Nanny State Watch

Jan 11 2013 @ 4:01pm

The Rutherford Institute reports on a recent ruling that upheld a school's right to expel a student for refusing to wear a tracking device at school:

The Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, has launched a program, the "Student Locator Project," aimed ostensibly at increasing public funding for the district by increasing student attendance rates. As part of the pilot program, roughly 4,200 students at Jay High School and Jones Middle School are being required to wear "SmartID" card badges embedded with an RFID tracking chip which will make it possible for school officials to track students’ whereabouts on campus at all times. School officials hope that by expanding the program to the district’s 112 schools, they can secure up to $1.7 million in funding from the state government.

As Ted Balaker put it, "The official number-one reason for going RFID is to "increase student safety and security," but–since district funding goes up when attendance goes up–it's clearly all about the Benjamins." Kashmir Hill spells out the student's concerns:

Hernandez originally objected to the badge for privacy reasons — no one wants their teachers to know exactly how much time they spend in the bathroom — and for religious reasons — there’s a "Mark of the Beast" passage in the Bible which warns against letting the authorities mark every man with a number.  (Time to renounce the Social Security system, y’all!)

The privacy objections got thrown out the window fairly early on because the school offered to snip the chip. That’s a shame as there’s certainly a national debate that should take place about whether kids should be tracked this closely in schools. Unfortunately, that’s not the debate being had here.

Hernandez previously carried an ID badge around in the pre-RFID days, but refuses to do so now because she argues that it makes it appear that she supports the tracking program. "She would not object to a regular ID," says her lawyer John Whitehead. "But she doesn’t want a location badge that looks like everyone else’s but doesn’t have a chip." Judge Orlando Garcia wasn’t sympathetic to that line of reasoning.