‘Big Brother’ and the schools

24 Nov

Moi wrote about that Texas “Big Brother” in Texas digital school ID: ‘Big brother’ or the ‘mark of the beast’?

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

George Orwell, 1984

Huffington Post is reporting in the article, Texas School District Reportedly Threatening Students Who Refuse Tracking ID, Can’t Vote For Homecoming:

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. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/texas-school-district-rep_n_1949415.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

What one might ask would cause a school district to do that ‘big brother’ thing. It’s the money, stupid. According to the Texas Tribune’s Maurice Chammah and Nick Swartsell writing in the article, Student IDs That Track the Students which was published in the New York Times:

In Texas, school finance is a numbers game: schools receive money based on the number of students counted in their homeroom classes each morning. At Anson Jones, as at other schools, many students were in school but not in homeroom, so they were not counted and the district lost money, said Pascual Gonzalez, a spokesman for the district.

We were leaving money on the table,” he said, adding that the district expects a $2 million return on an initial investment of $261,000 in the technology at two pilot schools. [Emphasis Added] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/us/in-texas-schools-use-ids-to-track-students.html?emc=eta1&_r=0 http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/texas-digital-school-id-big-brother-or-the-mark-of-the-beast/

Students who refuse to be monitored are being expelled.

Aaron Dykes writes at Infowars.Com in the article, Student Expelled for Refusing Location Tracking RFID Badge:

After months of protesting a policy requiring high school students to wear an RFID-enabled ID badge around their necks at all times, Andrea Hernandez is being involuntarily withdrawn from John Jay High School in San Antonio effective November 26th, according to a letter sent by the district that has now been made public.

The letter, sent on November 13, informs her father that the Smart ID program, which was phased in with the new school year, is now in “full implementation” and requires all students to comply by wearing the location-tracking badges.

Since Andrea Hernandez has refused to wear the badge, she is being withdrawn from the magnet school and her program at the Science and Engineering Academy, and instead will have to attend William Howard Taft HS, which is not currently involved in the ID scheme, unless she changes her position.

Civil liberties lawyers at the Rutherford Institute told Infowars.com that they are in the process of filing a temporary restraining order petition to prevent the school from kicking Hernandez out until further appeals can be made to resolve the matter. Representatives for John Jay did not return calls for comment by the time of publishing.

Andrea, backed by her family, has claimed the policy violates her religious beliefs and unduly infringes on her privacy. The controversial ID badge includes the photo and name of each student, a barcode tied to the student’s social security number, as well as an RFID chip which pinpoints the exact location of the individual student, including after hours and when the student leaves campus.

The battle over the IDs has been an ongoing saga. The Hernandez family has previously attended several school board meetings, organized protests and filed formal grievances with the district over the matter, and has been backed by numerous civil rights advocates.

Infowars reporters covered a protest that took place in early October, following up with appearances by the Hernandez family on the Alex Jones Show and the Infowars Nightly News programs.

Letter from John Jay High School withdrawing Andrea Hernandez for not submitting to the RFID tracking ID badges.


http://www.infowars.com/student-expelled-for-refusing-location-tracking-rfid-badge/

For money, you would sell your soul.
 Sophocles

Resources:

Big Brother invades our classrooms                                     http://www.salon.com/2012/10/08/big_brother_invades_our_classrooms/

ACLU documents show increasing phone and internet surveillance by Department of Justice                                                       http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/27/3418420/department-of-justice-surveillance-increase-aclu

Related:

Who has access to student records?                               https://drwilda.com/tag/student-privacy-laws-complicate-schools-ability-to-prevent-attacks/

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