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To Curb Truancy, Dallas Tries Electronic Monitoring 462

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the kids-aren't-people dept.
The New York Times is reporting that a school district in Texas is trying a new angle in combating truancy. Instead of punishing students with detention they are tagging them with electronic monitoring devices. "But the future of the Dallas program is uncertain. Mr. Pottinger's company, the Center for Criminal Justice Solutions, is seeking $365,000 from the county to expand the program beyond Bryan Adams. But the effort has met with political opposition after a state senator complained that ankle cuffs used in an earlier version were reminiscent of slave chains. Dave Leis, a spokesman for NovaTracker, which makes the system used in Dallas, said electronic monitoring did not have to be punitive. 'You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.'"
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To Curb Truancy, Dallas Tries Electronic Monitoring

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  • Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shawb (16347) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:18PM (#23380318)

    You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.


    I wonder which of these two conclusions the students will come to.
    • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Toandeaf (1014715) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:20PM (#23380348)
      I'm just amazed that anyone can say that and not realize how Big Brother-ish they sound.
      • by Woundweavr (37873) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:24PM (#23380442)

        a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.

        You know, like an older sibling.
        • by StevenMaurer (115071) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:37PM (#23380662) Homepage
          ...which is what these kids actually need.

          If parents would actually PARENT, maybe we wouldn't need so much of a "Nanny" state. But until that happens, comparisons to 1984esque totalitarianism is absurd.
          • by MythoBeast (54294) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:45PM (#23380794) Homepage Journal
            Not the least bit absurd. Every person has the right to pursue their own happiness. If someone wants to be a complete screw-up, then it is a requirement of a free society that we let them be a screw-up.

            Children are a somewhat different case because, in theory, they don't have all of the information that they need to make effective decisions about their future. Unfortunately, physical enforcement of what you think they should be doing isn't going to improve them, it's just going to let them know that they need to be trickier if they're going to avoid an oppressive state.

            For children you have three paths. The first is to help them realize that cooperating with those around them and being productive is the most effective long-term strategy for pursuing their happiness. The second is to convince them that the entire world is a bunch of screw-ups that are only vaguely kept in order through threat of violence. The third is to let them screw up and take their lumps. Of the three, the second is actually the one most likely to result in violent, oppressive, and harmful adults.
            • by Smidge204 (605297) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:29PM (#23381520) Journal
              I agree on everything in your post except the part about letting them be screw-ups.

              There is certainly educational value in "taking your lumps" as you put it, however I think this type of learning is more appropriate for older age groups. For example, skipping class has potential consequences potentially decades away. By the time they figure out they've screwed up, it's too late to do anything about it. In the worst case, their "screw up" turns into a burden on society later on. As the saying goes, spanking your kid when he's four will save the penal system from doing it when he's forty.

              In this specific case, truancy, I feel it's either school or GED + vocational training. School or job, in other words. Either way they're a lot less likely to end up being useless later in life.
              =Smidge=
              • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2008 @03:08PM (#23382156)
                Right. Since the government gets held accountable for allowing children to choose to be screw-ups, it's very natural to see this kind of response from them. They're doing everything in their power to satisfy the public's demand that the government do the parenting.

                And if the government is going to be held responsible for the welfare of the children, and if the government is later responsible for supporting those children when they become unemployed adults, then they really ought to be permitted to use this kind of method to help. After all, being responsible for all of the children in the nation is a big task. They need some sort of tool for identifying, tracking, and measuring the status of each one.

                Of course, if this is not the sort of thing you want the government doing, then put the responsibility back on the parents. Don't make "no child left behind" the issue that decides your vote. Don't vote for candidates who support widespread welfare programs. Because this is the natural result of that sort of thinking.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Hatta (162192)
                For example, skipping class has potential consequences potentially decades away.

                Potentially, but in reality almost never. And if there are consequences to it, they are artificially inflated by those in authority, just to teach a kid that obeying orders is the most important thing.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Smidge204 (605297)
                  I'm sure you can say that only with the benefit of hindsight. As I said in a reply a bit further down, when it comes to a basic level of education - either scholastic or practical - there is essentially nothing to lose.

