seeing all kinds of reactions and emotions of people, of children interacting; what right do I have to systematically observe without them knowing?

Screw all of that. Spend any amound of money to have small class sizes, pay teachers better, make schools friendly and welcoming, have more counselors around or whatever.

But please throw out those cameras.

> Spend any amound of money to have small class sizes, pay teachers better, make schools friendly and welcoming, have more counselors around or whatever.

I share your strong distaste for surveiling children, but I don't think throwing money at the problem is a good solution either. there are plenty of well funded elite private schools that do everything you suggest, but still have severe bullying problems.

The footage is only kept at the school.

My wife's job is not to be the total arbiter of social justice for her students, it is to provide them with an education.

How can you ensure the footage is kept "at the school" (as if that was sufficiently limiting the exposure of the footage)? Who has physical access? Is the surveillance system cloud based? How is the school's security? Are her superiors legally allowed to watch the footage to evaluate performance? Could those overbearing aggressive parents eventually demand access to the footage, and worsen the whole problem?

Are the childrens' parents aware of the consequences of the cameras? That every tiny little move in the formative phase of their children's lifes is recorded for all eternity, and that data generally tends to leak, and all kinds of entities want access?

It is data. People were surprised when 1980s-era USENET forum posts where made accessible a few years ago. Back then it was unfathomable that this data would be searchable and accessible or even relevant, but it was. Same with our data now: it will be analyzed in ways we cannot even imagine.

I am stunned by how quickly surveillance spreads.

We worry today about incriminating twitter/FB posts derailing careers. What will happen when people can retrieve your childhood and show that OMG you dissected frogs?

The easy and correct solution is to... not make incriminating posts.

What may be completely normal and morally ok today might be a horrifying abuse of privilege and humanity tomorrow.

Just ask any US Democrat talking about race relations in the 1950s.

There are good questions below about lifetime of the video, etc. and while I can just state that everything is fine, the real answer is that schools in the US are not the closed organizations that are implied by a lot of the response here. School administration is 3 people, the district has a couple dozen. Budgets are public information, board meetings are open to all, and getting an agenda item to address concerns is not that difficult. This is the benefit to our education system not being centrally directed by some Federal organization who would be all too happy to have the 'FAANG Classroom Panopticon' installed so they can say they're 'doing something' about whatever the issue dujour is.

I don't think this addresses the concerns being replied to. Teaching is incredibly difficult and time consuming, and just like teachers do not have the time or expertise to also be full time social workers for their students, they also do not have the time or expertise to ensure that surveillance data about their students is appropriately secured and purged. The same applies to local school administration officials, who as you point out are few in number and already stretched too thin across their existing responsibilities.

I don't think anybody's saying that a particular teacher or administrator is to blame, but the original anecdote you shared is a bit chilling if you grew up expecting your childhood misdeeds to be forgotten over time. I remember that the most frightening thing the principal could say to you was "This is going in your permanent record"; the expectation otherwise was that it wasn't.

There are laws in place to address public release of info about minors. A lot of schools require a parent's signature before they'll post a public picture of a student, even if just captured incidentally. My wife's school is pretty paranoid about this stuff, mostly because of things like custody issues, restraining orders, etc. So a legal framework is in place, one with a little more teeth behind it than your typical EULA.

I understand that; I have also worked as a teacher. The problem is not that I expect schools to start willingly disclosing data about minors to whoever asks, but instead that there is so much data in the first place. A school with cameras everywhere -- even one that perfectly safeguards recorded video in perpetuity -- is teaching children that everything they do is on the record, ready to be marshalled as evidence against them at any point in the future. (To borrow a term from idlewords[1], such an environment conditions its occupants to a total lack of "ambient privacy.") Maybe that's the world we live in today, but it sucks.

[1]: https://idlewords.com/2019/06/the_new_wilderness.htm

She would probably quickly change her opinion if a principle started regularly watching recorded videos, instead of doing in person teach evaluations...

yes yes it would be all nice if we would completely revamp school system (and why stop there) into something marvelous, but back in reality where it won't probably happen in our lifetimes, some hacks may make unbearable life if public school teacher slightly more bearable.

