Monday, November 5, 2012

RFID in Schools

Two San Antonio school have begun using RFID chips to track their students. The school claims these tags are being used to take accurate attendance, but parents think that this is too much. The school says they are not staffed to track every student and sit in front of monitors, spying on their students. The students are wearing cards with RFID chips embedded in them to more accurately account for their students.
            The school claims this will be used to only for attendance because the school is provided funds according to how many students show up each day. They claim they lose $240.00 a day on misreported absentees. If the RFID chips are used, the school could pay back the money in one year with the extra funds they receive.
            In addition to the extra school funding, these chips would also make in easier for the administration to locate students in case of an emergency. If a student must leave early for an emergency then the school can find them quickly. Furthermore, if a fire occurred at the school, the administration could easily know if all students made it out safely, and how many are missing. If the student is late for a class they will note need a note anymore, the administration could just check the RFID and find out where the student was. This technology will also prevent students from skipping out on class and leaving school early. If a student skips class and leaves the school, the school is responsible for anything that happens to them. With the RFID chips they can avoid this problem all together.
            There is a lot of controversy surrounding these chips. Many parents think its wrong to track students in this way. It is dehumanizing to make kids where trackers telling the school where they are at all times. Nobody wants their principal to know when their going to the bathroom.  The students are being tracked like cattle. Tagging just makes them another number and will stop individualism among students. Another problem with these cards is that kids are very forgetful. Many students will forget their cards at home. This will mark them absent still and will not stop the problem. If the only reason they are doing this is to get more funding then this system may not make much of a difference because of these forgetful students.
            Many people like their privacy. RFID chips compromise this privacy. These chips being carried also makes people worry about “Big Brother”. “Big Brother” is the idea that the government is always watching you. Many think that RFID chips are a way for the government to track people and compromises their privacy.

            I believe that these chips are too controversial to be used at this time, especially in a public school. People are scared that the government will watch them. Using these chips in schools will make this fear greater and will cause more problems then is will fix.


  1. I believe that these RFID chips could be a great addition to school districts despite their public controversy. Attendance is always an issue among every school standing. Communities, as well as faculty and staff, put a lot of time, money and effort into creating efficient learning establishments for their children to attend. Children are the leaders of tomorrow, but if they are not attending school, they cannot gain the knowledge necessary to become the smartest, most well rounded people they can be.

    These chips will give teachers a few more minutes of class time that was previously taken up by taking attendance. Attendance will now be performed electronically, using the RFID tags, and will be monitored by someone other than each individual teacher, possibly someone in the main office. This system benefits both the school system itself and the students, whether they think so or not. The school will no longer be losing money to unreported absences and students will be where they belong and getting the education they deserve but often times take for granted. In high school especially, students start to miss school more and more. They are old and bold enough to leave school and walk to food stores or their homes because they are “bored” and don’t want to be at school. This issue is very prominent once students get their driver’s licenses and start driving to school. With manual attendance students can find ways to cheat the system; however, with this RFID system students will be where they are supposed to be or they will suffer the consequences.

    Bryan discusses how these RFID tags can be used to locate students in case of an emergency such as a fire. This only adds to my support of this system because each school is responsible for hundreds of students. In the event of an emergency, checking to make sure everyone is safe and where they are supposed to be takes much less time using these tags then each teacher counting their class and then reporting to another staff member. These aspects only serve to help the students. Yes they are assigned a number for their RFID tag; however, when looking at an attendance sheet, the students are listed with number one being the person whose last name starts off first in the alphabet all the way down to however many students there are in the class. This will not affect individualism; every student still has their own identity and if that doesn’t say enough each of their RFID tags is a unique number that no one else has.

    I think this RFID system would be very beneficial for schools but I do not think this system should be taken anywhere outside of the school grounds. Bryan made a valid point that many students are forgetful and would get penalized for being absent when they simple left their tag at home. I think a solution to this problem would be to set up some sort of a hook, small basket or pencil holder in each student’s locker where they can leave their tag at the end of the day. This will prevent students from leaving their tags at home. It will also prevent any sort of danger for people outside of the school, who do not have a right to this access this system, to pick up the RFID signal and track students down. Overall I think this RFID system is doing what any other attendance system has done in the past, whether it is done manually or electronically, but in a more efficient manner. Schools are not interfering in student’s private lives; they are just making sure they know their whereabouts during the times that they are responsible for them. Students may still skip class and not be where they are supposed to be, but with this system is it much quicker to figure that out and then deal with the students individually from there.

  2. After reading the blog about RFID chips in garbage bins, I thought I had heard it all. RFID chips are being place in products to gather statistics which can be seen as a positive and a negative in many cases. The fact that schools are even considering putting RFID chips on students is absolutely the most absurd thing I have ever heard.

    In an article I read on the Huffington Post about the RFID chip usage in San Antonio, it claims that besides the increase in budget schools will receive by having a higher attendance policy, they also want to ensure safety and security of the students. I think that is not true; that they are just saying that to hid the fact that they are driven by the dollar signs. They are teaching students a terrible lesson. They forcing them to attend school rather than helping them grow as an individual to learn the responsibilities of going to class everyday.