                  College is another matter. I will agree that college is not for everyone, and may actually sacrifice certain options. However, since it's already difficult (but not impossible) to get a decent job before you're 18 in most places, there really is little harm in staying in school. If anything i
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by LilGuy (150110)
                This is typical of a society where your options for living a 'successful' life are focused like a laser beam down a specific path. Why must you burn through primary, secondary, and tertiary education at light speed? Because we need to produce worker-bees to fill the jobs in order to buy up all the crap we import. There are no other options for success in America. You may get lucky and be one of the few who drop out and find their own way into the path that everyone else had to be drilled into, but you'r
              • by couchslug (175151) on Monday May 12, 2008 @07:15PM (#23385478)
                "I feel it's either school or GED + vocational training"

                Which is why Vocational Education is often treated as a dumping ground...

                Don't wonder why the US has a shortage of SKILLED workers such as pipe welders (starting wage often is $20/hr plus per diem!) when physical labor is scorned. Let the droputs who want to VOLUNTEER go to vocational school, but don't inflict losers on the rest of the students who want to learn. It wastes their classmates and instructors time.
            • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:32PM (#23381562)
              This is the reason that about 12 years ago, A little town called Silverton, OR, started arresting Parents if their kids skipped school too much. Its amazing how much the parents would scream and cry about it being unfair, but when they were subjected to Jail time or fines, the kids got to school. (at least until the parents got together and sued the city and school district!)
            • by tom's a-cold (253195) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:41PM (#23381696) Homepage
              This is typical of the conservative punitive mind-set. It's also typical of people who don't learn: if they're doing something that doesn't work, their solution is to do it more and harder.

              I am the parent of a teenager who, if we lived in Texas, might be subjected to this idiocy. The likely outcome if it were applied to her would be more resistance to authority, more risky behavior and a greater likelihood of catastrophic consequences, including inappropriate escalation of repression by dim-witted authorities.

              Fortunately we live in a less pig-ignorant part of the country, so we were able to make other arrangements. They involved giving her more personal responsibility rather than imposing more restrictions and privacy invasions. For her this solution has worked. Another thing to keep in mind is that kids are different and what's medicine for one could well be poison for another. I don't trust a committee of state employees to be able to make this kind of assessment, and I trust them even less to make timely corrections if the approach isn't working.

              What's lacking in all layers of the US government is adherence to the principle that people should be left alone unless they are doing something violent or predatory. Micromanagement like this is a symptom of deep pathology on the part of those doing the micro-managing. These idiots should be driven out of office and humiliated.

            • because politicians are more than willing to make us pay for them later in life. You know the type, never a good job, poor health, usually a few addictions that get their money, and worse - children who repeat the cycle

              I think school was much better when the fear of punishment (the oppressive state) did very well in encouraging you to behave. The simple fact is, some of these people need to be whacked up side the head. They need a "big brother" though the government isn't the best option.

              Here is the ques
              • by Omestes (471991) <omestes AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @04:24PM (#23383298) Homepage Journal
                and all because we put more value on their "rights" than the rights of the society that has to tolerate and pay for them

                First off, I do agree that our school system has gotten weak, and that we don't enforce discipline. Discipline, btw, is the most importance concept in any modern debate involving education. Discipline, means responsibility and consequences, or course, both of which are lessons we are sorely lacking.

                When I was in the school system (in the early 90s) far more time was spent telling me that Mexicans and Black people were people too, and that I should respect them, than teaching me math or reading skills (much less "critical thinking" skills), to me this was an unconscionable crime, with the latter the former is obvious, with the former your nothing more than a tolerant, but illiterate, imbecile.

                I take affront, though, at your last line. The rights of individuals always trump society, unless those rights conflict with the rights of other individuals. Society, as such, has no rights, it is merely a collective of individuals. Holding society above individuals is the basis of all tyrannies and atrocities.

                Just a little nit-pick.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Hatta (162192)
              Children are a somewhat different case because, in theory, they don't have all of the information that they need to make effective decisions about their future.

              Neither do adults.

