Texas Schools Tracking Student Location with RFID

    September 14, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

In “whoa buddy, I’m not so sure about that” news, one Texas school district is in the process of implementing a new way to ensure student safety and make sure that kids are where they need to be while on campus. At least, that’s what they say. Others may call it a giant mandatory student tracking program.

San Antonio school district Northside ISD is implementing new technology called “Smart” Student ID Cards. What’s so smart about them? Well, they contain RFID chips. And those RFID chips can transmit location information to the school administrators, meaning that they will know the exact whereabouts of every student, all the time.

I’m sure you’re sensing an impending controversy. One student and her father have been protesting the new program. ““It makes me uncomfortable. It’s an invasion of my privacy,” said Andrea Hernandez.

“With a smart phone you can use the option to use your locator, but this I can’t turn it off.”

She’s right. The RFID chip will be planted inside the student ID card, which students will be required to wear around their necks with a lanyard. The rules stipulate that students must wear the ID at all times while at school, and they are forced to pay a $15 fee for a replacement ID, if for any reason they “misplace” it.

In a letter from administrators at one of the participating schools, parents were told that they “expect school staff to always know where [thier] children are during the day,” and this new Smart ID helps with that.

“We want to assure you that the “smart” ID cards store no personal information, and the “smart” ID card does not work outside of the school,” said the letter.

“To ensure 100 percent implementation of the new student locator system, we are asking that you talk to your children and impress upon them the importance of this project. Please encourage your students to wear their “smart” IDs all day, every day at school, and discourage students from leaving, forgetting or exchanging tags.”

Are parents cooperating with the initiative? By and large, absolutely according to Northside ISD spokesperson Pascual Gonzalez. He told Fox News that most parents have been “supportive” of the program. Speaking of Mr. Hernandez:

“He is the lone protester. For us, this technology represents an efficient way to locate a student and to always know where our students are in our care.”

The two schools participating in the program, Jay High School and Jones Middle School, have a combined enrollment of around 4,200 students. It’s a little hard to believe that there would be only one protesting student/parent within that group.

“We have seen attemtps to use RFID’s in schools before and have opposed such efforts, not only because we don’t want to see this kind of intrusive surveillance infrastructure gain inroads into our culture, and because we should not be teaching our children to accept such an intrusive surveillance technology, but also because RFIDs are a generally insecure technology not appropriate for use with children,” says Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“[T]his story in Texas is a reminder that despite the technology’s lack of security, chipping identity documents and using RFID’s to track people remains an attractive idea to those in authority. And of course, many technologies of control are imposed on prisoners, immigrants and children before anyone else.”

What do you think? Smart plan to keep kids safe and in class? Or terribly invasion of privacy?

  • James O’Grady

    Sounds like a 1984 Orwellian nightmare, better known as communism to most of us. Strange for a school in Texas to be espousing the communist value of a police state. This is a major violation of privacy. If not rescinded, I suspect the school board will be sued.

  • Swain

    Here’s a cheaper kid tracker: a parent saying, “your ass better be in school or I’m going to put my foot up it!” Problem solved.

    • me

      The problem is if you tell your kid something like that you will have CPS knocking on your door.

  • Christina

    The only people tracking my kids will be me and dad! cold day in hell before id let my family be tracked! open your eyes people!!!! the bible warns us of this!!!! wake up!!!!

  • knysna

    No, the administrators from the schools have got things @ss about face (back to front)

    They need to track the teachers with the “Smart” Student ID Cards to ensure student safety on campus.

    Maybe by attaching a choke chain to their penis to monitor their whereabouts in the change rooms and class rooms were they hump and pump the students. That would indeed expose more of the unholy sick sodomits and pedophiles on campus.

    And then they go on to say

    “chipping identity documents and using RFID’s to track people remains an attractive idea to those in authority”

    Now naturally that remains an attractive idea to those in authority. It makes it easier to track the students to an isolated area on campus, like change rooms!!!!

    • KP

      To your response that “They need to track the teachers” is an invalid response. Reasons being? Because they are. Teachers in the schools are also wearing the badges. Plus the teachers can not see where the students are, only the administrators can. They so far only send the “signal ” out to the badges during 2nd period just to ensure that the students that were marked absent in the classes are not lingering around on campus, which CAN lead to a non-safe environment between students and any outside persons. I do however understand your judgment and opinion, but speaking as a student who attends one of these schools, its actually not as bad as it seems.

  • long hair johnnie

    what happened to hall monitors and taking class attendance? as i recall when going to elementary, middle and high school, there weren’t places to hide on campus when i ‘cut’ class. you your off school property, missed a class and generally you got caught by the teacher taking attendance. this is nothing but indoctrination of children into a worse than Orwellian police state.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Mabuzi

    So Big Brother from the land of the free! Are we seen hard fought for rights going down the drain?

    RFID or chipping. Same thing. As much as I am disgusted by chipping and many others too, it will happen.

  • http://www.kid-friendly-homeschool-curriculum.com KarenNewell

    What danger is lurking in the halls of the public schools that will be solved by tracking children like prisoners? As has already been expressed, this is simply training the younger generation to accept control and lack of privacy through technology. It will not keep them safer. If a student wants to be truant, he or she only needs to leave the device in their locker. Meanwhile we lose our freedom for no reason, and the taxpayer picks up the cost of nothing.