Name:
Location: Texas, United States

I am a teacher with 33 years experience in public education. The purpose of this web log is to critically examine the present state of education in our great country and, particularly, in Texas.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Radio tracking kids

Brittan Elementary School located near Yuba City has decided to take what may or may not be a bold step into the 21st century. Students at Brittan Elementary school must now wear radio ID transmitters. The article can be found here.

Congratulations - a school now tracks kids in the same way Walmart tracks say -underwear shipments- with radio tags. This is a K-8 school district that has 600 students in total. Of course, I would have to ask for exact numbers but if you divide 600 students by 8 you get 75 students per grade level. My class load last year was about 150 students. Some of my colleagues had loads of 160+. Now mind you, that refers to one teachers class load in a school of nearly 1000. I had no trouble keeping track of kids either by scanning the class visually or using a seating chart to check roll. The process of checking roll for most teachers is near instant using a chart or just knowing your students.

So, this situation begs a question. What can a school that may have 75 kids per grade level want with a radio tracking system. Do there teachers have that much trouble taking roll? Has roll call for that mass of kids been taking too much class time - say 10 to 15 seconds?

According to an article in the Mercury News school principal Earnie Graham said "we're trying to stay away from the tracking word. It's just another tool to verify student attendance."

Principal Graham also said "it's just another tool to verify student attendance. And I believe it keeps kids safe." The principal goes on to say that an intruder was located because of the absence of a badge.

Hold on a minute. Is he trying to say that the only way to tell if someone doesn't belong on campus is a badge. Yep, a badge helps. A simple badge that is would help. How in the world is an intruder going to be identified by NOT having a radio tracking badge on. If the intruder was identified referencing a badge it was simply the absence of a badge, not the fact that he wasn't beeping in the main office.

The article goes on to say that students are required to wear the badges from the time they leave home for school. Hmmm, does this mean that the tracking capabilities carry away from the school building?

No, this is a practice that should be ended immediately. I can tell you from years of experience in schools that attendance is not the only thing this system can be used to track. Let's just go on to the next step and require that id tags be surgically implanted.

The last institution I would trust to use this kind of a data collecting technology would be a public school.

This also stinks for other reasons. The company that supplied the transmitters - for free - is InCom. This company is owned by Michael Dobson and Doug Ahlers. Michael Dobson is the network administrator for the district. Ahlers teachers graphics and animation at another school. Can anyone say "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours?".

I hope and pray that the parents in this district go absolutely hog wild on this issue.

3 Comments:

Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

"No, this is a practice that should be ended immediately. I can tell you from years of experience in schools that attendance is not the only thing this system can be used to track. Let's just go on to the next step and require that id tags be surgically implanted.

The last institution I would trust to use this kind of a data collecting technology would be a public school."


Now, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I would have some pretty nasty thoughts about this. One could *easily* make the argument that InCom is trying to inculcate an acceptance of radio tracking in our young, so as to decrease the resistance to tracking being used more widely in the future. I know our government would *never* want to track individuals, so I can't worry too much about this... Or can I?

This sounds like a dystopian novel being played out right before our eyes. Maybe if our schools forced people to read such things as 1984, Brave New World, and Atlas Shrugged, we wouldn't have these sorts of problems so often.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

Hi John- thanks for stopping by my blog. It was also nice to read such kind words from a vitual stranger, in life and to the blog.

Hope you stop by again sometime!

8:13 PM  
Blogger jenna said...

Great work on your blog - it was very enlightening. You've got a lot of useful info on there about Attendance so I've bookmarked your site so I don't lose it. I'm doing a lot of research on Attendance Exposed and have just started a new blog - I'd really appreciate your comments

4:21 AM  

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