Riding herd the hightech way

How much do a bunch of school kids have in common with a herd of cattle? That may depend on the school and the time of day, of course, but in two Houstonarea school districts, students are experiencing some hightech roundup security.

Thousands of students in the Spring and Santa Fe ISDs are wearing ID badges with radio frequency identification technology, the same technology used to track cattle, according to the Associated Press. The goal apparently is both security and revenue. The technology can help school officials track where a student is – and also help boost a district’s average daily attendance (ADA), on which state funding is based.

According to an administrator in Spring, the technology has allowed that district to recover $194,000 in state funding since the district started using it in December 2008. The reason? Some students counted absent by classroom teachers were found to be elsewhere on campus after being electronically tracked down.

Spring, according to the AP story, has distributed the special ID badges to 13,500 students over the past two years, and Santa Fe began using the badges this year.

The American Civil Liberties Union doesn’t like the system, citing potential security risks.

As a parent, I’m not sure I like the idea of electronic tracking for privacy reasons, but I recognize some potential security value. One thing is obvious, however. The Spring and Santa Fe districts must actually enforce the ID badge requirement on their students – unlike some schools with which I am familiar.



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