The problem is these teachers are part of the problem. A teacher that allows her class to be surveilled 24/7 is a shitty teacher, period.

Lol, how about 6/5?

This makes sense. I am also ok with surveillance cameras whose footage gets only used when something happened and otherwise gets discarded. But cameras that feed into a system that constantly analyzes the video is pretty creepy and has potential for a lot of abuse. So let’s go old fashioned and set up a camera with a VCR by no internet connection or analytics capability.

Even a VCR tape gets put into cold storage and can be converted into a digital stream any time later.

Data is extremely persistent and it's very easy to forget this.

I wish we had these as kids. The number one problem with education in the US is the lack of discipline in the class room. Teachers spend all their time babysitting problem children instead of helping everyone else learn. Parents of problem kids do everything they can to push their children’s behavioral issues back on the teachers. Cameras in the classroom could go a long way to helping schools build record evidence that can be used against such students.

> Parents of problem kids do everything they can to push their children’s behavioral issues back on the teachers.

Whew. That's a lot of labeling! And the solution is to build evidence to be used against these tiny criminals.

Rather than just presume the kids are little shits on purpose and recording them to prove it, why not ask the kid what's going on at home? I'd bet real money that "lack of discipline" maps pretty closely to "lack of a stable home environment".

Well, yeah, but calling a parent in and saying 'you need to stop partying until 3am with your boyfriend of the week so Timmy can get some sleep and not be an impulsive little monster with no respect for his female teacher' does not go as well as you'd think.

Perhaps you could find a way to articulate your point about irresponsible parents without so much sexism. Or even better, without any sexism.

I don't see how this scenario is changed by having video of the child's misbehaviour.

Because discipline can be made to stick- Timmy can be suspended and when Mom comes in to say it can't be his fault, because that would imply it was her fault and she's never been held responsible for her actions before, oh well too bad video doesn't lie. Otherwise admin backs down about 50% of the time.

If you want to point out that this doesn't help Timmy, I'd agree. It does help the other 29 kids in the class, their parents, the teacher, and admin though.

It helps the other 29 kids in the class until there are altercations involving 5-7 of those.

Then it helps the other 22 kids in the class. What's the endgame? Do you suspend half the kids in the classroom because they're causing a disturbance for the other half?

Something this whole argument misses is that school is a great mechanism to teach kids to interact with each other and learn to solve problems.

It's a bad idea to teach kids that everything is always black and white.

> Do you suspend half the kids in the classroom because they're causing a disturbance for the other half?

Yes, you do!

> that school is a great mechanism to teach kids to interact with each other and learn to solve problems.

What kind of utopian school did you go to? None of my schools did this, at _all_.

Doesn't mean it's not true.

Because the teacher's job should be to teach, not to be a social worker.

Teachers in K-12 have never been focused on solely dispensing academic knowledge. Acclimation, acculturation, socialization; the list goes on of what they've always been expected to do. My MIL always said that her job (K-4) was to teach the little monsters how to be civilized. If they learned the three Rs, that was a bonus.

My mom's a K-12 teacher too. Not only should it not be their job to be a social worker, they're not qualified to do that work, either.

They end up having to do it anyways.

This is true, but it's not teachers who made the decision to spend resources on classroom surveillance. That's a call made at the administrative level, be it in the school or the district as a whole--and that's ultimately where the decision of how to approach problematic classroom behavior is being made.

True, but they should also not be required to secure surveillance infrastructure and purge collected data at regular intervals.

Why would they be?

What do you think teachers are actually teaching? One of the very, very important skills kids learn is how to be socialized - how to behave with others in a social setting, how to be quiet and pay attention when that is appropriate, how to settle conflicts. These are all skills you can and should be learning in school. This is what teachers do, they don't just drill you on the three Rs.

There's a difference between teaching kids to socialize and serving as a de facto social worker.

Yeah, past a certain age almost all the problem kids have parents enabling them and/or causing tons of problems for them at home. You can't fix that in school, certainly not as long as parents are allowed to have any say in what happens there (which seems like something we should maybe not just get rid of), and if teachers start having to regularly go on home visits with the very parents who are accusing them (the teachers) of all kinds of nastiness because they sent precious little Timmy to the office for calling a fellow student the C-word and using their phone in class to post same on Insta, say goodbye to most of your teachers. They didn't sign up for that.

