Texas school district to track kids through RFID tags

A San Antonio district is so concerned that it can't keep tabs of its kids that it has decided to insert RFID tags into their IDs. This will, apparently, save money, as well as help the counting process.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It seems that certain schools in Texas are having trouble with their math.

No, it isn't the kids. It's the school administrators. They keep losing kids. And, well, state funding depends, at least to some extent, on attendance.

So Northside Independent School District in San Antonio has decided to insert a little technology into the problem. For it intends to insert RFID chips into the kids' IDs, so that it will know precisely where little Chet is at all times.

I am grateful to the San Antonio Express-News for expressing this development, one that might cause some to pause.

The school's logic appears to be quite simple. These darn kids keep disappearing and that's costing them money. They need to be counted at the beginning of every sunny day. And you never know what kids are going to get up to anyway.

So, beginning with John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School, the district will implement its new chips.

"We want to harness the power of (the) technology to make schools safer, know where our students are all the time in a school, and increase revenues," school district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told the Express-News.

It does seem a shame that money is mentioned in all of this. One might have been able to understand it if this was purely a safety issue, but clearly it isn't. Indeed, in Houston, two school districts already enjoy this technology and it has reportedly brought them hundreds of thousands of extra dollars.

The Northside district, Kens 5 News says, loses $175,000 a day because of late or absent kids.

Parents appear to be divided on the issue. One can surely understand misgivings. The school district says that tags will only work when the children are on school property.

However, after cases such as the one in Philadelphia were a school was sued for allegedly spying on a student off-campus (the school settled for around $600,000), some parents will surely be concerned that the kids will be snooped upon.

It's not as if this sort of tagging offers absolute security. What if an ID is stolen? What if the system is hacked and someone with evil purpose can quite literally track the movements of all the kids?

At heart, though, this does seem to be more about money than safety. Education cuts are causing some schools to find new ways to find revenue. I wonder if there hadn't been a financial incentive for the schools, would they have bothered?

 

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