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Education

Tracking kids with technology: Big Brother or good idea?

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Here are a couple of recent stories that illustrate two sides of the line between purposeful employment of technology and careless use of it.

In San Antonio, Texas a tracking system using something called a Radio Frequency Identification System was implemented by the Northside Independent School District to identify which kids were skipping school. The system required students to wear an ID card with embedded tracking technology.

In the wake of discussions about our privacy in the digital age, it seems crazy to track kids in school like cattle. Some students and parents were outraged, and the school district is halting the program, saying the costs did not justify the about .6% increase in attendance. Beyond being expensive and invasive, programs like this one make kids feel untrusted and criminal: not the right sentiments kids should associate with their education.

I think you can guess what side of the line that was on.

On the other side, child care tracking in Mississippi is getting an upgrade. A new program uses finger scanning to check a child in and out of child care. While concerns exist about the program being a hassle or hurting business, it serves as an example of how tech can improve efficiency.

These scanners record how often children are at child care. It allows the Mississippi Department of Human Services to pay only when children are present at centers it subsidizes. This technology offers a way to mitigate fraud in a way that doesn’t harm the people who rely on the system. Ultimately, the money this program saves could allow 8,000 more children to participate in the government subsidized child care.

 

Technology is increasingly important in the programs and institutions kids rely on. That doesn’t mean that it should be employed carelessly and wastefully.

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