              For children you have three paths. The first is to help them realize that cooperating with those around them and being productive is the most effective long-term strategy for pursuing their happiness. The second is to convince them that the entire world is a bunch of screw-ups that are only vaguely kept in order through threat of vi
            • by iamacat (583406) on Monday May 12, 2008 @04:48PM (#23383674)

              Children are a somewhat different case because, in theory, they don't have all of the information that they need to make effective decisions about their future.
              And this is why parents/legal guardians are entrusted with a right to override ineffective decisions that children might otherwise make about their future. Although a particular parent can be unfortunately abusive or stupid (mine fell into the later category), this is still better than an abusive and stupid government (like my birth country) having total control over ALL the young minds.

              Although there are some useful things to be learned in school, most skills beyond basic reading can be easily learned when one feels the need. I won a national competition in math, but now I remember zilch from high school algebra. I frequently come to work late and sometimes make silly excuses when I miss a meeting, yet I am one of the most productive employees in the team.

              So if my daughter occasionally skips classes I don't see it as a grave offense punishable by making her wear a GPS tracking bracelets like convicted felons on probation. I will certainly talk to her and may cut off her entertainment activities for a time, but I will rather move out of the country than allow government to treat her like a criminal. If she just skips a couple of classes per month, I will just chuck it off to her being a kid.
          • Trying to force people to graduate is something that only benefits the school system, not the kids. You can't make them learn if they don't want to learn.

            You can blame parents for failing to instill in their kids the idea that knowledge is valuable, but if they don't have it, electronically chaining them to the school is not the solution.
          • You can't MAKE teenagers do much. You can cajole, bribe, etc but ultimately it's the same problem you face as a boss at work--you're still trying to manipulate someone into doing something they don't want to do. Sure, parents love to take credit when one of their kids is smart and successful, but we all know families where one kid is smart and the other is a pain in the butt. If it all came down to parenting, you wouldn't have such a wide divergence in the same family.

            I'm lucky that my kids are sane a

        • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:11PM (#23381216)
          Or, better yet, a truancy bot! [pbfcomics.com]
        • by ArcherB (796902) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:14PM (#23381270) Journal

          a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.

          You know, like an older sibling.
          Ah, memories. My big brother and I used to get high before school. I wonder if this device will help with that!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gnick (1211984)
          I fail to see how this is any more big-brotherish than any monitored parole. Yes, these kids are being tracked, but only as a voluntary alternative to juvenile detention. Why is voluntarily carrying around a tracker a more frightening concept than incarceration?

          Are those of you objecting upset because the kids are legally bound to attend school? Aside from that, I can't figure out what the problem may be.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rohan972 (880586)

            Are those of you objecting upset because the kids are legally bound to attend school?

            I haven't complained yet but that is it for me. Of course, kids are not really legally bound to attend school because you can home school. I do not see how compulsory incarceration five days a week (excepting holidays) for 12 years of a persons youth is compatible with the idea of a free society, even if you do learn something while you are there.

            I'm very much in favor of education, very much against compulsion schoolin

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rbochan (827946)
        Big Buddy!
      • Re:Really... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Locus Mote (307298) <gregory,a,lee&gmail,com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @03:17PM (#23382310) Homepage
        Slavery is freedom from distraction. A still tongue makes a happy life.

        If I lived in that school district and they tried to put one of those Lo-Jack things on my kid, I would wield the ACLU and smite the school district with them while shouting "SMITE" (Bard's Tale fans rejoice!)

        Do they have any idea what this sort of douche-baggery would do to someone psychologically? They put electronic tethers on convicts for crying out loud. These are OUR CHILDREN! Maybe there is a reason that children are fleeing our public schools in record numbers... and maybe that reason should be looked for somewhere other than the children!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jockeys (753885)
      well, if you are house arrest and wearing an ankle tag you have 2 choices, as well:

      1. Big Brother
      2. a buddy who wants to keep me safe and help me make parole


      Is there really any doubt in anyone's mind what this is?
      • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by moosesocks (264553) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:53PM (#23380930) Homepage
        RTFA. This actually is analogous to house-arrest, and would only be used under similar circumstances.

        The students in the program were given the option of either submitting to GPS monitoring, or being placed in Juvenile Detention.

        Whether or not you agree with the concept of house arrest, this seems like a logical extension of that concept to troubled youths.

