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Posted on Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Skyline High School officials discuss adding security cameras, but critics say equipment is unnecessary

By Kyle Feldscher

Officials at Skyline High School are in the beginning stages of discussing a proposal to have security cameras installed in the school, a move critics say is unnecessary.

Ann Arbor schools spokesperson Liz Margolis said Skyline principal Sulura Jackson recently began talking with parents and students about the possibility of installing security cameras in the commons areas of the school.

Margolis said the proposal has no estimated price as of yet.

“There’s no funding set aside for this, it hasn’t come to administration at this point,” she said. “It would have to go to the board, if it got to that stage and there’s funding found and it’s determined there’s a need. But right now, (Jackson) is at the stage where she’s letting parents lead the discussion, figuring out how many parents really want this and how many parents don’t want this.”


Administrators at Ann Arbor's Skyline High School are exploring the installation of hallway security cameras, similar to this one at Whitmore Lake High School in Whitmore Lake.

File photo |

Jackson met with parents and students at a Parent Teacher Support Organization meeting Monday to speak about the proposal.

Margolis said the hallways with classrooms at Skyline were designed to have an open view so security cameras would not be needed in those areas. However, some parents have voiced concerns about cars in the parking lot being vandalized and thefts happening after school in areas other than the classroom areas, or when community assistants are not in the school, Margolis said.

Cameras would be placed only in common areas and not in restrooms, classrooms and locker rooms, Margolis said.

Michael Steinberg, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan who has twin daughters who attend Skyline, said he is organizing a campaign against the installation of cameras.

He said schools should be teaching students the value of privacy and freedom and wanted to “make sure Sky High doesn’t become Spy High.”

“Schools are supposed to use their precious resources to teach students to appreciate the freedom and privacy we have in this country, not to create a police state-like atmosphere,” Steinberg said.

Despite the opposition from the ACLU and concerned parents and students, the leader of the district’s Parent Teacher Organization Council hasn’t heard many complaints.

Martine Perreault, chairperson of the Parent Teacher Organization Council, said she has talked to only one parent about the Skyline proposal for security cameras and hasn’t gotten a sense of whether parents are for or against it.

“Nobody has been knocking down my door protesting about it,” she said.

The issue of funding might be the biggest hurdle to any installation of security cameras in the school.

Margolis said sinking fund dollars are under consideration for the project, but she isn’t certain the proposal would qualify. She said she wasn’t sure how much it cost to install cameras at Pioneer High School and Huron High School. A sinking fund is a type of millage that allows the district to pay for certain construction projects under state law.

She said Jackson has proposed hiring an extra community assistant to patrol the building after school hours, but there’s simply no money for it.

“That’s not going to be allowed in budgeting and she’s already been told that’s not going to happen,” Margolis said, adding that volunteers would not be allowed to do that type of work either.

Margolis said the majority of incidents parents have become concerned about are thefts after school when there are no community assistants to watch over the building. She said there’s been no spike in theft rates recently, something corroborated by Steinberg’s findings in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Steinberg said Skyline has had fewer than 40 thefts this year, according to documents he obtained from the district. He said there were approximately 530 thefts at Pioneer the year before security cameras were installed in that school.

“We, as a school district, have to come up with better ways to address problems than turning schoolhouses into jailhouses,” he said.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

Cameras at Skyline (or any school) cast students as people who need to be monitored and threatened through surveillance. Instead, I encourage us to treat our students as people to be trusted and nurtured. If there is theft and bullying at Skyline (or any other school), these issues need to be addressed by confronting their source not increased monitoring. Students don't steal or bully because they are unsupervised, they do these things because they have needs that are not being addressed. Let's commit resources to address these needs.

Jonathan J.-W.

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

Please, if any parents, students, or Ann Arbor community members read this and believe that cameras being installed at Skyline is wrong, for whatever reason, please let Skyline Principal Sulura Jackson know! Her official school e-mail address, a public address available on Skyline High School's open website, is: If you want to go one step further, feel free to send a letter of protest or complaint to Principal Jackson at Skyline High School. 2552 North Maple Road, Ann Arbor, MI. 48103. Please help the 1,200 students at Skyline High School and let Principal Jackson know the community cares!!!


