Next year, students in San Antonio, Texas, will be greeted at school with a warm smile and a tracking device they are to wear around their necks. The Radio Frequency Identification System will monitor middle and high school students' movement during school hours.
There are a few reasons that the Northside Independent School District is putting the tracking system in place. District spokesperson Pascual Gonzalez explained: "We want to harness the power of the technology to make schools safer, know where our students are all the time in school, and increase revenues. Parents expect that we always know where their children are, and this technology will help us do that."
As Gonzalez said, the new RFID tags are not being implemented solely to keep students safe. The tracking system is being put in place partly due to budget cuts. The San Antonio Express-News reports:
The district plans to spend $525,065 to implement the pilot program and $136,005 per year to run it, but it will more than pay for itself, predicted Steve Bassett, Northside's assistant superintendent for budget and finance. If successful, Northside would get $1.7 million next year from both higher attendance and Medicaid reimbursements for busing special education students.
Some parents are skeptical about the new technology. Margaret Luna, a parent in the district, said, "I would hope teachers can help motivate students to be in their seats instead of the district having to do this, but I guess this is what happens when you don't have enough money."
Northside isn't the first district that has turned to tracking devices. Two districts in Houston have had success with GPS technology and in 2011, the Anaheim Union High School District in California took part in a six-week program that tracked seventh and eighth graders with poor attendance records.
Meanwhile, a town in Brazil has taken tracking their students to a whole new level. In March of this year, BBC reported that 20,000 grade school students are to wear uniforms embedded with GPS tracking devices. Parents get a text message when their child gets to school or if they are late for class. Coriolano Moraes, the city's education director, says the tracking system was put in place because parents didn't know their children were skipping classes.
What is your feeling about tracking students? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.