[EDIT] incidentally I'm baffled that so many schools allow phones in the building at all, let alone students to carry them to class as they're every bit as disruptive as one would think, but I gather that's another "pressure from loud, shitty parents" decision.

Sure, because children don't have personality or autonomy. You only get that when you turn 18. /s

I don't think the cameras are a net win as the acclimation of the students to a total surveillance state has broader consequences.

What we really need is the ability for teachers to evict unruly students without having to build a multi-month evidence file. A classroom is a place to learn and there should be zero tolerance for repeat offenders. We're putting so much in the hands of teacher's as it is; giving them the option to judge behavior isn't a stretch.

To people who say that's too much power for the teachers (ex: "It's not fair! She had it in for my kid from day one!") I say phooey. Odds are your kid really is a disruptive jerk. And if a teacher truly is the problem the answer to that is to be able to fire teachers as well.

>The number one problem with education in the US is the lack of discipline in the class room.

Surely lack of adequate funding, crumbling infrastructure, out-of-date textbooks or lack of textbooks, bad curricula, a highly regimented and normative model of education (with "normal" kids and "problem" kids) and many other things could be judged to be more significant issues than "lack of discipline", which might be slapped on as a label to basically any issue that causes conflict. "Well, if only the children [ i.e., non-adults who literally lack executive function and cannot control their behavior ] were more disciplined, things would be fine."

US schools are very well funded. Adjusted for purchasing power, US educational spending is up there with Switzerland and Norway as the highest in the OECD for primary and secondary education, and is the highest for tertiary: https://www.oecd.org/education/EAG2014-Indicator%20B1%20(eng....

Primary school aged children have plenty of executive function. We’re not talking about daycares for toddlers. Americans just have very low expectations for discipline. Have you ever seen the inside of a classroom in Asia?

There's a gap between schools being well-funded, and the money being well-spent.

Administrative bloat's pretty bad, and from what I've seen a serious audit/investigation of every district in the country would turn up north of 50% being full of corruption—padded stipends, kickbacks for building contracts, hiring the spouse of an assistant super to do nothing, promoting "favorites" to higher paying positions (exactly what it sounds like, happens all the time), that kind of thing.

My partner is a teacher here in Ontario Canada. We couldn't be more against this idea.

Sure, your example of conflict resolution seems nice but there is no crisis of "who started it" that needs this level of intrusion. Truth is these classroom conflicts almost never have a clear cut instigation point. I guarantee you a bully will figure out how to egg another student on outside of the camera's view and then slyly provoke that student when the tape is rolling. These conflicts start outside, on the sidewalk, last week, on the internet ect. These are complex social dynamics that are best dealt with using the teacher's training and experience combined with addition school staff when needed.

Her classroom is a friendly place where students learn a second language. It must be protected from this.

Witness the NFL. Huge amount of viewers of each game, video replay, multiple cameras. The players know they're being watched the minute they step out of the locker room. Yet you still see them failing to exhibit restraint when goaded on by an opponent. The referees always fail to notice the instigators, but almost always catch the retaliators...

thanks for the real life anecdote. just like in startups, its helpful to hear from the actual users instead of what some armchair critics feel is happening.

however, i do worry about fights and bullying being taken to 'the dark corners of the school' such as the bathroom or some unused stairwell

>however, i do worry about fights and bullying being taken to 'the dark corners of the school' such as the bathroom or some unused stairwell

1) They did that a lot back in the "old days" anyway, since it was away from other people

2) bullies usually have poor impulse control and don't think immediately about the consequences of their actions, so they frequently won't think about the cameras, so at least some of the time they'll do their bullying in view of the cameras.

Bullies are extremely effective at detecting and determining safe times and places to bully others. My tormentors waited til right after school, til I left school property. Then it was Mad Max time to make it home...

I don't know how much it even really decreases outbursts in the classroom- this is at the elementary level so all the kids are pretty impulsive. But the reality is that it gives teachers a tool to make admin and parents address the behaviors without just dismissing it.

regarding 2) that may be true of many bullies, but I would expect at least some of them to learn how to get away with it. I could certainly imagine that some bullies would start exclusively tormenting their victims in camera deadzones and the victim finally stands up for themselves in view of the camera. all the evidence would show that that kid started a fight unprovoked.

