Remember this, the microchip I.D. program being tested in Northside ISD in San Antonio?

A quick refresher from the November 2012 AP story:

Starting [Fall 2012], the fourth-largest school district in Texas is experimenting with “locator” chips in student ID badges on two of its campuses, allowing administrators to track the whereabouts of 4,200 students with GPS-like precision.

Essentially, in order to increase student attendance and thereby increase their share of state funding, Northside ISD was investing in an unusual tracking method for two schools.  The experiment made headlines when one student, Andrea Hernandez, challenged the constitutionality of the program.  She lost in court, but students ultimately won here, as Northside ISD discovered that the costs outweighed the benefits by a considerable amount.
According to the San Antonio Express-News:
Northside spent $271,659 to implement the pilot program, which included initial one-time costs for infrastructure. The increased attendance at the two campuses resulted in an additional $136,665 in state funding.

[Superintendent Brian] Woods said the decision to end the program was not a reflection of the technology, praising the system developed by San Antonio-based Wade/Garcia & Associates. He said the district will brainstorm about what to do with the RFID equipment.

Legislation was filed during the 83rd Regular Session (HB 101, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst) to stop these kinds of tracking devices from being used at all.  It had bipartisan support and made it most of the way through the process, only to die in the Calendars committee in May.  I doubt this will be the last attempt to stop such devices from being used in schools, even with Northside’s ultimate capitulation on the idea; the equipment is still there and could be used for other purposes, and other schools in the state are using it for student tracking (two schools in Houston, according to the SAEN).
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Northside ISD did the right thing, in a roundabout way.  They tested a program, found that it did not work in their favor, and cancelled it.  However, it’s a shame that fighting to get more state funds led to unnecessary expenditures.  Resorting to advanced technology to keep kids in school represents a general failure in the arena of dropout rates and truancy, and a better statewide discussion on those issues is needed.


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