Wednesday, August 29, 2012

San Antonio schools to track students with RFIDs in ID cards

As if turning your cell phone into a GPS tracker isn't bad enough, at North Side ISD in San Antonio they're doing the same thing with student ID cards. Via a new-to-me blog called Catfish for Lunch (named, flatteringly, as an homage to this site), I discovered the following notice:
School’s back in session, so we start this week’s roundup with Papers, Please!’s report that the San Antonio Public Schools Plan to Make Students Wear Radio Tracking Beacons.  The school district interested in using these ID chips is calling them Smart Student ID Cards.  If you’re wondering what to think about this, here is EPIC’s Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools.
The blog Papers, Please! reported that two NSISD schools have each:
installed an array of “100 or more” RFID readers so that students’ movements can be tracked whenever and wherever they are on school premises. ... To make sure students actually carry their RFID badges, they’ll have to use them for all purchases of school lunches as well as for mandatory attendance checks.
This is not just Big-Brotherish but stupid, as if kids won't readily carry around other students' ID cards so their friends can sneak away. Calling them "Smart Student ID Cards" is outright Orwellian. Just because schools choose to treat students like cattle doesn't mean they're as dumb as the average bovine. The school district says the two campuses in question were chosen for the pilot project because they "have a high rate of truancy and tardiness," but the RFID scheme won't assist at stopping those problems, but merely document them. And in cases where students carry each others' ID cards as a ruse, it may even mask them.

IMO, nobody benefits from this but the vendor.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's for dinner?

jimbino said...

To defeat RFID, all the students need to do is keep their IDs in an envelope made of aluminum, tin or copper foil, making a "Faraday cage" that lets no RF enter.

A good thing to keep passports in, as well.

Vincent van Gogh said...

Attendance is the main thrust behind the RFID chips in the student IDs. If the students carry each others IDs or keep them in a container that defeats the reader from counting them, it would seem the money spent here would not be worth it. As far as tracing the students movements inside the school there are already cameras everywhere in every school and on the school grounds that do that already.

School administrators have long been responsible for knowing exactly where each student is at any time of the day. Not only while the student is in school but, on field trips or at any school function outside the school. The school district is responsible for every child in their care until that child is home or with the parents. If a parent come to the school to take their child out, administrators can not say, "Oh well, be patient we'll have to find him/her for you because, right now we don't know where they are. They are supposed to know exactly where that child is at all times when they are in the school district’s care. So, knowing the whereabouts of each child is already something that is being done with or without an RFID chip.

Anonymous said...

This could work on at least two levels. The kids get to skip school and the schools get to claim higher attendance for state and federal funds.

peth said...

I'd tie mine to the janitor. It would be a good little student but stay in one room all day

doran said...

Vincent, not all school students are children. The reasons you state for keeping track of every "child" have some validity when applied to -- say, grades K through 9, but for 9 through 12, those reasons won't stand close analysis.

Force Majeure said...

Doran, you may be sociologically correct,but legally you are wrong. Grades nine to twelve? Definitely still kids!

doran said...

Force: A high school junior or senior may be a "kid" but probably not a "child." And in some cases certainly not, because they could well be past the age which the Lege has chosen as the cut-off date for the definition of "child." And of course, "kid" is not a term that has any legal significance at all.

What I'm suggesting is that it is unrealistic to apply the North Side ISD thinking in such a broad manner. Grades in high school can and should be treated differently than the lower grades. Vincent's comments indicate why the thinking and logic of school administrators needs to be -- well, re-thought:

"The school district," writes Vincent, "is responsible for every child in their care until that child is home or with the parents." I don't think so. What about the students who drive their own vehicles to school? Or those who go from school directly to an after-school job? Or those who have babies of their own and go to some place after school to be with their own babies other than "home with the parents"? And what about married students? Jeeze, they are already emancipated and considered to be adults.

Basically, the North Side ISD is really doing a bureaucratic CYA operation. And it is just easier from a bureaucratic perspective to paint with a too-broad brush than it is to make a rule that deals with students as individuals rather than as a herd of cattle.

Anonymous said...

I'd just place my ID inside the cover of an unpopular book in the library and then take off. Someone wants to know where I am? I'm in the library.

Anonymous said...

Or hand my ID to a friend who has the same schedule as I. If they are relying on this technology for attendance records, I'm always there.

Phillip Baker said...

Clearly this is not a well thought out idea. I hope they did not squander too much cash on this loser.

But van Gough, systems successfully account for their charges without being able for any given staffer to know exactly where that person is at any given moment. I've worked in prisons and know that nobody knows exactly where any given inmate is at any specific time. They know where he is supposed to be. but their are many variable- unscheduled clinic visit, in transit between dorm unit and work place. Etc. And if prisons cannot give an instaneous account of the exact whereabouts of prisoners, do you seriously think schools can. Even if that goal were desirable, which is open to discussion.

Petra de Jong said...

Why not just implant them under the skin? At least that way, it'll work. Geesh! :P

On a more serious note - just plain stupid.

Anonymous said...

This week NYC softens discipline code in schools. Finally some common sense. Maybe this policy will take hold across the country.

Anonymous said...

Whatta ya wanna bet someone's brother-in-law sells all this fine gadgetry? Well, that, and/or there are some "rebates" and/or "commissions" involved?

Anonymous said...

Hey Grits,
My son just started middle school in Northside ISD and I have to confess when this was announced at the parent night it didn't bother me at all.

Bill Bush

jimbino said...

Hey Anonymous,

You're the guy who also mutilated his atheist son's pecker at birth, right?

The Fishing Physicist said...

Ha! There’s a connection here with red light cameras. Companies offer tech solutions that are highly flawed but sound ‘high tech’ to potential purchasers. Profit $$$!