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

Privacy is not an all or nothing thing. We need more privacy in our own homes than elsewhere, but we still deserve dignity and respect when we leave our house. This is especially true in schools because teenagers are required to be in school seven hours every day. It is cold blooded to say that if students have nothing to hide, they shouldn't mind being videotaped. What if people with the power to control your future wanted to videotape hours of your life every day? Some say that cameras are simply more eyes, but being looked at is different than being recorded. When a hall monitor watches a student, the student can look back and know who is watching. If the hall monitor acts improperly or fails to act at all, the students can complain and the school can improve. When a surveillance camera watches a student, the student has not idea who is recording her. The surveillance cameras take away the power of students and parents to monitor how the administration disciplines students. Finally, some people will say that even if the cameras catch one crime, than the increased safety of the students will outweigh any privacy concerns. What these people do not realize, is that every dollar spent on cameras is a dollar that could have been spent on a tool that actually stopped crime. At pioneer, we went through the theft reports, and the single location with the most thefts was the locker rooms. It shouldn't have been surprising, because there were no locks on any of the lockers. Students were required to bring their own, and many did not bother to do so. We told the principal that he should install locks on all the lockers, but he stayed focus on surveillance cameras without providing any evidence that they would be effective. There are many ways to reduce crime, and only some of them are degrading to students. A competent principal can find a better way to reduce crime than videotaping students against their will.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

To all in favor of installing cameras in Skyline High Installing cameras Will Not stop bullying. It will not stop bullies from sending threats to their targets nor from finding more sophisticated ways to harm their targets. The bullies that we have are Cunning and they will find out very soon how to fool the CameraS and the so called "Security" they provide. C'mon! Don't be fooled by the false sense of security that a camera brings. The money should be used on programs that Educate students about understanding and respecting others. This is a School a place where people should learn to treat each other with respect. Installing cameras to spy on others, under the illusion of protection is a big mistake. It is what totalitarian systems do to maintain 'order' and 'control' of their citizens, under the false pretense of protecting the 'weak'. That other schools have cameras does not make the practice right, only confirms that we are fooling ourselves.

Jonathan J.-W.

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 4 p.m.

@aaparent Yeah, it would be great if I COULD take a class at Pioneer or Huron but the Administration does not allow cross-enrollment. I did independent study Latin 2 my freshman year because I'd had 2 years of Latin at a private school. I was supposed to take Latin 3 last year, but because I was accelerated a year I could not take the level I needed. Going to Pioneer was never an option. We discussed options with my counselor and Latin teacher, and that was not allowed. Furthermore, I lack transportation. Not all Juniors own cars. Secondly, the reason that the principal and teachers are not discussing the BLATANT FACT that most of the thefts occur in locker rooms and un-monitored classrooms is because that would reveal a glaring flaw in their plan to install surveillance equipment in the Commons area and the hallways, because these areas clearly are not where the thefts are occurring. I feel indignation and outrage knowing that money that could be spent on my education, my teachers, and my classes could be spent on totally unnecessary and irrelevant cameras. Bureaucratic idiocies like these befoul the Ann Arbor Public School system. I had a choice of four different high schools to go to (Pioneer, Community, Skyline, Wilmington High) and I chose Skyline. Was this the right decision?

say it plain

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

@Jonathan, how awful about your classes! I understand how it must be extra frustrating for you that there would be any consideration of spending money on invasive cameras if your education is treated so cavalierly as it has. Do you mean to say that Skyline *isn't allowing you to take classes at other schools*?! Because that would be a pretty serious violation, wouldn't it? Did it somehow become a policy of Skyline to disallow students taking classes elsewhere, or did the counseling staff just try to discourage you so actively that it felt equivalent?

George Orwell

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 5:29 a.m.

Just because surveillance cameras were installed in Pioneer and Huron, does not mean they should be installed in Skyline. First, as Liz Margolis suggests in the article, Skyline, unlike Huron and Pioneer, was designed with long straight halls so community assistants can see all the way down the halls without obstructions. Second, a decision to install cameras at Pioneer was made before the students and parents had any opportunity for input; despite the outcry from the vast majority of Pioneer student and numerous parents when they learned of the plan, the dye was already cast and the organizing effort came too late. Third, the problems at Huron and Pioneer leading up to the installation of cameras dwarfed any problems that currently exist at Skyline. There was regular gang violence at Huron and over 580 reported lost or stolen items at Pioneer in the year before cameras were installed. In contrast, there have been less than 40 lost or stolen items reported at Skyline this year. Inspired by the work at Pioneer to defeat surveillance cameras, the students and parents at Seaholm High School in Birmingham organized a campaign to defeat a plan for cameras and were successful. There's no reason why surveillance cameras cannot be defeated at Skyline.

Nick Roumel

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 4:10 a.m.

As an attorney I have represented many students over the years who are victim/accused of bullying or assaults in the schools with cameras. I have also known many students who were victim of theft. Not once (in my experience) has a camera helped catch perpetrators. Not once! In one particular case, the assaulter knew exactly which stairwell didn't have camera coverage to accomplish his deed. So, why: (1) lull students and staff into a false sense of security? (2) install cameras when there is no evidence it deters crime or aids in enforcement? (3) spend the damned money that we don't have, on something not shown to be effective? The saddest comments to me are the people who simply shrug, because their rights have already been eroded to the point where they don't care so much about another intrusion. It's one thing to accept limits on our rights when there's a tangible return. It's quite another when you trade off your rights for a pig in a poke.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

I am a student at Skyline High School, and I oppose the surveillance cameras completely. I have done research about school surveillance cameras, and here are my main reasons for opposing them: 1. As a student at Skyline, I feel the effect every time a new rule is implemented. Surveillance cameras will create a terrible environment, and make kids more hostile to the faculty and to each other. I believe this environment could actually further a bullying environment. 2. Not only will the cameras not stop bullying of LGBT kids, but they send the complete wrong message. I wholeheartedly think bullying at Skyline needs to stop, but instead of spending so much money and getting a result of angry kids, Skyline should accept offers it has been giving to host anti LGBT bullying seminars, and teach kids to accept one another instead of simply moving their bullying to remote areas. 3. Statistics show that the cameras would actually bebe able see very little of the "lost or stolen" items. They have not shown to be effective, and are a waste of scarce money. 4. Columbine and other school shooting have been mentioned as incentive to use cameras. Columbine High School had surveillance cameras- clearly it did nothing to stop this violence. In fact, it may have helped to foster a negative environment that fueled the anger. When children, teachers, or outsider have the intent to kill, cameras will do nothing to stop them. Maybe more time should be spent finding the roots of these problems than finding ineffective ways to stop them when it is already too late.

George Orwell

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

Nobody wants fights or thefts in school, but surveillance cameras would have little impact on either at Skyline. According to school district records, there have been 37 lost or stolen items at Skyline this year -- mostly cell phones and iPods that were last seen in the locker rooms, classrooms or other areas where there would be no cameras. Also, the administration and school police officer were able to identify the participants in every one of the handful of fights at Skyline this year. That is because fights usually happen in front of lots of witnesses when tempers flare. The studies of surveillance cameras in this country and in the U.K. show that they have little or no impact on crime; at most the crime is displaced. There were surveillance cameras at Columbine and Virginia Tech. when the tragedies happened there, but they did nothing to prevent them. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples across the county of surveillance cameras being abused to monitor relationships or for racial profiling. Most importantly, if we teach our kids that surveillance is normal, are they going to care when surveillance cameras are placed in their neighborhood so the government can monitor who visits their house or what they are doing in their front yards? (Ypsilanti Township is starting to install surveillance camera in neighborhoods now and they already exist in Lansing neighborhoods). If safety is our sole concern, should we have metal detectors and armed guards at the entrances and drug-sniffing dogs patrolling the halls? (Other schools take that approach.) In this time of budget cuts when the schools are likely to be forced to lay off teachers and eliminate programs, it seems like a gross misuse of resources to buy surveillance cameras in order to create a prison-like atmosphere for students -- especially when they will do little to stop theft or fights.

Michael Appel

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

I was one of the Skyline parents at the PTSO meeting who spoke against installation of the cameras. I want to first alert readers to a misleading statement by Ms. Margolis. Principal Jackson is certainly letting parents speak to her about the cameras, and maybe she's seeing how many are supportive and how many oppose installation--but Ms. Jackson was very direct with those of us at the meeting. She intends to submit a proposal for installation of security cameras. While I am sure there are aspects of the proposal that can be influenced by these discussions, it's simply inaccurate to leave readers with the impression that the Skyline leadership hasn't already decided to move forward. Whether they will be successful depends on funding, a decision by the school board, etc.--but from a policy point of view, they have already decided. Those of us who oppose the cameras have a variety of reasons--but I think they mostly boil down to a judgement that the security benefits the cameras might produce (camera advocates didn't claim they generally prevent the kind of incidents occurring in our schools so much as they might help in the investigation phase after something happens) do not justify the further intrusion of surveillance throughout our public spaces. Metal detectors might also prevent some incident in the future, but I don't believe we're suggesting they are needed at our public high schools. If we can continue to maintain Skyline as a place with a relatively low rate of crime compared to the other high schools (so far, so good) through education, building community and creating a culture of responsibility, isn't that preferable?

