It's used to track packages in the mail; retail goods at the shopping mall; automobiles on the production line, and airline passengers. RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, which was once limited to tracking cattle, is now tracking consumer products worldwide. And public school students in Texas.
School district receive their funding based on student attendance: the more students in their seats when the roll is called, the more money flows in from state coffers. Well, the coffers are drying up across the country and school districts are fighting for every dollar. So Texas schools have apparently turned to RFID tags to scrape up every penny they can.
The latest in back-to-school fashion?
Students are required to wear IDs on a lanyard around their neck. Big deal, you say? Well, the IDs are embedded with a chip that stores a number tied to the student's name. Electronic readers hidden behind the ceiling tiles in the halls and classrooms read these chips through radio frequency electromagnetic waves. An antenna on the reader, through wireless communication, reads the number on the chip and pinpoints the student's location. So if a kid's not in his or her seat when attendance is taken, staff can punch the number into the network and find out instantly where that student is and haul his butt down to his classroom. You can almost hear the "kaaaa-ching" of the cash register as bottom hits wood (or, in most cases, plastic). School districts are, of course, playing up the safety angle as well as the funding argument. But can you spell "invasion of privacy?" Or do students give that up when they step foot onto school grounds?
On a brighter note, how long before some clever delinquent who wants to skip first period and hang out in the prop closet/bathroom/theatre lighting loft figures out these things can be thwarted by wrapping them in aluminum foil?
And we're talking a glass of wine the size of a 7-11 Big Gulp! Every night -- with dinner --- and sometimes before!
Better make that a 32 ounce!
Here's a test given to 8th grade students in 1931 by the West Virginia Department of Eduction before granting diplomas. The original link is from a blog post on the Washington Post's website.
"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. "
Imagine yourself a kindergartner on your first day of school... a kindergartner with a loose tooth... you’re already a little nervous... a little scared... alone in a new place without your mom or dad... stuck in a classroom with 20 or so other nervous, scared five-year-old strangers... and you’re sitting on the oval rug with the ABCs... on one side of you there’s a boy who’s picking his nose... on the other side of you there’s a girl who’s whining about having to go pee... and it’s hot and sticky because the air conditioning isn’t working... and you start working at that loose tooth with your tongue just to comfort yourself, to occupy your mind, keep it from running wild and telling you to get up and run wild out of that room, like a worry bead in your mouth... and all of a sudden that tooth pops out of your gum... and there’s some blood and you spit it and the tooth into your palm and you stick it up into your teacher’s face... she’s nice and calm about it and calls over to the next door classroom for a first grade helper to accompany you to the office so the nurse can give you a little case to keep that tooth safe until you get home and put it under your pillow for the Tooth Fairy... and you are so happy with the tooth in its little tooth-shaped vault... you are already thinking about the cash that you might get from that Tooth Fairy... maybe a whole dollar... sweet... and you are on your way back to your classroom when all of sudden you stop and realize that you don’t know where you are going... that stupid first grader left you in the office and went back to class and you must have taken a wrong turn... and now YOU’VE LOST YOUR SCHOOL!!!!!
“You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”
Luckily, a kindly librarian happens to be walking the hallway... and she's even better than Google Maps, because she can put an arm around your shoulder and calm your sobbing and actually accompany you back to your "school"... where that gross boy is STILL picking his nose and the little girl has peed on that pretty ABC rug...
Submitted for your approval... the first day of school.
To find out more about me, click on the Not Your Average Jo tab.