by Eileen | 4:54 am, January 14, 2013 | Comments Off
Last week, I wrote about a Texas case concerning the state’s right to force a student to wear an RFID-chip on school grounds and submit to monitoring. The initial decision went against the student, who based her case on violation of religious freedom rather than violation of privacy, but the appeal is already underway.
Treating kids like cattle could be coming to our fair state. Democrats Evie Hudak and Rhonda Fields are running HB-13-1021, which would require schools to “address” habitual truancy. I really hate bills that propose to give force of law to undefined processes and outcomes. The bill charges schools to identify habitually truant students and developed “multidisciplinary programs” to address the problem.
In other words, it wants to create a legal power now and let some people decide how to apply it later. This is the devil’s territory. Signing a bill and figuring out what to do with that power can lead to ruin, but hyper-strict legalese divorced from real understanding of the situation is also dangerous waters.
Right off the bat, I will stipulate that I’ve not heard a word about surveilling students, but using electronic means to watch students is gaining ground and I think it’s a fair prediction that the implementation of HB 1021, or ‘Improving School Attendance’, would involve some form of hightech monitoring.
The current bill is a follow up to the work product of the last session, when SB 46, the Smart School Discipline Law, passed. That bill was itself emergency legislation, a reaction to the none-too-bright administrators who suspended a six year old for singing ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It’. Having smartly relaxed daffy zero-tolerance rules, however, lawmakers may not be content to leave well enough alone.
Obviously, something is wrong if radio cheese gets kindergartners labeled as sexual predators. I would have suggested firing certain educators…and possibly putting them under observation. But such things are in the hand of the legislature, and they like to write laws.
Too, at the end of the day, it’s all about money rather than what happens directly to the kiddies. The economy stinks and schools have less money to pursue barking-bad disciplinary agendas. They also spend a fair amount of time pursuing federal dollars…which are tied to attendance…and kids serving suspensions for their menthol cool vocal stylings are not, obviously, in attendance. The idea is to punish misbehaving learners while still keeping them in the classroom.
I can’t really fault that. Kids ought to spend time in classrooms and, by and large, the antics of children are still just antics…nothing that can’t be handled without resorting to suspensions. Dancing to the beat of regulators, unions, NCLB, and the actual kids means keeping a lot of plates spinning at once. Now, under the banner of increasing attendance, I have a dark premonition about what will be done to the state’s children.
I don’t know if improving curriculum and re-focusing education on students rather than unions count as advisable ethos, but I suspect Mmes Hudak and Fields have at least passing familiarity with the idea of bugging kids. And I worry that just such a tactic could make it into Colorado schools. Use RFID to track only regularly absent students and you create a Scarlet Letter than won’t make them any more likely to attend school. Do it to all the students and you’ve fully turned a school into a Panopticon.
If the bill passes, it’s going to be the latter, as the text specifically instructs, “Each public school shall monitor the attendance of each student enrolled in the school to identify those students who have a significant number of unexcused absences and those students are are habitually tardy.”
RFID’s still don’t solve the problem of students who show up but are always somewhere other than the classroom, or who don’t pay attention. But it is more of the same ‘We must appear to be doing something’ mentality.
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