Thursday, February 10, 2005

ABC News: Parents Protest Student Computer ID Tags

ABC News: Parents Protest Student Computer ID Tags

Gee, this is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start.

Jan. 18th, Brittan Elementary School (Sutter, California) superintendent Earnie Graham introduced a student identification tag complete with a radio frequency and scanner. The devise uses the same technology that companies use to track livestock and product inventory.

The associated press reports that the system was imposed, without parental input, by the school as a way to simplify attendance-taking and potentially reduce vandalism and improve student safety.

Each student is issued an identification card that they are required to wear around their necks. The cards have their name, picture and grade on them. A wireless transmitter on the badges beams their ID number to a teacher's handheld computer when they pass under an antenna posted above a door.

Not surprisingly, this little devise is not setting well with everyone. A Seattle Post-Intellegencer story dated today's date indicated that Grahan has acknowledged getting angry calls and notes from parents. His reply, "Sometimes when you are on the cutting edge, you get caught."

Cutting edge? The technology may be cutting edge, the concept of using the devise to monitor students is intrusive and reminiscent of McCarthyism.

Mr. Grahan was quoted as saying that it is within his power to set rules that promote a positive school environment and he thinks these badges will improve things.

It is hard to see how using a personal monitoring devise is supposed to promote a positive environment. It certainly is not going to send a message of trust and respect for the individual student.

This is such an outrageous attack on personal rights that I think an Earnie Graham award should be in order. An Award named for him for such creative efforts at Infringement of Personal Liberties.

Stick Poet will keep it's readers posted on any further developments in this story.
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