I think prisons show this is true. They're arguably some of the most surveilled areas in society yet have many occurrences of violent and serious crime.

#2 sounds like natural selection that'll result in more effective bullies.

Outside of school "bullying" is a kind of crime. Either assault, battery or mugging. For some reason juveniles get the epithet instead of the real thing, as if it is less grave or something...

Not all bullying is physical, and the "school to prison pipeline" approach has its own major issues.

3) the hallways are already monitored by cameras in many schools, and the kids, though informed, often completely forget about it until reminded for some reason.

The lesson learned from zero tolerance tolerance policies is that there's no reason to hold back if you're both going to get in trouble.

Yes. Not all bullies are idiots. Some are quite clever. They will torment and provoke their victims just off camera, then move into view of the camera as the victim starts to hit back.

Most people who have had more than one kid, or who have supervised children in any capacity, know that some of them will make a game of setting up the other to get blame for something the first one started.

>however, i do worry about fights and bullying being taken to 'the dark corners of the school' such as the bathroom or some unused stairwell...

Maybe you're relatively young, but I'd wager the old heads among us remember the days when these things were settled out at the bike racks. So that worry was already happening, and had been happening for a very long time.

> however, i do worry about fights and bullying being taken to 'the dark corners of the school' such as the bathroom or some unused stairwell

That is easily solveable: Video surveillance in unused stairwells and bathrooms (ideally individual stalls).

What, suddenly people have problems with that? A panopticum only works when the threat of surveillance is ever-present.

> my wife has cameras in her room and she loves them.

Police also loves more surveillance. The push against surveillance tries not to help the (maybe benevolent) oppressor, but the (potential) oppressed.

Chilling effects exist, plus the potential for abuse. (And not by the policeman, but whoever gives him orders most likely.)

Well of course, your wife gets a huge benefit out of it. However the kids are the ones who are paying the cost.

It is - like many things in the messy world of compulsory education - obviously a trade off. The alternative cost is lost educational opportunity if these disruptions prevent students from learning.

This is almost literally the premise of an actual Black Mirror episode. While I do have some nest cameras, I'm likely never going to use them to resolve a family dispute, talking works for me.

I'd also feel uneasy at normalizing such surveillance for my kids. I'd like them to be able to sort a dispute without recourse to a video that won't always be there. Family disputes can often have an emotional dimension too, one that simply playing back a cold video account of the event won't resolve.

I'd be worried that that encourages extremely crude resolution strategies (ie. "Whoever threw the first punch is at fault. Look how objective this is! See, it's all on camera!").

This is horrifying.

Maybe so, but please don't post unsubstantive comments here.

Currently trying to decide how to school my kids ages 3yr and 1yr. Public, private or homeschool. Parents who have been there, How did you choose?

All three. We have 4 kids (3 of them now adults).

We re-assessed every year and decided with the kids what their education environment would look like each year.

One of them, our extremely musical daughter flipped between homeschool, private and public school several times until we found a university model school that worked well with her needs (lots of schedule flexibility to do extra-curricular music things).

You don't have to choose one way and stick with it. Your children's needs will change in ways unique to each of your kids.

[Edit] Also, schools change year to year depending on staff and pupil turnover. There's no honor in torturing your kid with a school situation that is just not working for them, especially if you have other options.

From a logistics point of view, how did you handle having multiple children going to/moving between multiple different schools? Is the age difference such that traveling to different schools for drop off/pick up was already assumed? I admire your thoughtfulness, but the time associated with shuttling to multiple locations each day seems challenging.

That's a really good question, and reminds me that school choice was never JUST about what the kid(s) wanted. Logistics was usually part of the planning.

Usually at least two of them were in the same school. The oldest three were each 18 months part, and the youngest was three years younger than the next oldest sibling.

I took some, wife took others, ride share, public transportation (the kids in public school rode the city bus). The kids also learned to be okay with the idea that they might not get picked up as soon as school let out, or they might have to get dropped off half an hour (or more) before school started. They learned to deal with it the same way my wife and I did when we were their age.