        Personally, I think this seems to have a much greater possibility of actually working than sticking all of the troubled students together in a prison-like environment.

        At the very least, it's better than any of the other alternatives on the table.
        • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonserNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:26PM (#23381462)
          Mod parent up. He or she seems to be the only one who actually read the article.

          This is an option, its when truancy gets to the point that the student is going to be taken to juvenile detention. I would much rather see the kids restricted to their own home and school rather than sent to kiddy jail. The environment there is NOT going to help them much. If anything, its going to further warp their view of authority and government and they will be worse coming out than they were going in.

          As someone born, raised, and schooled in Dallas, I'm 100% supportive of this program.
          • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dlcarrol (712729) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:09PM (#23383942)
            I'm the guy that doesn't even think Mr. Wanna B. Truant should have to go to school if he doesn't care to do so (subject to parental authority).

            That said, what is the inherent advantage of putting an obvious I-don't-want-to-be-here in a class "dragging everyone else down" (generality used on purpose, relax)? I mean, really?

            I only see three options

            1. He's self-taught way ahead of the class. Not likely, but possible. So why should he be there?

            2. He hates everything about stoopid skool and would rather play video games Does anyone really believe that forcing him to get a diploma does anything except drain resources from the "education system" and water down the value of a diploma? (I'm assuming that there's some value left beyond becoming-questionable "getting into college")

            3. Likened to #1, he's an entrepreneur and can make his living already Even if he's dealing drugs, why does the educational S.S. have to be involved?

            These are serious questions

    • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:29PM (#23380518)
      As scary as programs like this are (and they are scary) we need to start thinking about when, not if, these kinds of things happen. At least I can see a giant transmitter strapped to my ankle. In 10 years it will be possible to pick up a box of microscopic RFID tags for relatively little cost. In 20 years it will probably be possible to create microscopic GPS systems that radio back their location.

      We know someone, somewhere will develope and sell this or similar technology and we need to know how we are going to answer back. Lobby congress to allow jaming technology? Doubtful that will happen. Create scanners so we can atleast know when we are being tracked? More likely, but only a partial solution.

      Hopefully someone smarter than me can think of a solution to what I think is an inevitable problem.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        At least I can see a giant transmitter strapped to my ankle.

        You strap your phone to your ankle?

        -mcgrew

        OT but why all of a sudden am I getting a "slow down cowboy" after four minutes? That never happened when I was logged in before.
      • by Yetihehe (971185)
        If microscopic rfid tags will be popular, there will be also firewalls, which can jam and/or warn you about them. Heck, I would make it for myself (with small processors and kits like arduino, it's already easier than ever).
      • Re:Really... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infOPENBSDamous.net minus bsd> on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:51PM (#23380904) Homepage

        Lobby congress to allow jaming technology? Doubtful that will happen.

        Fortunately, Congress doesn't get to legislate Maxwell's equations, and homebrew GPS jammers [notserver.com] are within the reach of hardhackers.

        I'm sure outlawing GPS jammers will prove as effective as outlawing guns and heroin has.

      • by TheSpoom (715771) *
        Subtract 10 years from each of your estimations. Subcutanous RFID chips are available now [zdnet.co.uk].

        The solution is to elect leaders who understand why privacy is important and who aren't being paid by these companies to make their "solutions" legally mandatory.
      • wait, lobby congress to /allow/ jamming technology? If it stops being an opt in program, so to speak, then we don't need to be lobbying congress. We need to be asking how it got anywhere near that far in the first place. If there is a bug in my arm and it's illegal to have a surgeon remove it, give me a local anaesthetic and a knife.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DarkOx (621550)
        Well by then our soap and ballot boxes would have failed and we will be justified in using the ammo box.
    • by GogglesPisano (199483) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:36PM (#23380648)
      While Dave Leis' touching characterization of the device as "a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate" clearly comes straight from the heart, many students at the high school have expressed concerns this rule "cuts like a knife".

      A spokesman for the school administration added that "We can't stop this thing we've started.".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Znork (31774)
      I find the irony palpable. The comment is like straight out of 1984; Mr Leis apparently seems to think there's some difference between 'Big Brother' and 'a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate'.

      To quote the end of 1984:
      He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn
      what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless
      misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast!
      Two gin-scented tears trickl
  • I live in Dallas (Score:2, Interesting)

    I was born in Dallas, I was raised in Dallas, I went to college in the Dallas area, and I still live in Dallas.

    I have _never_ been more ashamed of this city than I am now.
    • Re:I live in Dallas (Score:4, Informative)

      by kybred (795293) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:22PM (#23380388)

      I have _never_ been more ashamed of this city than I am now.

      I live in the Dallas area, although I wasn't born or raised here. I don't think this is a reason to be ashamed of Dallas, just the Dallas ISD. The crap that the DISD board and administration pulls never ceases to amaze me.

      • Yeah, DISD is truly shit-tastic.

        Luckily, I grew up in the part of North Dallas that was serviced by Richardson ISD, so I never had to deal with DISD, but I've heard horror stories. Granted, RISD has its share of suck (or at least some schools did--they had quite a bit of leeway with their policies), but it was nowhere nearly as bad as what I've heard about DISD.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have _never_ been more ashamed of this city than I am now.
      Er, I believe you misspelled the word "city". It's actually spelled "Nation".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:30PM (#23380546)
      They have to start somewhere. If you look at the history of the US government over the past 100 years, this is exactly what you will see: small, seemingly harmless steps towards bigger and more powerful government that go unnoticed by the masses. Add up those 100 years of government expansion and today you've got a government that absolutely dwarfs the US government of only 100 years ago, both in revenue and power over the people.

      Totalitarianism comes one small step at a time, never in one giant sweep.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gfxguy (98788)

        Totalitarianism comes one small step at a time, never in one giant sweep.

        Sure it does, just not in this case.

        The problem is the left is blaming the right, and the right is blaming the left... the truth is that it happens at both extreme ends of the spectrum, and each side allows little bits at a time that jive with their perspective.

        Of course, anyone that wants the government to stop and go back to it's size and scope from 100 years ago is labeled "lunatic fringe" and detractors don't even have to counter a

    • by eck011219 (851729) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:53PM (#23381910)
      Why? This isn't a requirement. It's an option equivalent to juvenile detention. As I see it, it gives a kid a choice between juvie and doing what they're supposed to be doing.

      TFA clearly states that this is being used for kids with very serious truancy problems. It's not for some kid who's late a couple times. And if the kid prefers to wear the transmitter and go to school, great. And if not, he is detained under more traditional circumstances. At no time is the school system sneaking up on kids and tagging their ears -- this is a choice given to the kid and his family.

      In theory, I agree with others around here that if it gets to this level, the parents relinquished control at some point. But be that as it may, until the kids are 16 they're not only the parents' responsibility, but the community's as well. You may take issue with the laws surrounding that issue, but that's not the point. The point is to make the child comply with existing attendance laws, and this seems to me to be a better way than locking them up with other kids who have screwed up their lives in whatever widely varying ways.
  • Not big brother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossz (67331) <ogreNO@SPAMgeekbiker.net> on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:20PM (#23380340) Homepage Journal
    That depends. If only students with a history of truancy are tagged, then I don't have a problem with this. However, as with all things handled by the government, they will eventually expand it to automatically tag all students, regardless of their attendance record.
    • by wouter (103085) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:23PM (#23380418) Homepage
      It is Big Brother, but according to the article it is only limited to students who ended up at Truancy court. To choose between having an option to continue school life under supervision, or spend your days in juvenile detention, I might just take the first one...
    • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:27PM (#23380504) Homepage
      If the student is a truant then WHO CARES.

      Give him a shovel and have him work for a living.

      Forcing an extended artifical childhood on people is highly unnatural and
      only leads to an obvious conflict between authority and instinct. If people
      don't want to go to school then don't force them. Schools should be places
      were those interested can get ahead, not some sort of prison. Treating schools
      as prisons and daycare just undermines their alleged goal.

      If you can't keep the truant interested than the school has failed to be relevant.
      • by binaryspiral (784263) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:35PM (#23380622)

        If the student is a truant then WHO CARES.

        Give him a shovel and have him work for a living.

        Forcing an extended artificial childhood on people is highly unnatural and
        only leads to an obvious conflict between authority and instinct. If people
        don't want to go to school then don't force them. Schools should be places
        were those interested can get ahead, not some sort of prison. Treating schools
        as prisons and daycare just undermines their alleged goal.

        If you can't keep the truant interested than the school has failed to be relevant.
        Someone mod the OP up... I couldn't agree with you more.

        If the truant students would stay out of class, my kids could get a decent education. But no, they force these disinterested, undisciplined kids in to an already over crowded class room - and nobody learns anything. The teacher is there just to make sure everyone stays alive.

        If they really want to scare these kids back into the class room - make them get a job from 8a-3p during school. After a few weeks of flipping burgers or shoveling cow shit - these kids might take school a little more seriously. And in the mean time they'll be paying taxes on their wages.

        Profit!
        • This is pretty accurate here.

          Alot of the skippers are in the gang/drug/alcohol scene and
          forcing them to be in the class makes it more likely for
          problems to come up due to their "hobbies".

          Most parents with rather that the hell raisers NOT be in the
          school, or put them in a kids at risk school away from the
          normal students.

          I remember having to carry weapons to school just to keep
          some of the more violent ones from rousting me for my wallet.

          The kids with issues/records need to be to be placed away
          from the normal
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Khyber (864651)
        If the fucker is truant, *I CARE* because I don't want some teenaged punk wandering the streets raising shit or breaking into my shit while I'm away at work and everyone else is at school.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)
          Guess what he is going to do once he drops out.
        • by idontgno (624372)

          In short, you want him to get off your lawn?

          Electronic restraints seem a bit extreme for that, it seems.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheSpoom (715771) *
          So if the person is breaking into stuff, arrest them. If they're not, who cares? You can't preemptively assume behaviors in people and punish them for these behaviors.
      • Re:Not big brother? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dachannien (617929) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:54PM (#23380956)

        Schools should be places where those interested can get ahead, not some sort of prison.
        What's amusing about that statement is that those who decide they're not interested in the former are far more likely to end up in the latter.
      • This is so true. The US wouldn't have half the problems it does if it stopped wasting time and money trying to educate those who have no interest in education. If someone doesn't want to learn, they're not going to put in the effort. It's as simple as that. No amount of cajoling or punishment or anything else is going to change that. There is, of course, actually nurturing and educating students so that they want to learn, but that does not work on a national level because of cost and the nature of such a
    • by Nerdposeur (910128) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:28PM (#23380510) Journal

      If only students with a history of truancy are tagged, then I don't have a problem with this.

      I was going to say that I have a problem with it no matter what, but on second thought, I think the question should go to the parents. Minors have limited rights, and if the parents want to monitor them using tools the state provides, in order to keep them in school, maybe that's OK. (Personally, if it were my kid, I would consider this a very desperate measure - it certainly doesn't foster mutual trust and respect.)

      On the other hand, if this is forced on students without parents' consent, then it's a big problem.

      Consider this: parents have a right to know where their kid is at all times; the school should only be concerned about that during school hours. When is the tracking turned off?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Chris Acheson (263308)
      Why is it okay to treat anyone like this, truant or not? Does the school own these kids? Do they not have the same rights as the rest of us?
      • unfortunately the school does effectively own these kids. The effect to which students choices "affect the school" has been expanded so much in ill thought out rulings that the kids are effectively the property of the schools. I don't believe the bill of rights applies when a student is in school and the school effectively defines "in school" not as in the building but attending the school and the courts have tended to agree. In summary fuck that.
    • by Z00L00K (682162)
      Isn't the question more if the student is learning something or not? If a student is absent for most of the lessons and scores full at all tests - is there a problem?

      Maybe it's better to set up a check that if a student fails three tests in a row and has been absent for most of the time that student isn't fit to be present anyway and can choice between go dumpster diving or attend and learn something.

