Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ I.D. Cards?

Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ I.D. Cards?

At Whitney Houston Academy, students wear name tags that use radio frequency technology. School personnel can pinpoint exactly where students are inside the school building. Why might this be helpful? Why do you think some people object to tracking the whereabout of students?

In “Student IDs That Track the Students,” Maurice Chammah and Nick Swartsell write:

In Texas, school finance is a numbers game: schools receive money based on the number of students counted in their homeroom classes each morning. At Anson Jones, as at other schools, many students were in school but not in homeroom, so they were not counted and the district lost money, said Pascual Gonzalez, a spokesman for the district.

“We were leaving money on the table,” he said, adding that the district expects a $2 million return on an initial investment of $261,000 in the technology at two pilot schools.

But the radio frequency identification nametags have prompted concerns from civil liberties groups and electronic privacy watchdogs, which fear a Big Brother atmosphere in Texas public schools.

But the radio frequency identification nametags have prompted concerns from civil liberties groups and electronic privacy watchdogs, which fear a Big Brother atmosphere in Texas public schools.

Matthew Simpson, a policy strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said the technology was easy to acquire, meaning people outside a school might be able to monitor a student if they obtained the student’s unique tracking number.

Mr. Simpson said the technology was originally designed for shipping goods and for cattle. “It was never intended for people,” he said.

But students and educators at Anson Jones say they are excited about the practical advantages — getting to eat lunch faster by scanning their bar codes in the lunch line, or being able to locate a child quickly in an emergency. This could be the most efficient way to track out a Fake License

Students:
Tell us how you feel about the idea of tracking students while they are in their schools. Would you welcome radio frequency technology in your school? Why or why not?

  • In what situations would it be helpful to know where students are?
  • What are other possible solutions to the roll call-related problems described in the article?
  • What do you think of Mr. Simpson’s concern that people outside of the school could track a student if they have his or her identification number?
  • In many workplaces, employees have I.D. cards that also can be swiped to make doors unlock, thus allowing managers to track when people enter and leave the building, and even when they move through certain areas like hallways and stairwells. How does tracking students compare to tracking employees?
  • Do you think these practices are necessary? Why or why not?

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