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Student RFID Tracking Suspended from School 412

ewhac writes "As reported earlier, a Sutter County, CA, elementary school unilaterally took the dubious step of forcing students, under penalty of disciplinary action, to wear RFID badges with their name, grade, and photo. The RFID tags were read by sensors placed above classroom and bathroom doors (though the latter had been shut off). The system was ostensibly used to automate attendance-keeping. Well, InCom Corp., the company that provided the tech free of charge to the school, has abruptly pulled out, without explanation. The school superintendant claimed to be, "disappointed," at the development. However, some parents are not mollified, and vow to permanently keep such people-tracking technologies out of their schools."
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Student RFID Tracking Suspended from School

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  • by fembots ( 753724 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @08:58PM (#11695245) Homepage
    Due to high demand [], this company has no other option but to pull out from this school charity.

    But seriously, businesses rarely do things for free, and it's unlikely any one would offer free services in exchange of bad PR.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:17PM (#11695420)
      They'll be back in a few years - we always act suprised at first ... then you have to feed your kids and put up with it at work and you forget about it after a couple of months like with video survelliance.
      • If only I had some points to give you on that one. What you said is so sad, but yet so unfortunately true. People seem to get numbed by crazy things like this or something, and accept it as "normal" >:(

    • > But seriously, businesses rarely do things for free,

      Undoubtedly they were trying to generate a success story in a gamble to be first-to-market. "The first (school's) fix is free."

      > and it's unlikely any one would offer free services in exchange of bad PR.

      Yeah, bad PR doesn't fit the (hypothetical) business plan given ablove.

    • Doing It For Free (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ravidew ( 456067 ) <david AT roux DOT family> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:46PM (#11695650)
      I don't claim to know why the company withdrew, but here's a though:

      Companies would be more willing to do things free of charge/at a reduced fee if they know that participation is guaranteed. On my campus, our food provider (who also feeds a local hospital :-) is guaranteed that all resident students are required to be enrolled in a meal plan. Students aren't happy, but the administration is pleased about the reduced cost to them.

      The school in the article would have a tough time guaranteeing that all students could be forced to participate in a tracking system as controversial as it is. And without global participation, the school's potential as a case study is greatly diminished, leaving hardly any financial return on what can only be a substantial investment.
  • Wizardry (Score:5, Funny)

    by jackal! ( 88105 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:00PM (#11695257) Homepage
    Hey, a similar scheme seemed to work well at Hogwart's.

    Mischief managed.

  • It's good that the corp pulled out, but who's to say that the school district won't just find someone else to do the job? Surely someone around would do it just for the publicity now that it's such a big story.
  • I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:00PM (#11695263) Homepage Journal
    They're children. Surely you want to track them. It's like the big complaints people have about having cameras in schools and people monitoring them. I tell ya, when I went to school we could have done with some of those cameras. Would have put a quick stop to all the anti-social lord-of-the-flies-esq behaviour that characterizes the school years of most kids.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Children grow up.

      I for one don't welcome our young "it's okay to track people" overlords.

      These children shouldn't be tracked. They should be properly supervised.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mattgorle ( 807823 )
      All very nice and utopian. I believe, however, that it's beneficial to have some upsets during childhood.

      After all, if you don't have to deal with social disasters at school, how on earth do you propose to deal with them later on in life when learning isn't as easy?
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

        by QuantumG ( 50515 )
        WTF? I should be able to live in society without being threatened by physical violence. As an adult, I am free to live this way by avoiding people who think it is ok to solve problems with violence. Kids being herded into public schools have no such freedom. So we can either solve this problem by giving them that freedom, or we can try to control the school environment so these anti-social dickweeds arn't around.
        • RFID tags or GPS receivers are not tasers that shock bullies. How is an RFID supposed to protect children?

          It doesn't, which is why this is a stupid idea implemented by a stupid school paid by a company with no shame.

          • "It doesn't, which is why this is a stupid idea implemented by a stupid school paid by a company with no shame."

