Weeks after Northside Independent School District in San Antonio rolled out its new "smart" IDs that tracks students' geographic locations, the community is still at odds with the program.
The "Student Locator Project," which is slated to eventually reach 112 Texas schools and close to 100,000 students, is in trial stages in two Northside district schools. In an effort to reduce truancy, the district has issued new student IDs with an embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that tracks the location of a student at all times.
The program officially launched October 1 at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School. Without the badges -- required to be worn around the neck -- students cannot access common areas like the cafeteria or library, and cannot purchase tickets to extracurricular activities. WND reports that the district has threatened to suspend, fine or involuntarily transfer students who fail to comply and officials have noted that "there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card as we begin to move forward with full implementation."
Parents and students from the schools spoke out against the project last month. But now, WND is reporting that schools are taking the restrictions one step further.
John Jay High School sophomore Andrea Hernandez refuses to use the new IDs, citing religious beliefs and instead sticking with her old badge from previous years, calling the tracking devices the "mark of the beast." She tells Salon that the new badges make her uncomfortable and are an invasion of her privacy.
But to add to her restricted school grounds access, the teen says she was barred from voting for homecoming king and queen.
"I had a teacher tell me I would not be allowed to vote because I did not have the proper voter ID," she told WND. "I had my old student ID card which they originally told us would be good for the entire four years we were in school. He said I needed the new ID with the chip in order to vote."
If successful, the tracking program could save the district as much as $175,000 lost daily to low attendance figures, which in part determine school funding. Higher attendance could lead to more state funding in the neighborhood of $1.7 million. A statement on the school district's website lays out the program's goals: to increase student safety and security, increase attendance and offer a multi-purpose "smart" student ID card that streamlines grounds access and purchasing power.
While uncommon, RFID chips are not new to school IDs, according to Wired. Schools in Houston launched a monitoring program as early as 2004, and a federally funded preschool in California started placing RFID chips in children's clothes two years ago. Numerous districts have also considered similar programs, but without making them mandatory.
In California, the Anaheim Union High School District is also in the midst of testing a GPS tracking program. From Salon:
Each school day, the delinquent students get an automated "wake-up" phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time. In addition, five times a day they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations: as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8pm. These students are also assigned an adult "coach" who calls them at least three times a week to see how they are doing and help them find effective ways to make sure they get to school.
Slavery Examples Used On Math Worksheet
In January 2012, parents of students at Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross, Ga. expressed outrage over the school district's response to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/08/examples-of-slavery-in-school-worksheet_n_1192512.html" target="_hplink">reports of using examples of slavery in math word problems.</a> The word problems in questions include references to slavery and "beatings."
More Slavery Math Problems
In March 2012, students at another Georgia school were given a math problem that referenced slavery, upsetting students and parents. Nearly 140 fourth grade students at James A. Jackson Elementary School contained an extra-credit question that read, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/james-a-jackson-elementary-school-slavey-math-problems_n_1370125.html" target="_hplink">"A plantation owner had 100 slaves. If three-fifths of them are counted for representation, how many slaves will be counted?"</a>
Communism v. Capitalism Worksheet
In February 2012, Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa received criticism for a class assignment on the Cold War. Based on a worksheet handed out in a social studies class, many questioned whether the lesson promoted communism over capitalism, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/05/roosevelt-high-school-und_n_1255842.html" target="_hplink">calling it "communist indoctrination."</a>
Morbid, Traumatizing Math Problems
A Washington, D.C. teacher was fired from Center City Public School's Trinidad campus in March 2012 for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/05/teacher-fired-for-giving-_n_1322173.html" target="_hplink">sending home violent, morbid and traumatizing math problems to third graders.</a> Questions included story lines about baking humans in ovens and a child waking up screaming after thousands of fire ants made a nest in a human brain.
Perceived Racist Vocab Quiz
A teacher was suspended and handed disciplinary action in March 2012 for a question she wrote on a vocabulary quiz that some argued was racist. When district officials reviewed the test in context, however, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/lakeshore-schools-rescind_n_1367588.html" target="_hplink">the charges against her were rescinded.</a>
'Degrading,' 'Offensive' Class Photo
Sawgrass Elementary School in Sunrise, Fla. made the news in April 2012 when a second grade student was included in a class photo despite not having turned in a parental consent form. Instead of retaking the photo, the photographer resolved to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/parents-upset-over-degrading-school-photo_n_1406159.html?ref=education" target="_hplink">paste a brown-colored smiley face over the boy's face.</a>
'African American Attire' = 'Animal Print'?
A letter sent home with students at Western Union Elementary School in North Carolina didn't sit well with parents in March 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/western-union-elementary-african-american-attire_n_1370984.html" target="_hplink">The note asked students to wear "African American attire" or animal print for a Black History Month event,</a> calling into question educators' choice of words and cultural sensitivity.
Superintendent In KKK Robe
In April 2012, flyers with an image of Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis in a Ku Klux Klan robe sparked controversy in the community. The bill was in response to a contentious school redistricting plan that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/07/atlanta-public-schools-re_n_1410029.html" target="_hplink">would have closed several schools</a> in a number of Atlanta's black neighborhoods.