Thank you for requesting feedback about the installation of interior cameras at the high school. I am against the use of cameras. I visited the school recently to pick up my son and it was like visiting a prison. A police car often sits outside the school and upon entry a security guard directs visitors to the main office where the visitor’s drivers license is scanned and information including date of birth is collected (is this information checked against other records and kept in a database for future reference? It’s unclear). The visitor is then photographed and issued a photo pass. I found the experience oppressive Adding cameras will only add to the prison-like atmosphere. The response, of course, will be that these measures are necessary for “safety.” As with security measures at the airports I doubt that these measures increase actual safety, instead they are security theater, a play that we put on that looks like security but really is not....
When we surround our students with security we are implicitly telling them that the world is dangerous; we are whispering in their ear, ‘be afraid, do not venture out, take no risks.’ When going to school requires police, security guards and cameras how can I encourage my child to travel to foreign countries, to seek new experiences, to meet people of different faiths, beliefs and backgrounds? When my child leaves school how will the atmosphere of fear that he has grown up in affect his view of the world and the choices he will make as a citizen in our democracy? School teaches more than words in books.Tuesday I attended an lunch for international families at my five year old's elementary school. The school, like most NZ schools, is a series of buildings with no internal connections. So, kids run around between buildings pretty regularly. There's a low fence around the school property, but no real checks at the gates other than teachers having some idea of who might be parents. Visitors are asked to check in at the office; parents don't particularly bother though. And, part of the schoolyard is a short-cut from the University campus to a very good dim-sum place - I walked through pretty often even before the five year old attended.
Susan and I walked over to the building where the lunch was being held, bringing our pot-luck lunch contribution, said hello, and joined in for a pleasant lunch with other families. Nobody was checking that food was made in licensed kitchens. Nobody challenged us or checked ID. There are no metal detectors or security guards. There are no security cameras. Just peaceful people enjoying the kind of company that should be the birthright of everyone, and was common in the America of thirty years ago.
You can choose to live like this too. Sure, New Zealand is getting worse, and it's definitely worse than some parts of the US if marijuana freedom is an important part of your bundle of liberties. But NZ is starting from a much better spot than the US, and it seems to be getting worse slower than other places.
Things aren't bad enough to leave yet? Fine. Freedom's a value, but so too are other things like distance from family and wealth differentials and access to Ethiopean restaurants. But write down today some bright-line rules that you think should trigger your future exit; it's easy to acclimatize to gradual changes for the worse.