            Exactly, that's what people seem to be missing. The whole privacy/tracking thing is a concern, of course. But what benefit is gained from this? It automates attendance keeping. In other words, the school is lazy and this feeds their laziness. And it does a poorer job. You could have one kid carry around the RFIDs for a bunch of people who aren't there and they'll be logged as present. You

        • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Paladin144 ( 676391 )
          I should be able to live in society without being threatened by physical violence.

          Nice straw-man argument, but tracking technology doesn't solve this problem at all. This is a social problem, not easily solved by technology (not without violating our rights/freedom anyway).

          As the article points out, this is mostly for attendance purposes. It doesn't notify the principal if you're getting beat up in the library. But guess what it does do! It makes children feel like criminals. Then, when they behave like

    • Or, teachers and administrators could do what they are being paid to do, and intervene into situations that get out of hand. Student or teacher, you don't need a security camera to know what's going down in your school.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

      by swimin ( 828756 )
      As a student in a public school in America:

      Because Im just as much or more of a citizen than you, and does any government, be it state, local, or fedral, need to know where I am every second of the day if they are doing their job and nothing more?

      Please think a tiny bit before you speak/type, or is this too much to ask for?
      • Amen!

        Searching backpacks is not going to prevent a school shooting. Then you just make it happen soon because that child will just shoot the person looking in his/her backpack.

        School grounds are still some of the safest places, invading privacy en-masse will solve nothing. There never has been a problem with violence as school and we have no problem now. If a kid is going to shoot a school nothing is going to stop him.

      • Let me help (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fireboy1919 ( 257783 )
        Actually, the courts have repetitively not seen it that way. The constitutionality has been tested on this issue, actually. Why?

        You can't be trusted.

        Wait! Hear me out!

        Educators, along with parents and administrators are responsible for your well-being. You are not. You're still growing up; learning what it means to be human. Presumably, you don't have it all figured out, and may not be competent to do so. To help you along, there are limits on what you can do, as well as restrictions on your free
    • Who's going to watch the tapes? Might as well put that guy on playground duty.
    • There are several problems here. First, the school is not intending to track their every move and make them more safe, they state they are doing it to ease the process of taking attendance. And what are they taking away for this paltry convenience? The very privacy and rights of our future generations!

      Is this technology going to stop some crazed lunatic from coming in the door of the school? Nope. might it stop some kids from skipping class, or sneaking in the back door un-noticed? sure. but damn,

    • No not really. The schools do not show any judgment. They would just punish both and not care who did what. Schools should also teach what it means to live in a free country.
  • 1 Kid Many Badges (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:00PM (#11695264)
    I'm gonna cut class wear my badge for me.
    Easy Hack
  • Kids these days (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrKyle ( 818035 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:00PM (#11695265)
    They probably figured out that kids are smarter than they are when it comes to technology. I'm sure if I was in a school that used RFID (and 10 years younger) I would be able to do some mischief using that system by cloning other peoples RFIDs, making it seem they were in multiple places at once, or letting people skip school and have dupe RFIDs stay in the library etc. For the majority of students I'm sure things would work as expected, but some of those "troubled teens" or "geeks" would have a wickedly fun time with it.
    • I guess an RF sheild would have been my first fun

      being in school when everybody thinks you aren't and then you can produce your badge on demand would be fun.

    • If I were a parent I would not want my child walking around with a RFID tag that could give potential assailants information they could use to manipulate my child. If they actually had the child's name, grade on the tag I am sure someone would figure out how to get it.

      • Thank God for you, sir! I was afraid for a minute that there might be an actual conversation about public policy where nobody mentioned pedophiles. It's a good thing we have people like you continually remind us to, "think of the children".
        • Oh FFS. 90% of child molesters are known by the children. Heck, a sizeable majority are their own parents.

          Badges to *nothing* to combat this.
        • by coopaq ( 601975 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:00PM (#11695761)
          Is the principle's name Ed Rooney? Cause I hear he IS a pedophile!
      • right.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Cryptnotic ( 154382 ) *
        If I were a parent I would not want my child walking around with a RFID tag that could give potential assailants information they could use to manipulate my child. If they actually had the child's name, grade on the tag I am sure someone would figure out how to get it.

        Nevermind the fact that most kids who are molested are molested by someone they know, like an unkle, grandfather, teacher, coach, or someone else who already knows their name, age, who their parents are, et cetera.

        Anyway, this is silly sinc
    • How many kids skip school before they're in middle school anyway? If you skipped, odds are your parents were in on it, because you were with them. A 9 year old hanging out at the mall smoking a cigarette is a little... strange.
    • The college I was at five years ago used RFID-based ID cards. They weren't used for attendance because I was attending an evening class where attendance was optional anyway, but they did track entering and leaving the college grounds as well as entry into "sensitive" areas like the computer labs and presumably other places where there was expensive equipment. My sister did a course at the same college a couple of years back and told me that they'd extended the scheme to cover most sections of the college mo

  • by EvilCabbage ( 589836 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:01PM (#11695274) Homepage
    .. but I'd be disgusted if I had a child that a school wanted to monitor in this way. Is this really the way of the future? Get the kiddly-winks used to the idea of being constantly under watch nice and early? This kind of stuff worries me greatly. Are we going to be looking back at these episodes in five years wondering how we let things get so out of hand so quickly?
    • I'd be right with the ones who vow to keep this out of their school. No way, no how, not ever.
    • If you think about childern(under 12) as little drunk adults, the system isn't such a bad idea.

      These devices are used to track childern not to watch them. The school should keep track of their students during the day. I don't see whats wrong with this tool. Although for kids 12 and up, I don't think it's appropriate.

    • by LukaFox ( 765323 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:12PM (#11695378)
      In some ways, this seems like the natural progression of the public school system (at least as I remember it). Efficiency and liability have already motivated policies that treat students more like livestock. Granted, that this technology would make it easier (and cause new problems and work-arounds if people become too reliant on it). It's a tough call sometimes. Parents expect that schools keep track of their kids while they're there, but does that mean having them carry devices that really do track their every move?
    • by kwerle ( 39371 ) <> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:39PM (#11695600) Homepage Journal
      Schools are legally liable for children. There is a carrot (if the kid isn't there, they don't get funding), and a stick (if the kid isn't there, the school is responsible for knowing their whereabouts). Why wouldn't a school want to do this? Why should it be a surprise? Finally, why would it be a bad thing (don't give me slippery slope crap - just any single reason it is a bad idea in and of itself)?
    • We designate children under 18 (I think it should probably be 21, but whatever) as minors for a reason. They don't GET to exercise their own judgement in most things because it's been decided they don't have enough life experience to do so. They don't HAVE the same rights as adults and neither do they have the same responsibilities. Their responsibility is to what they're told, when they're told to do it.

      If we want to teach children about their civil rights, that's what civics classes are for. Until t

    • It's been 20 years since I was in a public school, but I seem to remember them keeping a thing called "attendance" in every class, including homeroom, except that it was done with paper and pencil and was prone to error (my report cards NEVER had attendence columns that made sense).

      What's wrong with automating it? What "right" is a kid giving up having the school know where he is? As a parent, I LIKE the idea that my kid can be tracked within a school.

      Furthermore, as a parent I think that 2/3s of the pr
    • In my what I consider to be typical high school, we had 40 minutes per class period. Teachers were required to take attendance. If this takes only a minute and a half, that still means you are losing 3.75% of class time to attendance taking, which this system would give back. I am sure it will also reduce the age-old game of sneaking in "just after" the bell just to get away with it and hassle the teacher. I mean honestly how can this system be abused?

      I think there is a lot of confusion between people dis
  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:03PM (#11695287) Journal
    ...Incom Corp. has announced that it is getting out of the RFID market entirely and will instead start producing starfighters.
  • by stinerman ( 812158 ) <nathan.stine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:03PM (#11695288) Homepage
    Hopefully the school can't find another business to continue this crap. I wonder if any parents tried to keep their kids home from school or if there was some sort of opt-out program.