All of which became phenomenally easier as they got old enough to drive themselves (and their younger siblings).

It was a lot of juggling, but it was still less work than homeschooling all four of them (which we did for a couple of years), and they generally didn't start going completely separate directions until they hit high school age.

This makes a lot of sense. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

Homeschool: Not a viable option for us. Both of us worked, with high salaries, but not high enough to easily forgo either income. Plus, neither of us felt qualified to teach some middle-school and many high-school level courses - so we worried about a transition from home-school into a school during adolescence.

Private: We didn't see an upside in our region. Public schools are excellent. The local private schools don't perform materially better (once you adjust for public schools being required to serve low-income and special needs students). Downtown private schools would have had an upside, but at great expense ($35k+/year) - we thought saving that money for college was a better idea.

Public - we chose to live in an area with excellent public schools (both because of the schools, but also proximity to jobs, liked the area, etc).

Public schools have their problems. But most can be mitigated by "voting with your feet", paying attention to local politics, and being actively engaged with the school.

>Public schools have their problems. But most can be mitigated by "voting with your feet"

I would like to note that this is tantamount to voting with your wallet. Areas with more expensive housing will have better public schools.

Generally true. Though when I did the math in suburban DC, living closer to the city (more expensive, better schools) wasn't any more expensive then moving outwards, once I added up gas, auto maintenance, and wasted time. Financially, close to a wash, with the added benefit of good schools. Obviously this may not be true elsewhere, and might only be true because of employment patterns in the western Fairfax area (Tyson's, Reston, Herndon).

And also said knowing full well that moving is neither easy nor cheap when a family is involved.

In USA, because they're funded by house taxes

Nah, it's the student (and parent) pool, mostly, I reckon. Selection bias, essentially. The bad lockdown-over-threats-of-violence-every-week sorts around here pay better than the good schools, by a large margin (they get more grants and such). The problem's the lockdown-over-threats-of-violence-every-week, not the money, and fixing that's a much, much bigger (and more expensive) problem than just evening out school funding. Goes like that on a sliding scale, middle-tier schools will also have a harder-to-teach population though may not be so obviously bad as the ones that are real wrecks. Usually a ton more English-as-a-second-language.

Some actual variety among the good schools where some truly are better, but the vast majority of the difference across the whole spectrum is selection bias, if we're talking graduation rates, college entrance outcomes, test scores, that kind of thing. All the usual measures.

[EDIT] point is, the main thing you're paying for is for your kid to be around other kids whose parents could also afford to pay more for housing, plus keep a couple cars running regularly to handle the commute, and so on, whatever the barriers happen to be for the district/schools in question.

Not always; in California, for example, property taxes were vitiated by Prop 13, and so the state budget covers most of education costs (60%), which in theory should mean less local variation. In practice it means schools in wealthy districts hold "bake sales" where rich parents make sizeable donations (like auctioning off their timeshare in Tahoe) to their kid's school. The result is the same - schools full of rich kids have plenty of money, schools full of poor kids don't.

We live in one of the top districts in the state, and chose our house specifically because of this, so my kids will go to the public school.

My wife was actually a teacher in the local district before we had kids, so we know how things go down.

The key is parent involvement. The more involved you are with the school, the more you'll hear about how your kid is actually doing "through the grapevine" which will give you a chance to address any issues at home.

My wife plans to volunteer most days of the week, and I will also try to go at least once or twice a week in the morning.

I know that is not suitable for everyone, because you have to have the flexibility to do that, and I know I'm very lucky that we have that flexibility.

Two kids, 16 y/o son and 18 y/o daughter. Homeschooled. Both went to Montessori pre-school and kindergarten. Daughter started 1st grade in public school and within weeks our daughter who loved school and learning was starting to dread going to school. It was no one thing and our public school wasn't particularly bad. It was death by a thousand cuts:

- The adult tending the bus line who berated our daughter when her name was called but she didn't respond because her name was mispronounced and she didn't recognize it.

- The teacher who disciplined our daughter who was an advanced reader and finished a story quickly and then offered to help another student who was struggling but this wasn't allowed in the classroom.

- The immense amount of time wasted between classes not teaching.

- The music teacher who thought young kids were incapable of learning to read sheet music and had made up his own notation system.