      But of course - it's sure a lot funnier to gang up listening to hip-hop (or whatever it's called today,

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      That depends. If only students with a history of truancy are tagged, then I don't have a problem with this. However, as with all things handled by the government, they will eventually expand it to automatically tag all students, regardless of their attendance record.
      Right. And only terrorists end up at Gitmo.
  • Jokes come true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CogDissident (951207) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:20PM (#23380350)
    I always joked that highschool was like prison. Nothing to do (with our poor education budget) but to wait to get out after you've served your 4 years. Now its really going to be true, thats really very sad.
    • by Khaed (544779)
      And some high schools have metal detectors and armed guards, and visiting is a real pain in the ass.
    • Re:Jokes come true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Monday May 12, 2008 @03:12PM (#23382224) Homepage


      I always joked that highschool was like prison.


      Don't be silly, prison is nothing like school;
      In prison, you don't have to ask permission to use the toilet.
      In prison, you have free time when you can think.
      In prison, you can get time off for good behavior. If you do well in school, they give you extra work.
      If they make you work in prison, they have to pay you.
      If you escape from prison, the law comes after you. If you escape from school, the law comes after your family.
      If prisoners get into fights, the guards separate them.
      There are organizations dedicated to monitoring conditions in prisons, and keeping them from being inhumane.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kthejoker (931838)
        If prison only lasted 8 hours a day 5 days a week with a 3 month vacation every year, your point might be valid.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:21PM (#23380366) Homepage Journal
    Keep in mind a couple of things:

    * The kids in the program were on the verge of being sent to the Texas Youth Commission, aka Juvenile Detention.

    * Once you're in the TYC, you're likely to be beaten, raped, and held indefinitely [washingtonpost.com].

    When the choice is between being treated *like* a criminal, versus learning to *be* a criminal in Texas highly successful Criminal Conversion System, I think it's pretty obvious why any judge would choose to give the kid an ankle shackle instead of condemning him to (eventual) death.

    Of course, the "choice" is mind-numbingly stupid. Now that the story of the TYC abuses has finally broken [capitolannex.com], maybe the next legislature will do something about the broken system that turns minor offenders into hardened criminals. Not likely, of course, because nobody ever got voted out of office for putting *too many* men, women, or children in jail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Actually these cuffs make perfect sense.

      While I support education in all it's forms, I fail to see how forcing someone by law to be somewhere involuntarily for 6 hours / day 5 days / week 39 weeks / year for about 12 years can not be considered a form of imprisonment.

      These cuffs sound like a natural progression of forced education. And of course only the children who resist will be subject to them. There's no need to impose more force on someone who choses to cooperate with their incarceration voluntarily.
      • by SydShamino (547793) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:54PM (#23381924)

        I fail to see how forcing someone by law to be somewhere involuntarily for 6 hours / day 5 days / week 39 weeks / year for about 12 years can not be considered a form of imprisonment.
        Yeah, no kidding. Just this morning my six year old insisted that he be allowed to stay at home eating candy and playing with blocks, but I instead forced him to go to prison%H%H%H%H%H%Hschool where he'll learn about numbers and colors. I hope he doesn't call the Human Rights Watch on me.

        sarcasm
  • Doublespeak? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:21PM (#23380370)
    Sounds like so much doublespeak [wikipedia.org] to me.
    What's next? Tattoos on the backs of the necks of the little snowflakes? Where are these kids parents, why aren't they getting involved and paying attention to what their kids are doing?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by story645 (1278106) *

      Where are these kids parents, why aren't they getting involved and paying attention to what their kids are doing?

      Working four jobs, getting ready for the 5th move in a year, drunk/high in some alley, in a different state or country, dead, in prison, [insert something here].
      Lots of these kids have 'rents who just can't pay attention to what their kids are doing, often 'cause their own lives are too messed up to even think about sorting out their kids. Find a study on truant kids-the usual risk factors boil down to socio-economics, which usual doesn't help with parenting.
      Other parents just don't care if their kid

  • Sounds about right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:22PM (#23380384) Journal
    'You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.'"

    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Benjamin Franklin

    Freedom includes the right to screw up. Trying to protect people from themselves is the worst kind of tyranny. I only wish more people would realize this.
  • What idiot came up with that idea? If you really wanted to implement it, then you'd try to combine the student ID into a watch or cell phone and assign them to students. I'd say some type of Cell Phone ID card would allow you to pack the most instruments in small form factor for your "students."