    I, for one, will NOT be welcoming our RFID tagging principal overlords.
  • by xC0000005 ( 715810 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:04PM (#11695294) Homepage
    the company had stated why they pulled out, and stated that it was because they disagreed with the policy of tracking students everwhere, but truth is, they probably don't. That's what this company does. They probably pulled out because of bad publicity and wanting to avoid being named a defendant in a lawsuit. Great, the students aren't being tracked. Problem is, that leaves the door open for the situation to be repeated. Without the clear determent of a court ruling against this, or an open statement against this by the school/company, I can't help but wonder if this is a hollow victory.
  • Tin-foil hat time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Silentnite ( 815125 )
    How soon until we're incorporating them into our clothes?

    On the other hand though, this system would be rather easy to beat, given that you could ostensibly duplicate your RFID. "How did Jimmy go to the bathroom AND stay in class??". Or just place your tag on someone you know is going to your class and skipping.

    Honestly, we need better teachers, not a better way to keep the crappy ones locked in.
  • by ConfusedGuy ( 791335 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:05PM (#11695308) Homepage
    I was interviewed a few days ago for my local paper with the hypothetical "what if YOUR school instituted RFID tags?" thrown at me. My reply was that in an age where reliance on technology is reaching a dangerous threshold, it'd be wiser to spend the money and resources on a new administrator or teacher instead of tagging students.

    I know, at least at my school, we could stand to drop a few laptop computers in order to hire another body to patrol the halls. Sure, cameras and tags might catch everything but how practical is it when one man is responsible for catching every rule breaker?

    O' course, the same article stated that my local school board wouldn't mind implementing the system for "safety and attendance." Where's the ACLU when you need them?
    • ACLU? Children don't have the same rights that adult citizens do. Random searches occur in many SoCal schools every day. Your locker can be searched, your backpack searched, your person sniffed by an intimidating German shepherd, school put into lockdown for hours so that children must relive themselves over a trashcan in front of their peers etc... any time the powers that be deem it's necessary for their health and welfare. The school effectively gains the same control (as well as responsiblity for safeke

    • > [King Zad's voice?] in an age where reliance on technology is reaching a dangerous threshold, it'd be wiser to spend the money and resources on a new administrator or teacher instead of tagging students.

      Yeah, but the tags just make it so much easier when they need to sell a few more students to the organ harvesters in order to make their next payment on the new football stadium.

    • "Lets buy new computers NEXT year and this year we'll have money for a couple teachers."

      It doesn't work like that. Between grants, unions, bonds, capital projects, federal funds, state funds, cookie sales and everything else; a school has to be careful how they spend money. The vast majority of money they get has limits on how it can be spent. Computer money certainly does not mix with teacher salary money. Even with computer money, you might be able to buy a room full of servers, but no HP Openview ty
  • Hey kids! (Score:5, Funny)

    by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:08PM (#11695335)
    When they try to pull this next time, remember this handy formula:

    RFID badge + 3 seconds in a microwave = piece of dead plastic.
    • "Kids", remember that? I would be reminding/informing my OWN children of that fact. (And no, this is not hypothetical, I have 3 of them.) I want my children SUPERVISED while they're at school, granted, but I do not want them being taught that it is acceptable for someone to track every move they make. We're already seeing the results of this in the acceptance of employees and lawmakers alike of employers tracking their movements via GPS.

  • by bacon55 ( 853395 ) <> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:10PM (#11695358)
    That people, and even parents would be disturbed by children being literally treated like cattle.

    Part of growing up is doing things wrong, and getting away with it. If kids couldn't get in a bit of trouble, if they didn't think they could break the rules just a LITTLE, we would have a generation perfectly suited for doing EXACTLY what they are told, by anyone in power.

    Thats bad - very bad. Kids have to know they can break some rules and it's ok, and that people in power are not gods. If we all learned that leaving the library 10 minutes early for break is something we can't get away with, (see, word of god) we certainly wouldn't have the balls to tell our employer to F'off when they cut our lunchbreak down to 20 minutes.

  • by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:13PM (#11695384) Homepage Journal
    Well, InCom Corp., the company that provided the tech free of charge to the school, has abruptly pulled out, without explanation.

    Hrm, I wonder if their eventual explanation will involve words like "threats" and "guns".