    It is a huge invasion of privacy, and they are taking advantage of students by threatening their use to the cafeteria, extra curricular sports events, as well as simply voting for prom king and queen. They are denouncing individualism and standing up for their rights. Each student is just a number needed to fulfill an attendance policy. I do not understand what the teachers are being paid for. They should have engaging classes that make students eager to attend it. The implementation of RFID chips on students is the easy way out.

    What is next for students, when they go to college and attendance at larger schools is optional? They will not have acquired the skills and understanding of the importance of going to class so they benefit from it, rather they will be intrigued by the option and do as they please.

    The only good I can see coming from this is the few students lucky enough to stand up for themselves against the school system and embrace their privacy. The students who succumb to the RFID chips could find themselves in danger of losing “themselves” as well as if the information of their where abouts got into the hands of the wrong person. It is an unnecessary implementation in the school system, and the San Antonio school system should just go back to the way things were originally.


  3. Using RFID trackers to keep accurate attendance in schools is a good idea, but I believe there are far more issues than benefits. An issue not presented is the idea that students could easily switch cards or take a friends card to make up for an intended absence. For example, if there is a mandatory assembly and the school wanted to make sure all the students were at the school auditorium, a student could easily take a friends card, so the friend can then leave without being marked absent.

    One point made was the idea that individualism is taken away from the students, because they are now nothing more than a number. I disagree with this statement because the RFID is just keeping track of where students are. This does not take away from in class discussion amongst teachers and students. It is not as if the teachers are now referring to their students by their tracking card.
    I don’t necessarily agree that individualism is compromised, but I do understand the invasion of privacy. I would be bothered if my every move was on the watch, but if you’re supposed to be in class there should not be a problem with people making sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing.

    One comment made regarding privacy was the school knowing when a student is at the bathroom. Yes, at first thought this may seem disturbing, but this is just an RFID card saying a student is at the bathroom. The school isn’t literally watching the student at the bathroom. I believe those opposed to the tracking cards have the right to protest, but I can see where their remarks are a bit extreme.

    The observation about leaving cards at home was a great point made. One solution could be that the school collects the cards at the end of the day. To accurately take attendance, teachers would hand out the cards at homeroom or at the first class and collect the cards at the end of the day. This would avoid the hassle of bringing the card home and forgetting it. This would also solve the problem the student on the video made about predators hacking the tracking system, so they are able to track students walking home.

    Although I can see why the school sees this as a good idea, I think there still is a lot more work to be done. Are the cost of paying workers to keep track of the students and the cost of getting the cards worth it? Every year when a whole new grade of students comes in, there is going to be an additional cost to provide new cards. The article says they are not staffed to track every student, but shouldn’t all this effort and money go towards other school necessities. A congressional candidate in the video mentioned how it cost $500,000 with an additional $36,000 annually. Keeping accurate track of attendance through the RFIDs seems like a good idea, but I see their being more drawbacks than benefits to the system.

  4. I think that RFID Chips could be a large benefit to school funding especially now when the economy is in the dumps. Many schools are loosing funding due to cuts in government spending. I think that the value of education is underappreciated in many school districts. I also read an additional article dealing with this controversy and it said that on average the school loses $1.7 million due to mismarked absences. That is a whole lot of money! Schools could do so much with that money that I think that it is acceptable to have spending have carry RFIDs. This money can lead to more after school activities, more teachers leading to smaller class sizes and a better education.

    In High School I took a government course. In this course we discussed how we lose many of our rights as soon as we walked into the High School building. Teachers and administrators were allowed to search through your locker, backpack, etc. We could not say anything that we wanted to say which took away our freedom of speech. Yes, these RFID chips may seem a little big brother, but I think that the decision belongs to the school. Students have to understand once they walk into the doors of their school a lot of their rights are taken from them. If students are unhappy with what is going on at one school, they should go to a different one.

    Another reason I do not think that this should be an issue is that if kids are in the right place then why would this be such an issue. If students are where they are supposed to be at certain times of day, the only thing that this tracking device is doing is benefitting them. It is important to know that these chips can only track where students are when they are on school grounds. I do not see a problem with this. I think that it will keep the students on track, be where they are supposed to be and decrease the amount of detentions that the disciplinary advisor has to give. With all of this happening, it will give the school a better reputation maybe even leading to more funding in the future.

    It is not like we do not have these trackers already in place. Most of us carry one around 24/7. Most people have the app “Where’s my iPhone.” This app tracks your phone at all times; to me there isn’t much of a difference. Also, many parents use the “Family Maps” to track where their family members are at certain times. I know that my father had this, I was not a fan, and had text messages updating him at certain times in the day saying where each of my siblings phones were at that time.

    Overall, I think that if this is going to help increase the quality of education schools should use it. If you are doing what you are supposed to be doing or are in the right place I do not think that the RFID chip should be an issue for the students.