Ruth Kraut

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

In other communities, surveillance cameras have been used to "out" LGBT students and to harass racial minorities. Once the cameras are there, they can be used in all kinds of ways that they shouldn't be. I don't want cameras because: a. I don't believe safety is a problem at Skyline. The number of "crimes" is quite low. In fact, at the Skyline PTSO meeting, I got the impression that crime rates at Pioneer did not drop after cameras were put in--they either stayed the same or actually went up. b. I don't believe that cameras will stop bullying--I do believe they will push bullying into more remote areas and make it harder to catch. c. We are trying to cut millions of dollars from the AAPS budget. So let's not spend money on something that is not essential. d. I don't need "Big Brother" in my children's or my life--but they don't have a choice about going to school. Rather than alleging that there is a problem, when there isn't a problem, I wish the Ann Arbor schools would be data-driven in their actions. I think the data will show that there is no problem. So therefore, let's keep Sky(line) High from turning into (Spy)line High.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.

Great points, @aaparent! I think Skyline parents and students have been patient with the school's getting "to the same place" in development as Pioneer and Huron because we understand that this has been a growing process for the school, but there are some important and (as I understand it anyway) not well discussed 'problems' for Skyline's students having the same resources as the other schools. Skyline students, as I understand it, have been discouraged from trying to take classes at the other schools, in part because of how Skyline is ALONE among the highschools in its trimester system. Even if the issues with counselors and course offerings get corrected, and kids don't face the usual barriers non-Community-high students face in getting help, rather than hindrance, from counseling staff as they try to get the courses/education they feel is right for them, Skyline students will continue to deal with barriers to using the AAPS resources fully so long as they are on a different scheduling system with trimesters! I don't know if Skyline is serving as a demonstration project in that regard, or what, but I recall talk about all the schools going to trimesters, and that has not seemed to pan out lol! If there is opposition to the idea generally in AAPS, perhaps we can get it worked out one way or another now, what with the new "superwoman" superintendent and all! On surveillance, perhaps *that* was supposed to be a demonstration project too, to *not* use them! If it wasn't, it was probably just a last-minute budget cut for Skyline only. After all, Skyline was built *just* as all the population and property-values projections were starting to fail, and so getting those little extra expenses like, say, computers in some cases, and oh, say, TEACHERS for offering electives and APs and that small matter when considering a new comprehensive high school--never mind security cameras!--were starting to look prohibitive.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

The commenters are supplying more information about theft and other incidents than the news story. Jonathon J brings up great points, but why is an 11th grade student informing the public about the thefts in the locker rooms and pointing out a flaw for proposed camera placement? I commend Jonathon for posting but this information should be coming from the principal or teachers. The two other high schools offer AP Latin and other AP courses. Couldn't Skyline kids who want to take AP Latin arrange their schedule to bus or drive over to Pioneer or Huron like Community kids do? The other two main high schools have security cameras. I thought when Skyline was built (putting aside whether that should have happened) that it was a priority that all three main high schools be equal in basic offerings, including security equipment and/or curriculum?

G. Orwell

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

That is really great! Schools in AA are short on funds yet want to install surveillance cameras to acclimate our young to being surveilled like sheep. We now have surveillance cameras at intersections, TSA groping and radiation chambers to see our naked bodies, illegal wiretapping, drones now patrolling inside the U.S. What's next? The state is creating an Orwellian nanny/police state. Done gradually so people are not alarmed. If there isn't a huge opposition, school authorities will find the fund (our tax money) to install the cameras. Using our own money to enslave us. They always find funds for such things but cannot find funds to add teachers. Schools in Chicago just outlawed sack lunches so children are now forced to eat unhealthly school lunches. I guess I will won't be sending my child to Skyline next year.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

Hmmm Mr ACLU didn't know from precedent that students don't necessarily get the same rights and privileges on school property? New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser (1987) Board of Education of Independent School District #92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls (2002) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> We won't eve mention how certain rights of mine don't exist there except under certain circumstances...