    Anyone have the webpage for Incom, Corp to check out their press releases?
  • Not only because privacy concerns, but the technology itself. Standards are loosely defined and conflicting, equipment is expensive and not really that accurate. In my workplace, we're kinda being pushed to move in that direction, and after learning more about it, we want to put it off as long as possible. If we're going to be scanning barcodes frequently anyway because RFID is not realiable enough, then it's not worth it.

    It's a problem when unproven technology is used to make important decisions, policy,
  • Not mollified (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xstonedogx ( 814876 ) <> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:17PM (#11695416)
    However, some parents are not mollified, and vow to permanently keep such people-tracking technologies out of their schools


    "I'm disappointed; that's about all I can say at this point," Earnie Graham, the superintendent and principal of Brittan Elementary School in Sutter, said Tuesday night. "I think I let my staff down. Nobody on this campus knows every student."

    How about starting by getting rid of this clown?
  • Here are some cool things I think can be done with RFID student tracking.

    1) If a student was absent from class, automatically email the student the homework assignments for the day.

    2) Log times when students enter and exit bathrooms, and share that data with the smoke alarm. Identify which students are potential druggies or smokers.

    3) Add RFID scanners to the broom closets, and give teachers RFID badges too, to identify which teacher/students are performing fellatio

    4) Use RFID to keep track of room
    • Alright, here's my responses. :D
      1. No problem with this one...
      2. No problem with this one, as long as access is tightly controled and records are destroyed frequently. I'd prefer that my employers 20 years down the line can't look up my bathroom stats from kindergarten
      3. Violation of privacy for the teachers (the school isn't in loco parentis), plus these are little kids. I highly doubt this is necessary in elementary school.
      4. Good idea! Then we can make everyone wear little tickers with Google PageAds on them an
  • by Money for Nothin' ( 754763 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:21PM (#11695458)
    So here we have a case in which 2 opposing sides -- the public, and the publicly-funded government school -- are fighting over a technology that a private company has been selling and promoting.

    The people paying for the system get pissed off about it. Company responds by having nothing more to do with the situation -- in other words, the company, recognizing the threat to their own future profits, is catering to the demands of the public.

    Meanwhile, the government, represented by the school principal, still wants to act against the will of the public which is funding it.

    Please, somebody promote socialism to me, and tell me that the government responds better to public demands than businesses do, or heck, even that the govn't has the public's best interests in mind. LOL!

    The sad thing is, that because of vested interests (read: public school teacher unions), the parents are going to continue paying for this system they oppose. Welcome to the wonders of socialism and government, generally.

    • > The sad thing is, that because of vested interests (read: public school teacher unions), the parents are going to continue paying for this system they oppose.

      Fortunately it was free of charge, so the payments won't be very high.

      > Welcome to the wonders of socialism and government, generally.

      Yeah, 'cause the schools are so much better in Somalia.

    • If the parents don't like what the principal did they can elect a new school board. Or does that interfere with your tirade about the evils of socialism?
    • Meanwhile, the government, represented by the school principal, still wants to act against the will of the public which is funding it.

      The deciding government official here is the Superintendent of the School System, not a lone Principal. A Superintendent is accountable to te public as an elected official. If he defies the Will of the People, he will know it at election time.

      because of vested interests (read: public school teacher unions), the parents are going to continue paying for this system they o
  • "The school had already disabled the scanners above classroom doors and was not disciplining students who didn't wear the badges."

    Doesnt seem like that would produce much worthwhile info from the test now does it?

    The privacy aspect sounds like kind of a non-issue at the moment :)
  • I wonder if the implimentation of the RFID tags also came with less people patrolling the halls. Assuming that the kids are wearing the tags and they know when they leave.