    Let's see, you could actually bill it as a PDA/ipod type of thing for the students productivity and give them limited student to student/faculty/parent communications. You get GPS tracking for everyone that takes you
  • Big Brother (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:24PM (#23380428)
    If I had a big brother, I'm sure that he, too, would want to "keep [me] safe and help [me] graduate."

    However, I don't, and I did quite fine all by my self. The government can't even keep track of laptops, how are they supposed to keep track of kids?

    It's total bull, just like airport security, only more intrusive. Why do all these "tracking" programs get tested on school kids? Just to get them used to the idea so by the time they're adults, they don't know any better...

    It's shameful.
  • by LineGrunt (133002) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:39PM (#23380688)

    You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.
    The term "Big Brother" is so entrenched that people are completely missing the irony of this statement. "Big Brother" probably originated as that "buddy who wants to keep you safe" and then became the villain icon of 1984.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bsDaemon (87307)
      That's what happens when cautionary tales become cultural cliches... I guess people have just cried wolf [wikipedia.org] too many times...
  • "You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe"

    The irony in this statement is truly a sad thing to see. Clearly staying in school didn't do much for the author's education
    • by russotto (537200)

      The irony in this statement is truly a sad thing to see. Clearly staying in school didn't do much for the author's education


      He probably intended the irony, knowing both his employers and the intended audience would miss it.

  • ..as long as everyone involved, including teachers, police/guards, politicians, parents, lobbyists/manufacturers, students and probably the rest of the population are tagged and everyone has equal access to the monitoring system.

    The problem is always that those with money/power/influence have more rights than those without and that imbalance inevitably leads to a bad place. Children are very lacking in all those areas which has lead to lots of legislation that restricts what children can do.

    On a similar sub
  • ...they did it like the movie Wedlock. No walls and no guards just a big circle painted around the facility that was 300m in diameter. When they put you in the prison they put a colar on you with 1/4lb of plastic explosives in it. If you got more than 300m away from the other person you were "wedlocked" to (you never knew who that person was) then both your and their colar blew up.

    Maybe then the little bastards might be motivated to stay in school.

    Seriously though I think drop outs should be just dra

  • You can paint this thing as either Big Brother
    I paint it as Totally Hilarious! I completely support this program! :-) Fraking little rug rats!
  • While many Canadians will be glad to hear that they are monitoring Bryan Adams, the rest of us are left to wonder, wouldn't it have been more in the public interest to monitor Celine Dion?
  • by Chas (5144) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:23PM (#23381422) Homepage Journal
    School is NOT about education. It is simply jail/daycare for kids.
  • I call BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dave562 (969951) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:30PM (#23381532) Journal
    They don't want to help you graduate... they want to get paid. Schools lose money when students don't show up. The whole program is simple math. They are planning on spend X amount of money on preventative programs in hopes of securing Y amount of dollars per student kept in school. They just need to make sure that X is less than Y and I'm sure that there are all sorts of studies that have been done by the vendor to prove that their device will reduce truancy by Z percent and that Z percent is high enough so that X will be less than Y.
  • Nerd v2.0 (Score:3, Funny)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @03:19PM (#23382348)

    How long will it be before that poor little bastard who always used to get stuffed into his own locker will be sitting in class with nine or ten of these things strapped from his ankles to his knees, and the threat of severe bodily harm hanging over his head if he complains.

  • Amazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dogzilla (83896) on Monday May 12, 2008 @04:43PM (#23383612) Homepage
    Has anyone read Corey Doctorow's "Little Brother"? It not only describes this situation, but also the most likely response to it.

    Anyone who thinks this is a good idea is not only an idiot, but is also the vilest danger to the American way of life I can imagine. First it's criminals. Then it's truant kids. Then it's all kids in school - to protect against child abuse you know. Then it's everyone, and objection to the policy is immediate grounds for suspicion ("Why are you complaining if you've got nothing to hide?").

    Funny thing is, when we try to hold our government or corporations or even school boards up to the same transparency, they immediately throw hissy fits and start claiming executive privilege and "losing" emails. Why are they complaining if they have nothing to hide?

Whatever is not nailed down is mine. Whatever I can pry up is not nailed down. -- Collis P. Huntingdon, railroad tycoon

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