- The teacher who was 8 months pregnant who would shortly leave the classroom and then there would be a series of substitutes with no continuity for the students.

And on and on.

Anyway, it worked well for us. It doesn't for everyone. My wife and our kids got along well. My kids turned out to be pretty good students. We could afford it. My wife who was otherwise unemployed enjoyed it.

We leveraged a ton of external resources: joined a secular homeschool group, co-op teaching, outside language and music teachers, extension classes offered by local science museums and universities, online courses, had our kids take a yearly standardized test to measure their progress, registered with the state as a homeschool, kept diligent records, kids did summer camps, karate, dance, were on sports teams, etc. I never would have guessed how booked our calendar became. I sometimes think we would have had more time to do things as a family if they'd stayed in public school. There's this idea you can take offseason vacations but this doesn't really work out because everything else you have your kids do is tied to a traditional school calendar.

It's a huge commitment and was a full time job for my wife. My son expressed some desire to go to high school but later changed his mind.

Anyway, you can try a year of homeschool and see how it works for you. We know lots of families who did both. For some it didn't work because the parent/child relationship isn't the same as teacher/student and for some of our friends the latter just didn't work out.

Also: there are many styles of homeschooling. Some will run things just like a traditional school but at home: fixed lesson plans, schedule, room to learn in, etc. At the other end you have unschooling. We took a middle ground. My wife has a lesson plan for the year, breaks it down by week. But we give our kids flexibility on each day. As they got older my wife would just put their daily or weekly tasks on a whiteboard and leave it to them to complete:


Good luck.

1) Public can mean relocating, if you want a good district, and higher housing costs. So that sucks. Even the good ones are usually just OK, really, with some exceptions. Whole exercise is kinda horrifying, even if you have a very normal considered-good experience of it—personally I'm very uncomfortable with the basic structure of public schools. Free buses are very nice.

2) Private's often as bad or worse—just being private doesn't mean it's an improvement. Private schools often pay worse than public (total comp) so consider what sort of employee pool they're drawing from. The exceptions tend to be the "prep" variety which are less common and are eye-wateringly expensive unless you're fairly poor (most have generous scholarships) but nonetheless capable of raising a kid who the admissions folks (for whatever reason) like. If you can't afford even-more-expensive boarding schools you're probably looking at just a couple quality private schools in a given city in most cases, if any, and they may not be close to your house. Exceptions include some (only some, you gotta do your homework) Catholic schools, though you may have trouble getting in and will likely pay more if your family's not Catholic—there's a process, and you can probably fake your way in, but it'll take time and commitment and planning in advance by at least a year, I'd say, plus you gotta be comfortable, you know, repeatedly lying to clergy. If you want something that breaks out of the typical mold[1] you're either talking seminar-type classes (so, prep, expensive, and not available everywhere) or hippy-dippy might-work-for-your-kids-hard-to-say-until-you-try unschool-alike stuff (still not cheap).

3) Homeschool's wicked-expensive too if you're losing a salary for it, especially with just one or two kids. Not every parent's cut out for being home alone with the kiddos every day, all year, too. Some are, some aren't, may not figure it out until you try. Also not everyone's great at teaching though if your kids are above-average in the intelligence department it's not hard to at least do better than your average public school, given the pace they move at and the much worse instructor-to-student ratio. It's real work, though, regardless.

Exceptions all over for the above I'm sure, but that's the gist. We're doing public. I kinda hate it but the other options are out of reach for one reason or another.

[1 EDIT] by "typical mold" I mean isn't structured more or less the same as public school.

if it's an option in your area, i'd recommend looking into a waldorf school. they have a lot of strengths that american public schools lack ime. perhaps one of the most important is that children have the same teacher all the way through k-12. it's hard to overstate what a big difference that makes.

as an aside unschooling often gets neglected from the public/private/homeschool dichotomy, for certain personality types it may actually work better than the other three although i can see why it is a somewhat terrifying option to consider.

If you are thinking about a Waldorf school (or any private school, for that matter), make sure to check out the vaccination rates first.