    I can see it as a cost savings measure over the long run, if that is the case.
  • Further (Score:5, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:26PM (#11695492) Journal
    I say it didn't go far enough, instead of just RFID tags, full GPS should have been used, that way kids could be caught running in the halls, crowding round a toilet (that means someone is getting dunked), cutting in line for lunch and making-out in the bike shed (2 people should NOT be that close together). There would be a display with little dots showing their position at all times. You could even add sensors to this device to make sure its never removed, and a microphone and camera so you can patch in to any kid. Im certain the school would run like clockwork, no-one would be out-of-line, especially after the electric shock modules were installed.
    • Re:Further (Score:3, Funny)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 )
      And lets make it so if they remove the sensor around their neck it explodes. And give them weapons. And have them fight for our amusement.
  • Personally, I don't see a problem with having the kids wear the tags?
    If the kids are where they are suppose to be, then the teacher(s) already know where they are, but if the kids aren't where they should be, then this should tell you, and it is the school's business to know where they are.
    The kids, while at school, are the school's responsibility.
    It's not like these tags are on them to keep track of them 24/7 (which I think would be a good idea for the parents to have when they kids are "living under their
  • Not all uses are bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Manip ( 656104 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:28PM (#11695513)
    What if one of these little kids went missing? This would allow literal alarm bells to sound in such case. Tracking attendance in classrooms isn't an invasion of privacy (tracking toilet uses is) because a normal register system does exactly the same thing.

    I like the idea. However used on older kids and expanded to the entire school ground might be a little bit of an invasion.
    • Not that I disagree, but I can't really come up with an argument why tracking toilet uses is [an invasion of privacy.

      I mean, all humans excrete. What's the big deal? I go to the bathroom. It might be interesting, in the case of school kids to know which of them "go" 20 times a day. That ought to be checked out by a doctor, psychologist or DEA.

      Visiting the head a couple of times or less should raise no suspicion and certainly is no more an invaision of privacy than keeping attendance, by any means.

      As f

  • by franois-do ( 547649 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:30PM (#11695527) Homepage
    A French law (applying only in France, of course, but that may give ideas to other countries as well) forbids any employer to use the same mechanisms for access control and for work presence control. In other words, whenever you are badging for something, you should be warned about what you are doing, and that being said, nobody can use a work presence control system to track your coffee breaks or the way you organize your own work (I have been told a SNECMA human resources director got fired for having installed this kind of thing).

    However, I guess that with RFID this law has to be completed in one way or another. For instance by having the RFID sensors signalled, and their purposes indicated by separate colors.

  • teachers checking attendance?

    When I was at school, teachers checked attendance when you went into class. And if you needed to leave the classroom (e.g. to go to the loo or whatever else), you would need to get permission from the teacher. If a kid cuts class and goes down the back behind the shed to smoke or do drugs or something, they would show up as "absent" on both the computer method and the hand checked method. And they would be in just as much trouble if they are caught.

    This just replaces a teacher
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:37PM (#11695580) Homepage
    I think this is a Good Thing. Not because kids don't need to be accountable for their whereabouts -- hell, they need more accountability -- but because if something like a tracking device is accepted at a young age, it will become more accepted as they grow into adults.

    Next thing you know, they'll be putting GPS on our cars.
  • by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl&excite,com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:41PM (#11695613) Journal

    Earnie Graham, the superintendent and principal of Brittan Elementary School in Sutter, said Tuesday night. "I think I let my staff down. Nobody on this campus knows every student."

    Now we have identified the REAL problem, that they should be looking to a solution for. Or, of course, we could always try and get technology to think for us.

  • And in article, they wrote it beamed the updated attendance record to a teacher's handheld. A slick piece of work, that, & hard to make robust (I have some experience in this area). My intuition has always been that evil people are bad programmers. Something about how their twisted brains can never exude straightforward code....

    I bet they never got it working. The article implies they hardly used it before shutting it off.
  • by shatfield ( 199969 ) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:19PM (#11695892)
    "Technology scares some people it's a fear of the unknown," parent Mary Brower told the newspaper before the meeting. "Any kind of new technology has the potential for misuse, but I feel confident the school is not going to misuse it."

    There is no unknown here -- we know exactly what's going on. Get the kids used to being "tagged" -- so that everyone with access knows exactly where they are at all times. Once everyone is used to this kind of Big Brother handling, its easy enough to extend it into "the real world".

    2 movies in recent memory depicted this "track every step" mentality as the normal operation of society are:

    Minority Report [] -- in that movie, it has eyeball scanners at every corner, recording who is going where and when. The eyeball scanners were a little overkill -- all they needed were RFID tags.


