This is not quite the same as inserting a microchip in a pet, but the principle is the same. School districts across the country are experimenting with placing RFID chips into student IDs and other items. Basically, this is the same technology found in bar codes and magnetic strips found on credit cards. An individual ID is attached to the chip. The school can then view where every student is during the course of a day. The reason is to for student safety. And school attendance, specifically so that the school gets the funds it is supposed to get from the daily attendance of their pupils.
While security is important, let’s not fool ourselves about the real issue here. What is driving the effort by schools to track students is money.
In San Antonio, Northside Independent School District plans to evetually track all 100,000 of its students in 112 schools. Northside’s deputy superintendent of administration, Brian Woods, said that using RFID chips is not any different from security cameras.
Actually, there is a difference. A security camera is placed on a school’s property and is stationary. A RFID chip travels with the student. This is the equivalent of a camera on every corner that can identify every student by facial recognition. There really is no comparison between the two.
Northside also uses the old safety argument when the real intent is more money.
“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,” district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said. “Parents expect that we always know where their children are, and this technology will help us do that.”
Northside claims that students will only be tracked while on campus and not when out of school. Besides, only authorized school officials will have access to the tracking.
It’s school officials. We can trust them, right? Sure, just like the Pennsylvania school that spied on students through laptop cameras.
It is not just what is happening in the schools that is interesting officials. Other schools are already looking at ways to use the technology outside of the school.
A Rhode Island school is planning to implant the chips into the schoolbags of students. Using GPS, the location of the students can be read from school buses. Some parents might like this extra security. However, as the ACLU points out, it might make it easier for some nefarious types to track the kids as well. If there is one thing that we have learned, it is that every technology can be hacked. The ACLU also points out that the school has the right to monitor its buses, but it is a leap to begin monitoring children when they are not at school.
Besides hackers, there is another group that is always alert at finding ways around school security – students. Students that want to play hookey are going to leave their backpacks or ID cards behind or give them to another student.
There are going to be gaps in the monitoring of these students because the students are going to try to fool the system. Eventually, school officials will note that something must be done. That is when someone will suggest implanting the chips like it is done to pets. After all, it is just like chipping an ID card, which is just like having a security camera.
This is a slippery slope indeed.
Here is another case from a Utah school district.