The surveillance is less than worthless when schools are so constrained in their ability to meter out discipline. I went to one of the first surveillance schools in my state and I was bullied relentlessly, despite the video evidence the school was reluctant to suspend my attacker. This may be because my bully was black and from the hood and my school was sued by the NAACP to accept more black kids and keep the suspension rate 'racially equitable' - which amounted to different punishments depending on the race of the rule breaker.

The truth is it isn't there ability to hand it out as you would find out if you did wrong. The issue is they don't care if it doesn't go against their fucked up social order.

Archived article: http://archive.is/nD0O9

What kind of society will we live in when the generation raised in this environment is in charge?

I can see two possibile outcomes named after the stereotypical age of the reaction. The "child" outcome where it is accepted as the norm or the "teenaged" one where they tear it down and call previous generations terrible/stupid people for being responsible for it.

Essentially that seems to be the pattern of resolution of changes - sometimes applied recursively in a cyclic way. One example is baroque vs austere in church design and iconoclasm.

I am hoping for teenaged ones to gain dominance since the people who look at the surveillance and say "What the fuck is wrong with you - you are literally acting like antagonists in a young adult science fiction dystopia!" seem to be a minority in influence currently.


The paywalls on all major news sites are driving me crazy.

Not because they cost money (I am willing to pay), but because it's not practical to buy an online subscription to 10+ major news sites individually.

Is there a service that lets you pay 1 monthly fee for a subscription to the top 10 major (paywalled) news sites?

The closest you'll get is Apple News but even that won't include the entirety of the NY Times or WaPo since those publications don't want to cede control of the customer relationship with their readers.

The way that Visa got started was that a bunch of big banks decided that it was ridiculous for their customers to get credit from all the banks, and so they agreed to federate on their own.

Maybe the news orgs need to do the same thing. Create a federated login system with a single payment and then divvy up the funds in some fair way.

I know it's annoying, but please don't take HN threads on this off-topic tangent. The situation sucks, but we all know how it sucks, all these discussions are the same, and the rule here has been settled for years: if there's a workaround, it's ok. Users usually post workarounds in the thread.

This is in the FAQ at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html and there's more explanation here:



> Users usually post workarounds in the thread.

Yea.. the purpose of this comment was to ask if there's a way to pay for these paywalls to permanently bypass them.

And there were some useful replies: I haven't looked into Apple News Plus before. Thanks for the reply, jbigelow76 and runwerks

And sorry Daniel. I guess I should have posted an Ask HN instead.

apple news + seems to fit some of that.

Paying for news only rewards paywalls.

What's wrong with that? They work hard to bring you that news. They should be paid.

Journalism started dying with the abolishment of fcc fairness doctrine. The landscape of media today is abysmal, most reporting orgs are thinly masqueraded op-ed machines. They pander to their audience. The truth is what matters, not what people think about it.

If trust can be restored I will pay. I will not pay for bullshit.

The problem is that no news source is good enough to be anyone's only news source, and since most consumers don't have vendor relationship management software to keep them all straight, we can only keep track of a limited number of subscriptions, across all forms of media, regardless of what each costs in money.

Individually subscribing to 10 different paywalled news sites is not going to happen among the general public. Paying exactly the same aggregate monthly price for all ten, via just one redistributor, is more tolerable, especially if the customer can individually select subscriptions without forced bundling. Subscribe by checking this box; unsubscribe by unchecking it.

If I can sign up online, but have to cancel with at least one phone call guaranteed to last 30 minutes or more, I don't care if it's only $0.05 a month; I'm not buying it. It's not always the money cost. Sometimes it's the cognitive overhead or transaction friction. My use of the Internet lately seems to be governed more by the number of accounts I am willing to manage than by how much I am willing to pay, and the fragmentation is going to kill some of the sites that can't solve that problem.

When the NYT is in full control of its own paywall, you get nonsense like described here: https://dannysullivan.com/new-york-times-subscription-3480 [2014], where it's cheaper to buy the print version and just throw it away to get past the paywall, than to get the unlimited digital subscription. And this is likely fueled by a dark pattern: in order to get a price for print delivery, you have to call a phone number during NYC business hours, whereas you can just click to get an offer for all-digital access. It's only $8/4 weeks right now, which seems like a good money value, but I'm just not in the mood to worry about yet another website login.

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