    Imposter [] -- in that movie, the RFID (which was much too large compared with what is available today) was implanted in everyone's back. Tracking stations were everywhere.

    If you get into trouble, or if someone wants to know where you are, all they have to do is look you up.

    If we don't put into place some very strong laws against this kind of Big Brother attitude, we'll forever be fighting people who try and try again to implement this kind of technology.

    I'm sorry, but if people think "it won't happen in this country!", they are wrong. All the government has to do is allow something bad to happen, and in the name of "security", implement these tags. As the opening credits rolled in Imposter, you hear Gary Sinise talking about the beginning of a war with some Alien civilization that was apparently trying to take over the Earth (I'm paraphrasing here):

    "Democracy, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Civil Liberties... all gone in the blink of an eye after the first attack."
  • *hummm* girl approaching.
    *BZZ BZZ BZZZ!* She watches the same TV shows that you!
    *TWEE TWEE TWEE* She's a slashdot reader!!!!
  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:42PM (#11696037) Journal
    Forcing the students to wear the badges isn't an issue. The real problem would be a student hiding a badge somewhere deep in their book bag and registering an absent student as present.

    I'm sure the faculty was smart enough to recognize this problem, thus they would have been performing manual attendance to audit the system. Plus every time a student forgot their ID, or a part of the system failed, or there's a power outage, they would have to resort back to the manual system.

    IMO the heart of the problem is misapplying technology. Is taking attendance really such a time-consuming, difficult task to perform to require tens of thousands of dollars of equipment and the dispersal of hardware to every single student? A teacher should recognize their students, and should be cognizant of empty seats that are normally occupied.

    Dan East
  • by wk633 ( 442820 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:46PM (#11696056)
    Some of the feedback is interesting as well. Basically, the 'solution' doesn't solve any problems, and it's money that could be better spent on teachers and books. Yes, I know, this one was 'free', but it won't always be free. erprinting_1.html []
  • by TheCubic ( 151533 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:27AM (#11696698) Homepage
    ...graduated from HS in 2000.

    When I was a senior, a tech company 'volunteered' to install a fingerprinting system for checking out books - the idea is that you have the librarian scan every book, you swipe your fingerprint in the reader, and you're off. It replaced good ol' barcode on the back of our (photo) student IDs (which we were supposed to carry always).

    I happened to be in the library during the time that the system was launched, the suits there and all. I walked by, wanting to check a book out and they asked me whether I wanted to test drive this awesome new fingerprinting technology, and I said no to their face (the look was priceless). I graduated soon after and didn't look back, but I found out that all the fingerprints, in BMP form, were stored on an unpatched, networked windows PC in the library. (Oh, the fun I could have had; I could have delivered the fingerprints to the principal Veronica-Mars-style [flippantly] and gotten away with it too)

    I don't have a problem with submitting my fingerprint as part of the moral character application to the bar, but for checking out a frigging research book at school?

    Anyway, I also heard that they got rid of that later, because kids didn't want to use it. I'm all for phasing out shitty security-dangerous technology de facto.
  • by buzzcutbuddha ( 113929 ) <maurice-slashdot ... cereeves DOT com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:38AM (#11697064) Homepage
    I don't have much trust in the public school system as it is, and I admit that I am biased against them, but this would have been more than enough for me to remove my kids from the school and to seek alternatives.

    Now, however, I do know what the principal would say, and what my wife would say: "This is good because no one could take our kids without us knowing who did it and when. Also, this could prevent another Columbine."

    I think that both of those reasons are bunk, and I refuse to give creedence to them, but I do know that many parents believe them. It's a sad sad world we're living in.

    Many times I'm inclined to believe that if I instill in my children a love of freedom, liberty, and a hackish spirit, they will either rule the Earth, or be burned at the stake as heretics.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:57AM (#11697137) Journal
    Mark my words. In two years, this will be back, and people will be less resistant. Five years after that, it will become a nationally mandatory perogative.

    Personal security erodes over time. Always. Period.
    Get used to it.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright