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Where are the RFID Tags in Schools Now — and What are they Doing There?

Three years ago, I wrote:

Houston area school districts have implanted RFID chips into kids’ ID tags and installed gear around schools and buses to constantly keep track of children’s locations.

Get ‘em used to it while they’re young and they won’t think twice about it when they’re grown.

Where will implanted chip RFID tracking be found next?

Where? Three years later:

New Jersey public schools, “to secure their facilities”:

In the system’s software, a tag’s ID is linked to the name of the individual assigned to that badge, as well as to some details, such as whether he or she is a student or staff member—and, if that person is a student, his or her grade level. The district can then log into the software at any time and view the locations of specific individuals on the premises….. Employees can also use the software to ascertain where an individual has been throughout the day, or at any given time within the past 30 days.

New York, Texas and California public schools, to, as AT&T puts it, treat school children as the latest “merchandise”:

One day soon, homeroom teachers in your local middle and high schools may stop scanning rows of desks and making each student yell out “Here!” during a morning roll call. Instead, small cards, or tags, carried by each student will transmit a unique serial number via radio signal to an electronic reader near the school door…. The reader will instantly relay the signals from their tags to a school computer network that marks them as present. The technology behind this 21st-century roll call is radio frequency identification, or RFID. already commonplace in other sectors of contemporary society, it helps retailers track merchandise.

But don’t worry, says AT&T. Some of the tags only track students when they pass a door or checkpoint, making them a “little less Big Brotherish” than others:

In most applications, therefore, students carrying passive tags cannot be tracked continuously, only when they pass close to
readers at doorways and other checkpoints. Compared with active tags, Carman says, “they’re a little less Big Brotherish…. The challenges, like training schools how to use them and creating RFID tags that kids won’t lose or destroy, can be solved, and once they are, adoption rates should take off.”

Some places in Colorado they’re using RFID, and they’d like you to believe that parents and children just “love” it. Cue the anecdotes:

KCNC-TV reported that parents like Kanesha McBath are thrilled about the tracking, especially because her own daughter once boarded the wrong bus.

“It’s been great. They love scanning. They get on, they scan it, they’re happy. They can do it themselves. It’s great,”… bus driver Delissa Gaines told KCNC.

How many children died in schools in 2010-2011, the last year for which data is available? 14.

How many school-age children were there in the United States in that year? 58,485,000.

What’s the probability of a school child dying in school? 1 in 4,177,500.

What’s the probability of a school child being tracked like a herd animal? Growing.

Ask your child: what does the sheep say?

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