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?
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