Wyoming Senate committee OKs classroom cameras bill

2011-01-25T00:45:00Z 2011-01-25T08:02:52Z Wyoming Senate committee OKs classroom cameras billBy JOAN BARRON - Star-Tribune capital bureau Casper Star-Tribune Online

CHEYENNE -- A Senate committee Monday added a teacher evaluation program using classroom cameras to the list of education proposals moving through the Legislature.

Senate File 114 would establish an enhanced teacher evaluation pilot program in four school districts chosen by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill.

The bill would require use of built-in classroom cameras to record at least one unannounced class period per semester for each teacher in the district.

The Senate Education Committee voted 4-1 to send the bill to the floor of the Senate for debate.

The sponsor, Sen. Ray Peterson, R-Cowley, said the key to the program is getting parents to participate.

The bill requires that a parent selected to participate in evaluating a class attend the monthly meeting of the parent organization. The parent group also is required to report to the school board each month.

The evaluation, Peterson said, can be used to screen out inadequate teachers who move from district to district.

The evaluations can lead to pay increases for teachers or terminations for teachers who receive three consecutive failed evaluations.

"It's a framework," Peterson said.

Hill supports the bill. If the Legislature puts the focus on teachers, she said, other bills like those repealing teacher tenure and establishing accountability standards won't be necessary.

What is needed, she said, is to focus on leadership "in the buildings."

Also needed is a measure of student performance people can trust, which is not currently available, Hill said.

Kathryn Valido, president of the Wyoming Education Association, said her organization opposes the bill.

"These are public schools, and we have nothing to hide," Valido said.

Because of the federal education privacy law, school officials must get permission from parents to videotape their students, she said.

She also said nearly every class has special-needs students.

The bill, she said, has "huge, unintended consequences."

Valido also said with so many working parents, it will be difficult to find any who can devote that much time in the classroom.

Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, the committee chairman, said he wanted all education bills -- the video pilot program, teacher tenure repeal and the accountability bill -- "in the mix" for debate this session.

Also voting yes were Sens. Kit Jennings and Bill Landen, both R-Casper, and Paul Barnard, R-Evanston.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, voted no. He said the bill should have a $10 million appropriation to cover the lawsuits over invasion of privacy it will provoke.

The committee, he said, was taking a "heavy-handed, big government" approach.

Contact Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

 

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