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2022 arizona governor's race

Arizona governor doesn’t like candidate’s camera proposal


PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey took a verbal swat Tuesday at a proposal by a GOP gubernatorial contender to put video cameras in every classroom in the state, saying it could lead to “predators” monitoring children.

The governor said there are “responsible things” the state can do to improve public education.

“And I think clarity and transparency on the curriculum is the way to do that,” Ducey said. And that, he said, includes having parents involved in the education of their children.

But Ducey said the plan by Kari Lake for cameras, creating recordings that would be available to parents and others is not the solution.

“We’ve got young kids in these classrooms,” he said. “We want to protect them from predators, of course.”

Lake, a former Fox 10 TV news anchor, unveiled her idea last month in a radio interview as she was talking about the controversy in the Scottsdale Unified School District. There, former board president was accused of keeping an online dossier of parents who were critical of district policies.

She said that if there is surveillance it “should be going the other way,” comparing the idea of classroom cameras to police body cameras.

The proposal drew immediate derision from two of Lake’s Republican gubernatorial hopefuls.

Former Congressman Matt Salmon issued a release saying that such a plan “would provide a ripe target for child predators and state-sponsored actors to spy on our children.” And Karrin Taylor Robson, a former member of the state Board of Regents, said it would allow schools and the government to “assemble this kind of video profile against our kids.”

Until now, Ducey, who cannot seek reelection, has sought to remain out of what has become a five-way race for the Republican nomination. All that changed Tuesday.

“I’m not going to comment on every candidate proposal over the course of time,” the governor said when asked. “But I do think there are responsible things we can do to improve public education. And I think clarity and transparency on the curriculum is the way to do that.”

The governor promised to seek legislation when lawmakers reconvene in January to promote those goals.

“That’s the right way to go,” Ducey said, though he refused to provide details.

“Parents are welcome to participate in their child's education,” the governor said, saying the key is having a good school with an involved parent. “But we want to do it through transparency in the curriculum.”

And if his message about cameras in classrooms was not clear, Ducey underscored it.

“We’ve got young kids in these classrooms,” he said. “We want to protect them from predators, of course.”

In her radio interview, she said the video from each classroom would not be livestreamed so that “creepers” could watch classroom activity.

Lake also said parents could access the videos if they are concerned about what they believe is taking place in the classroom.

“And then we could figure out what’s being taught to our kids in classrooms that would hold our schools accountable for the curriculum,” she said at the time.

Separately, Today’s News-Herald reported that Lake told members of the Conservative Republican Club of Kingman that she wants cameras, but only if they show the teachers and not the students.

Lake did not immediately return repeated messages and emails about the governor’s comments as well as asking for details on her plan, such as who would have access to the video, how long the recordings would be kept, and the cost of such a statewide program.

Lake apparently is alone among Republican gubernatorial contenders with her desire to put cameras in classrooms. On Tuesday, after Ducey’s comments, the candidates provided written statements to Capitol Media Services about the issue.

Businessman Steve Gaynor called the debate about cameras “a distraction” from issue like educational achievement.

“While I agree with parents’ concerns about what is being taught to our children, cameras won't solve our problems,” he said in his prepared statement.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee said the state needs to ensure that teachers, administrators and school boards are teaching “appropriate content” to students. But this, she said in her own statement, is not the answer.

“As a mother, I would not support big government watching over young children,” she said. “We should not be putting the privacy rights of young students at risk because of bad actors.”