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

Kyle -- The principal of the school is discussing this with parents presumably because as the leader of this school, she sees a need for greater security? You quote Liz Margolis as explaining that Ms. Jackson is getting parent input, but did you ask Ms. Jackson what security problems there are at the school that cameras would help solve? I am not opposed to cameras if they help, but do not understand after reading this article why there is increased concern now. Other than the parking lot issues, what is happening at Skyline to raise concern? Also, is Liz Margolis suggesting that if parents want security cameras, they should fundraise to get them installed since it's not in the budget? Does the superintendent's salary package of $245 k/year and benefits, according to Don Bee, totalling $325 in value tie up funds that could be used to improve security at all the high schools, (camera issue at Skyline aside for a minute) -- what are the priorities and agenda driving this school district?

Jonathan J.-W.

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

Speaking as a Skyline junior, the MAJORITY of thefts happen in the un-monitored locker rooms and in un-monitored classrooms. Irresponsible students sometimes leave their iPod, or their cellphone, or calculator, or other expensive electronic device out in plain sight and it's taken. Of the 40-odd thefts (which is a pretty low figure for a school of 1,200 students), NONE OF THEM have happened in the Commons area, or in many of the areas that Principal Jackson proposes to install surveillance equipment. Cameras in locker rooms, where most of the thefts occur, would be an immense violation of privacy. Is this really about curbing thefts at Skyline? Thefts would continue to occur in the locker rooms and in un-monitored classrooms. This is about control, intimidation, and monitoring students. Furthermore, the school should not be spending unnecessary funds on security cameras when there's such a pertinent need in curricular areas. I don't even know what classes I'm taking Senior Year because the administration HASN'T DECIDED WHICH CLASSES THE SCHOOL CAN AFFORD TO OFFER. The Skyline Theatre program was cut 66% and will likely face another cut. Many elective courses in the arts and humanities have also been completely eliminated. I can't take AP LATIN (and I want to be a Classics major in college) partly because the school is so cash--strapped. Principal Jackson should be a fiscally responsible leader, and put the scarce funds into EDUCATION-- not INTIMIDATION.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Thanks for speaking to these issues, @Jonathan J.-W., I appreciate your perspective, and agree that Skyline has been struggling with issues related to being a new school, with so very much still in the air in terms of teaching staff and program funding, during a terrible crisis time for AAPS schools. It makes the tongue-in-cheek suggestion about cameras to monitor what the new Superintendent is going to do to earn a salary increase when we can't work out who is going to teach what classes at our high schools seem very reasonable indeed! Skyline's staff and teachers and students have been remarkable imho, but yes, we are struggling in a very obvious way because of the budget issues! I wish we could spend less money on athletics too, given how much we're losing as a school-system on academics in the face of all these cuts! If Skyline won't let you take AP Latin then I hope at least the counselors will facilitate your taking a college-level class at UM or EMU or somewhere, or conduct your own independent study for credit. We need maximum flexibility in these difficult times. And more straight-up scoop with us all about these little 'issues' regarding staffing and scheduling would also be appreciated! I think Skyline is trying really hard, and I want to fully support teachers and administrators there because there seems to be real effort to make it all work, but there'd also been a good amount of apparent &quot;problems&quot; with scheduling and glossing over these doesn't really serve anyone well...


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

Oh please! Is Mr Steinberg's / childrens' civil liberties being violated every time they use an ATM or walk into CVS? There's cameras everywhere, not just in high schools. He might want to consider the possibility that the cameras might actually help keep his darling dauthers safe (and keep them out of trouble too!) I think some people like to complain just to complain.

Sharon GS

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:29 a.m.

I respect your right to your viewpoint. I take offense, however, at the sarcastic and demeaning tone with which you refer to my daughters. As quite capable and intelligent young women I trust them to keep themselves safe and from getting in &quot;trouble&quot; (without the help of cameras). After reading your post I have much greater concern about protecting them from the disrespect in this dialogue than from any dangers in their school.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

I say put security cameras in the new $245,000+/year AAPS Superintendent's office with a live feed so the public can log in to see what our new Wonder Woman will be doing to earn her exorbitant salary.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

If the kids acted responsibly there would not be a need for cameras. Unfortunately many of our fine students do not act responsibly so there is a need for cameras. Their actions are not the fault of the schools or teachers but rather the lack of parental accountability and guidance. Far too many of our kids lack respect, values and common courtesy which is a reflection on their parents.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

They should mount the EYE OF SAURON atop that useless windmill. It already spins around, and it would justify all the money we spent on that thing.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

I love that DNA strand, c'mon! ;-) Was the line-item expense for it city-hall-fountain like?! Can't we just get a bunch of those harriett-carter catalog faux-cameras and use those for their deterrent effect?!

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

I agree @Kris Kaul that Skyline is not &quot;progressive&quot; *enough* in its approach to educating our kids. But this is a function of our overall education system as much as anything, as you point out, and I *do* see how Skyline is attempting to build a better culture, with certain aspects of their approach to programming and to kids' feeling part of a community of learners and cultivating more positive-affiliation-vibes from everyone. My child feels it, even as he also, I think, feels the performance-pressure and yes the rules-and-guidelines-setting that comes from the tight-scheduling and the frequent-testing and the varied-past-experiences-with-schooling of everyone there. But, in opposition to what you seem to be saying about 'underprepared' children, I think that some of this scene might be exactly right for preventing kids from leaving highschool 'underachieving', shouldn't it? I'd want the kids to feel safe, and feel welcomed, and feel valued, and feel challenged to do their best. I'd love more freedom to engage in one's interests and carve one's own path, and I hope Skyline and *all the high schools* in town can continue to work on improving such opportunities (like more CHS-style CRs), but lets face it--the alleged 'progressiveness' of Community comes in part from the progressive (ha) weeding out of unmotivated students via the 'magnet school' ability to kick out the kids with 'bad attitudes' about school and about their fellow students and about life in general. And there's some reason to believe that for some kids there who do fine there is nonetheless a little bit of 'underpreparedness' fostered by 'freedom' . I agree that we need to go waaaay back in schooling life to change some of the baggage kids come to high school with, and that programs which help kids to develop positively and individually and feeling supported rather than scorned or stifled should be the 'norm' instead of 'weird'.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 1:53 a.m.

I agree with everything you've said. It's hard to argue the pros and cons of a &quot;fix it now&quot; type of response when the actual solution is much, much harder and will require much greater rethinking about education starting at an early age. I, too, hope we are moving in a progressive direction, however incrementally, and perhaps, given the overall culture of schooling that's in place, it's infeasible to wish for more. But I also remember having these same discussions and thoughts fifteen years ago, when my children were just beginning (or not yet in) school, and it doesn't feel like anything substantial has changed relative to the magnitude of change needed. In fact, in some ways we have moved backwards. This makes me wonder whether faith in incremental change is warranted, and how to help change occur faster.

Jon Saalberg

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Nothing like turning our schools into prisons. Let's see - armed law enforcement personnel present? Check. Security cameras? Check. Educating our children? Hmm. Last fall, I witnessed a plainclothes policeman rousting kids at lunchtime at Pioneer. Is that what our schools have become? Locked down campuses, where fear runs rampant, and teenagers learn that they are not to be trusted? And yes, I have teenagers - in fact, two.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

time to get your head out of the sand


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Yep. The cops had nothing better to do that day than &quot;roust&quot; a group of kids at Pioneer. I am sure they were discussing Shankespeare when the poilce happened by. As the father of two teenagres. you would be the first to scream bloody murder if anything ever happened to them at school.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

Jon - Huron High School was the first to install security cameras after a push from parents/guardians/students. The cameras cut down on a significant amount of misbehavior (girls being inappropriately groped during crowded class period passing times, loitering in the athletic building, harassing other students, trashing the hallways... the list goes on). The majority of teens at Huron are great kids, but there are students who don't respect property or people unless they are reminded that Mom and Dad are watching. Teachers and parents can't be everywhere at all times and the cameras installed at Huron turned out to be a very positive thing. So it's not so much about what our schools &quot;have come to&quot; (the high school I attended so many years ago had even more serious issues), but it's about making sure ALL students are safe, secure, and free to receive an excellent education.

Tony Livingston

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

Pioneer went through this same thing 4 years ago. Cameras were proposed, parents and students objected, the cameras were installed and today are a non issue. I am quite certain that Skyline will follow the same pattern.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

thanks for providing the data on *when* Pioneer had cameras installed ;-) that's useful!


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

I'm not sure what's &quot;weird&quot; or different about Skyline. As the parent of a student there, I can attest to the fact that Skyline is as rule-bound and boot-camp-like as any of the other public high schools, with the exception perhaps of Community. It is very hard as a parent to see the way in which students must struggle to fit into the time-obsessed, test-driven, harried environment that is &quot;school&quot;. Installing surveillance cameras in response to students treating each other without compassion or understanding - as individuals - is short-sighted and does not address the problem, merely makes it easier in a few cases to catch the perpetrator - all the while increasing the sense of school being a prison. As a society, we are sending a significant proportion of our children out of high school unprepared, under-achieving, and feeling hostile to the system the school (supposedly) represents. We need to start much earlier in addressing this problem, and reflect on what it says about how we are educating our children.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

and also, @dagnyJ, what makes you think the program at skyline is 'weird' lol? They've tried to instill good community culture instead of running either a free-for-all or a military-style regimented school, gee, what makes for the dismissive vibes?!

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

where are you reading about the problems with fights and such at skyline @dagnyJ? please share, readers would like to know!


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

What's the deal with Skyline and all this bad behavior among kids? I know parents like to think the school is the holy grail, but I keep reading about problems over there with fights, bullying, etc. Maybe cameras are a good idea. Maybe the weird, open-school kind of programs aren't the best idea.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

@DagnyJ, All schools have kids who have bad behavior. Skyline has way less than Huron and Pioneer. It might seem like Skyline has more because the press is keeping an eye on Skyline since it's a new school. The places where fights, bullying, etc happen is in the locker rooms, bathrooms, and classrooms which can't have cameras so there is really no point in having cameras. They should spend that money on getting more classes. The only place that should have some cameras if they decide to add them is the parking lot. People drive too fast there and people almost get run over after school. @say it plain, Skytime only meets once every FULL week of school. Right now we are only meeting about once every 2-4 weeks. Students get most of the information about what's going on in the school during Skytime. During Skytime, we usually start with the Student Action Senate representative telling everyone what we are planning for them and what the administrators want to do in the next couple weeks. I am expecting a big discussion about this when we have our next meeting. The magnet classes have many courses that everyone can take as an elective so the whole school does benefit from it.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

@Tony Livingston, I think that Skyline definitely tries at least to be more 'open' in their orientation. And I think they succeed at some levels, fall short at others. They have tried to reproduce a little of the idea from CHS of &quot;forum&quot; with their &quot;skytime&quot; idea--which is a sort of homeroom group of various grade kids and an 'advisor' that ideally would be a kind of 'base' group for the students throughout their time in highschool. But this gets scheduled out of their week *a lot*, and while it does involve them in some kinds of community-building, a lot more could be done with it, imho. It's a good idea, though, and I hope it gets continued and reproduced at other schools. And they have 'small learning communities' which is also a great idea that more can be done with (so far I'm not seeing scheduling fully take advantage of these 'smaller schools within a school'). Plus they have 4 'magnet' programs that I have mixed feelings about because it remains to be seen whether the entire school benefits from their existence or only the 'lucky' few who win the lottery to get in. They truly need to improve the quality of their guidance counseling, as do *all* the schools except CHS, but otherwise I see some real efforts made to try something different for highschool life in AAPS. This isn't what many (me included!) people would have chosen to do with the money we spent on Skyline as a community--I'd have rather fully met the demand for small progressive schools like CHS used to be, and made these more self-contained rather than pretending they can be little satellites scavenging the resources of the big schools as desired lol--but I think it was at least a nod to the desire for more 'open' programs in AAPS!

Tony Livingston

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Does Skyline have a weird, open-school kind of program? I haven't heard that about Skyline, only CHS.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

My son has told me of a number of his friends having their cars keyed. He worries about it happening to his. He also had a gang of five kids try to start trouble and I happened to pull up in time to thwart the attack. My older son was attacked at Pioneer pre-camera and had his jaw broken. We're so worried about protecting these punks that we're willing to ruin the schools. No wondering people choose private schools. Sulura Jackson has been doing a good job and would be wise to install cameras. Let's give her the support she needs if this goes forward'. We owe it to our kids.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

I don't want to protect punks, just for the record. If things are getting problematic then I would surely support installing cameras, but I'd like there to be at least some consideration of how we might avoid it.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. We never think the worst will happen to us, and we really hope that it never does, but that doesn't stop bad things from happening. Consider places like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and SuccessTech Academy. The tragedies that occurred there [and other places as well ... most recently in Brazil] are captured in images that should be burned into your memories forever. IF a school shooting happens at your school, and the school and law enforcement community can utilize the surveillance systems to identify and locate the active shooters, how many parents are going to stand up and complain about the &quot;overt presence of the administration&quot; or &quot;the waste of funds?&quot; How many parents at the schools where these tragedies occurred--after the fact--do you think complained about the cost of having surveillance systems or SSO's on site? More common scenarios like petty theft, bullying (which, by the way was one of the contributing factors to Columbine...), molestation [groping and grabbing], and assault--which when captured on video are accurate portrayals of the events and are far better references than relying upon s/he said vs. s/he said, or even the recall of witnesses. Some parents are complaining about a lack of trust, but it isn't just our children that we have to trust. Anyone who enters the building should expect scrutiny--in person as well as through electronic means--because they are interacting with those that we hold most dear. In the best case scenario, you have the surveillance system and it never gets referenced. In the worst case scenario, you have a technological tool at your disposal to aid in helping to keep our children safe. Let me ask this: how many of you have fire extinguishers in your home? How often have you used it? Do you bemoan the cost of having one because it pretty much never gets used? Or do you keep one on hand because you are hoping for the best but have planned for the worst


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

And if the Martians land and visit Skyline, the cameras will get proof of that as well. Grow up! School shootings are extremely rare - high school children are more likely to die from lightning or drowning than being shot.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

We really don't have an alternative to adding security cameras to Skyline since continued budget cuts to fire and police personnel in the city of Ann Arbor require more remote policing.

Urban Sombrero

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

If the other two high schools have the cameras, why is it such a big deal for Skyline to get them, too?

George Orwell

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

Just because surveillance cameras were installed in Pioneer and Huron, does not mean they should be installed in Skyline. First, as Liz Margolis suggests in the article, Skyline, unlike Huron and Pioneer, was designed with long straight halls so community assistants can see all the way down the halls without obstructions. Second, a decision to install cameras at Pioneer was made before the students and parents had any opportunity for input; despite the outcry from the vast majority of Pioneer student and numerous parents when they learned of the plan, the dye was already cast and the organizing effort came too late. Third, the problems at Huron and Pioneer leading up to the installation of cameras dwarfed any problems that currently exist at Skyline. There was regular gang violence at Huron and over 580 reported lost or stolen items at Pioneer in the year before cameras were installed. In contrast, there have been less than 40 lost or stolen items reported at Skyline this year. Inspired by the work at Pioneer to defeat surveillance cameras, the students and parents at Seaholm High School in Birmingham organized a campaign to defeat a plan for cameras and were successful. There's no reason why surveillance cameras cannot be defeated at Skyline.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

Are they talking about adding cameras to the parking lots, where it is claimed parents have concerns about thefts from cars? After school swiping from perhaps unlocked cars at a high school sounds like AAPD might be able to 'watch' as part of any community policework effort, no? Let's keep the &quot;Skyline difference&quot; going and *not* join the trend of not trusting our teens (double negative intended ;-) ); let's continue showing them that this is a community and we all treat each other with respect and care and don't need to extend a police state. I'm sorry about A22Ypsi's experience with AAPS, but I think Skyline seems to be avoiding that scene so far and hope it can continue, with the continued building of good school culture and with staying on top of interpersonal dynamics, keeping them positive as possible. Let's let tight budgets help us continue that attempt at communities without surveillance cameras!


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 10:32 a.m.

&quot;Skyline High School officials discuss adding security cameras, but critics say equipment isn't unnecessary . . .&quot; Oops . . . Double negative in headline . . .


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 11:19 a.m.

But not on the main page link to the story. Geez...

David Martel

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 11:04 a.m.

a2grateful - the double negative has been fixed. Thanks.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 10:20 a.m.

Mr. ACLU values the right of bullies to fight and steal over the right of all students to be safe and secure at school. Why the heck would there be any expectation of privacy for students in public common areas within public school buildings? Hall monitors, teachers, staff, and students can watch you there, but temporary storage of surveillance footage that is used only in case of an incident is an invasion of privacy? I graduated from the AAPS just a few years ago and plenty of horrible things were happening in the hallways, usually to the more vulnerable kids (small/weak/shy/LGBT/loners/special needs/etc.) The teachers stayed cooped up in their classrooms because they'd be responsible for assisting if they saw a problem. The hall monitors turn a blind eye, even to big fights, because they're buddy-buddy with certain groups of students who happen to spend most of the school day loitering in the hallways.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

My daughter currently attends Skyline. Fights are very low in AAPS in comparison to other schools.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 10:52 a.m.

Of course when people know where the cameras are they just more their horrible behavior out of the field of view. I'm surprised there are not already cameras there. That's a big place. Maybe they can come up with some rules about when the footage would be tapped. For example only when a crime is being investigated and not for every truant student.