Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Security Camera Brouhaha Upgraded to High Alert

Last night I wrote about the 5 'hidden' security cameras that have been installed in a high school in our small city. The cameras have yet to be turned on, and are placed in areas with a high rate of vandalism and theft. Unfortunately, our somewhat unpopular school superintendent made yet another poor judgement call and decided not to inform the teachers and students about the installation of the security equipment last summer. In fact, some of the information did leak out, and one of the school's newspapers broke the story last week that the cameras did exist, causing a big brouhaha within our community.

The best way to explain the upset is that there are two very distinct groups of people in our town. The vast majority are like me, liberal, interested in good works, not afraid of taxes or government, and willing to give up a little in order to ensure the safety of our children. The other group, a much smaller faction, are very conservative, pro war, anti government, anti taxes, and anti change. Although they are smaller, they are also much more vocal and are filled with a constant outrage against the Mayor, the Aldermen, and the town government. Every single proposed change brings out their vitriol. They freak out over garbage collection just as much as they have freaked out about the security cameras in the school. They see conspiracy behind every door. You know these folks, they have them in every city and town all over the world. Constantly pissed off, dissatisfied with anything, they scream "Big Brother" and "Impeach" at anything they disagree with.

This small minority are again the people leading the outrage against the security cameras in schools. They cry that kid's civil rights are being abused, but kids don't have civil rights as minors. That's just a fact of the American constitution, where kids are considered belongings until they are 18 and no longer minors. They scream for the superintendent to resign, they scream that the cameras must be removed, they just scream out of frustration for anything that is different, new, and challenging. The town blog is filled with posts about this, there for anyone to see. No matter what the issue, it's the same folks that post this vituperative speech. The "concerned citizen" who won't even use his own name, the guy who ran for Mayor and lost, the guy who ran for Alderman and lost, the woman who spends the vast majority of her time writing inane letters to the newspaper making bizarre accusations about anyone who disagrees with her. We know who they are because they are so vocal. They're usually dead wrong, but that doesn't matter to them. They just keep on screaming ad nauseum.

Because of these people, the local news picked up the story today. I first saw it covered by Gail Huff on the 6 am news (I know!). Boy, did she do a crappy job. She took information from the story in the student newspaper and didn't do a bit of reportage on her own. At 7 her report improved a bit, having more information, but still relying heavily on the student newspaper. The Boston Globe also picked up the story and ran with it. There was a poll on the WCVB asking whether or not cameras belonged in school. 86% of the respondents said "yes". Again proving the point that the naysayers in our city are in the vast minority, but they don't care. They keep on shouting invectives against the city leaders.

City government is a funny thing. Our small city of ~90K people is led by an unpopular Mayor and a board of Aldermen, several of whom are newly elected pushing out long time incumbents. The Mayor is unpopular for a variety of reasons, most of which I agree with. He's calling for another tax override, he's tasked with building the most outrageously expensive high school in Commonwealth history, he's caused a historic rift with the fire department, and he has a real problem with communication. He, in my opinion, deserves the reputation he's earned. The Aldermen have historically been total 'yes men' and did what the Mayor told them to. This hasn't made people happy either.

Due to the economy downturn, an increase of taxes on top of the cost of heating oil and food rising well beyond what many people can afford has taken an economic toll on the city. The infrastructure is in ruins, the streets filled with bad paving, the city owned buildings are falling apart, and there is no money to expand the schools which are bursting at the seams. Like too many towns, when the population declined after the baby boomers finished schooling, the city sold several of it's elementary schools which are now used in other capacities, including subsidized housing. Now we're experiencing a smaller, but equally challenging baby boom and the kids have no place to attend school. Building modulars brought out the screamie-meemies, who cried that modular buildings weren't good enough for the pampered kids of our city. But modulars are coming, regardless. We have no other choice.

So once again, the city is divided, albeit unequally, over a small issue blown totally out of proportion. We've got security cameras in the school. Big frigging deal. It's legal, it's not the least bit unusual, and it's going to provide a level of safety that most parents welcome. Why this made the news is beyond me. Let's face it, this isn't a huge issue on the grand schema of things. I wish the naysayers would just stop being such blowhards and calm down. But they won't. They never do.

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Blogger Daisy said...

This issue hits close to home for me. A few summers ago, our local police department wanted a group of teachers to work with them so they could do a realistic "intruder drill" in an actual school. Since participating in that training, I'm convinced; school security is #1. Our children deserve it.

27/12/07 11:08 PM  

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