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Education Privacy

Texas School District Drops Embattled RFID Student IDs; Opts For Cameras 244

The Northside Independent School District (NISD) of Texas, has decided to drop their controversial student RFID card plans and settle on hundreds of cameras to monitor students. Apparently, the technology wasn't quite the attendance silver bullet administration thought it would be, as Slate's Will Oremus discovered. 'Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told me that the microchip-ID program turned out not to be worth the trouble. Its main goal was to increase attendance by allowing staff to locate students who were on campus but didn't show up for roll call. That was supposed to lead to increased revenue. But attendance at the two schools in question a middle school and a high school barely budged in the year that the policy was in place. And school staff found themselves wasting a lot of time trying to physically track down the missing students based on their RFID locators. "We're very confident we can still maintain a safe and secure school because of the 200 cameras that are installed at John Jay High School and the 100 that are installed at Jones Middle School. Plus we are upgrading those surveillance systems to high-definition and more sophisticated cameras. So there will be a surveillance-camera umbrella around both schools," Gonzalez said."'
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Texas School District Drops Embattled RFID Student IDs; Opts For Cameras

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  • by andrepd ( 2932623 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:42AM (#44349905)
    Surveillance and regulations are innefective, education is the way to go. It fails with drugs, it fails with guns, and of course, it will fail to do anything to increase attendance in a middle school.
  • Well, duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:44AM (#44349943) Homepage

    You mean, what the entire tech community said was going to happen, happened? Kids found ways around their stupid requirements and made them look like fools while some contractor got away with tons of public money?

    It's like we need to establish the "If an average 5 year old can find holes in it" rule from the evil overlord list for public institutions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:46AM (#44349957)

    And so if one silver bullet doesn't work, let's try another!

    IMO, if students don't show up for roll call too often, you talk to them. Then you talk to their parents. Motivating them (children AND parents) is your job. Treating them like money cows, not so much. Likewise, you don't automate roll call*, as some schools have tried. It's about the children, so treat them like they're human. At least, that's my apparently unAmerican[tm] view of things.

    * The roll call administration is something different again. But the actual call is to be done by person, thank you.

  • Texas teachers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by P-niiice ( 1703362 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:48AM (#44349977)
    The lens through which we could be seeing this issue is facinating. We on slashdot see "Texas" teachers and we probably think they're retard conservatives. While, generally teachers in conservative southern states are viewed as crazy-ass liberals. It must be hell teaching in Texas, regardless of a teacher's ploitical leanings.
  • Wrong reasons ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:51AM (#44350021) Homepage

    That was supposed to lead to increased revenue.

    If the schools are focused on increasing revenue, something along the way is horribly broken.

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:54AM (#44350065)

    Public schools are funded by the state
    One of the criterion for receiving state money is attendance
    The problem is low attendance, which results in less state money
    They're trying to improve attendance in order to increase how much state money they get

    Of course, the real problem is that state money is based on income rather than students actually learning anything.

  • Re:Texas teachers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:55AM (#44350093)

    It's hell teaching in most states because lawmakers, parents and administrators are competing to see who can prevent kids from learning the most.

  • The American Way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:07AM (#44350253)

    Treat students like prisoners.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:14AM (#44350337) Journal

    I have a phrase I use when discussing these kinds of issues with our staff (I work at a school District)

    "You cannot fix sociological problems with technology. You can only mask them."

    Technology doesn't solve the problems people want them to solve. It only offers mitigation. As long as you understand, you're not solving things, you will do fine. If you think you will solve the deeper problems with technology, you're going to be rudely surprised by the ineffective nature of technology.

    And that is where the issue lies. Too many PHBs not understanding reality.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:19AM (#44350399) Homepage

    The younger you get them used to it, the better.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:24AM (#44350451)

    Fortunately, it's Texas, which means that they aren't actually missing out on education by skipping classes.

    They might even be learning useful things, rather than the Texas brand of propaganda.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:26AM (#44350481) Homepage Journal

    is it a prison or a school?

    What with the security checkpoints, lockdowns, forced searches of student property without permission...

    That's a damn good question.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:29AM (#44350495) Homepage Journal

    This is horrible advice.
    Kids are likely to like teachers who are friendly and let them get away with anything. Those who nag until they do their assignments or tell them to pay attention are not liked. But they may be way better pedagogues.
    Thinking back to my youth, the teacher who was most universally hated was also the one whose teachings I remember the best today.

  • Re:Well, duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:35AM (#44350557) Homepage
    What we also could use is more accountability. Who greenlit this? Who convinced the administration that it was going to work? People would perhaps be less likely to go out and try fancy expensive crap that's unproven if their job was on the line for it, and I don't mean the little guys who're only following orders. The administrators who take the decision should be held accountable for the money lost over an ineffective system.

    Hell, in an ideal world, the contract with the provider would have performance clauses. That'd help with a *lot* of issues we're seeing right now with contractors. Overdue, overbudget? Performance clause means you get penalties for that. Fails to deliver what was agreed upon? Same thing. It'd make the contractors more cautious when promising stuff because what they'd say could be held against them later on. If they say a lot of crap but aren't willing to put their money where their mouth is about it, it should raise all sorts of warnings.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:37AM (#44350587)

    Maybe if you had attended school more you would have learned to spell.

  • Re:Texas teachers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:46AM (#44350707)

    You forgot teachers' unions, who are also doing a fine job of it.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:47AM (#44350725) Homepage

    They're trying to improve attendance in order to increase how much state money they get

    I've got a totally unoriginal idea: truant officers.

    This problem isn't new: students skipping school is a problem that goes back at least 100 years. The solution involves people empowered to arrest and force truant students to school, fining students and/or their parents if the kid fails to show up, and so on. Sure, that can get expensive, but if you've already decided that you're going to legally require kids to be in school, then you need to use the coercive power of the state to enforce that rule, just like we enforce rules against disorderly conduct.

  • Re:Well, duh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @11:08AM (#44350977)

    People are forgetting that the "while some contractor got away with tons of public money" is the key problem and villian in this story.

    The contractor isnt the villain. The public employee that approved the spending is the villain.

  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @11:13AM (#44351031)

    How about everyone gets a flat $, with bonuses for better test scores.

    Why should they be rewarded for handing out tests which are fundamentally flawed?

  • Re: Well, duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @11:14AM (#44351033)

    Ah yes, because somebody who entices another to do wrong and benefits it must be excused in the name of free enterprise.

    This is why con artists and scam jobs are examples of virtue, not scummery, and spammers are really just heroes.

  • Re:Texas teachers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @11:53AM (#44351489)

    Idiot administrators, bureaucrats, and politicians are certainly a problem that needs to be addressed (and I've seen a ton of them). But one of the biggest problems -- at least at my mother's former school and in her district -- (and this is from firsthand observation) is idiot teachers. The union defends their jobs with great ardor, and won't even bear the suggestion that they might be part of the problem. The union sticks up for all of their members, of course. Sometimes they defend good teachers against administrators who get in their way. But they also defend idiots against the few good administrators who want to get rid of them, and there are few worse things for a kid's education than an idiot in the classroom: a good teacher with a terrible administration can still get something done.

    Perhaps the union in your mother's district is more benign and the teacher population is on the whole a lot better. This is just my experience with one district.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian