While technology has undoubtedly made being a student at least a tad bit easier than in years past, it's provided school systems new ways to manage those students. John Jay High School in San Antonio, TX recently instituted a new program wherein each student must wear an ID card embedded with with a traceable radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip around their neck during school hours.
Some students, of course, have raged against the machine by refusing to wear the ID cards. More power to 'em. Fight the power. Especially when the penalty for not doing so is not in the least bit serious. Kids who discard the cards don't get detention or threatened with suspension—they lose the privilege to vote for Homecoming king and queen. That's it. Since my only experience with Texas has been via TV shows like Friday Night Lights, I'm going to assume that voting for Homecoming royalty is a big deal in the Lone Star state.
The program is currently scheduled to be a one-year test and will cost Texas's Northside Independent School District $261,000. If the program works and the school district is able to raise its attendance numbers, it could collect around $2 million in state funding. John Jay faculty told parents before the program began that the ID cards would store no personal information and would only work when the student is on campus. "This is a non-threatening technology," said Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. “This is not surveillance.”
Some privacy activists and the American Civil Liberties Union ain't buying it. The ACLU has called for an end of the use of tracking technology on students and plans to challenge the system.
And we thought truancy officers were bad.