High-Tech Truancy

, Deborah Lambert, Leave a comment

If you think that Texas is still the home of the wild, wild West, think again. This year over 6,000 children will be required to “carry microchipped ID so that the district can track their movements in school and on school buses,” according to the Future of Freedom Foundation. The reason? The Texas legislature cut state education funds, which led to a loss of over $60 million in tax dollars last year, according to KENS5, a local San Antonio TV station.

“The district loses $175,000 a day in state funding because of tardy or absent kids.… The district bean-counters expect to gain more than $250,000 in attendance revenue from the state, and $1.2 million from Medicaid, because the district will be tracking special-needs kids, too.

“The $15 replacement fee for lost cards will almost certainly be profitable as well, since children predictably lose things.

“The RFID system is a tested revenue raiser, with two other Texas school districts enjoying hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased funding after tagging children. So Northside is willing to spend $525,065 in start-up costs and $136,005 a year for administration in order to keep children from escaping its grasp. If the technology trial is successful, the district will expand the program to all of its 112 schools.

“Parents have predictably expressed concern about their children’s privacy and safety. Originally designed to track inventory and animals, RFID technology allows information to be read from a distance by radio waves without the bearer’s knowledge. Since each chip contains a unique ID number, anyone who reads the chip will know the exact location of a specific child. Parents are quite reasonably concerned about the possibility of ill-intentioned people monitoring their children’s every movement. It is notoriously easy to ‘eavesdrop’ on RFID transmissions.”

Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.


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