Reuters is reporting that a public school district in Texas can require students to wear locator chips when they are on school property, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. Yeah, that’s right. You read that correctly. The same technology I am using to track my dog, I can now legally track my kid in at least one school district in Texas.
According to the school district – the fourth largest in Texas with about 100,000 students – it is not attempting to track or regulate students’ activities, or spy on them, district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said. Northside is using the technology to locate students who are in the school building but not in the classroom when the morning bell rings, he said.
Why is this important? Do we really care if Miss Congeniality and Captain Football are making out under the bleachers between 4th and 5th period? It seems Texas has lost track of its students, and luring them back to class with a Milk Bone dog biscuit isn’t going to be enough. I’m sure the school district has a legitimate rationale for this.
Apparently, “Texas law counts a student present for purposes of distributing state aid to education funds based on the number of pupils in the classroom at the start of the day. Northside said it was losing $1.7 million a year due to students loitering in the stairwells or chatting in the hallways,” according to the article. Is there really no other less intrusive solution for the school to get hall monitors out in the hall and document who is in the school at bell time?
Well, luckily “The software works only within the walls of the school building, cannot track the movements of students, and does not allow students to be monitored by third parties.” That’s reassuring.
I’m not sure if we should be looking to Orwell or Pavlov here to get control of a situation that warrants nothing more than a dinner bell or a grade grubber hall monitor to keep track of the students inside the doors when the bell rings.