05 September 2010

ChiTown Area School Tracks Students w/ GPS & RFID

Scene:  It is the end of the school year.  Finals are just about finished, the junior school kids are busy finishing their educational hours with half days that are basically recess.  Bus drivers are tired and hot due to pre-summer heat waves, and administrators are lenient in handing out early vacations since it soon won't be their problem.  Enter the back-pack RFID and School Bus GPS tracker system.  Did your school aged child make it home?  Did they ditch the bus at the right stop?  Did they fall asleep on the bus and the driver forgot to do their sweep?

One Chitown area school system is implementing a new system to track your little ones.  Not that I am a parent so I cannot claim to completely understand the connection to a child, but is this something for which tax payers should be footing the bill?  Isn't it the parent's responsibility to call home and check to see if their child made it to their final destination?  Has the school system absolved itself of the responsibility to safely transport your children?  No, it hasn't, but you've just asked them to do part of the job that you are supposed to do; know where your kids are 24 / 7 / 365.

As a teenager, or even middle schooler, I was expected to check in with my grandmother (next door) or my parents when I got home.  No questions about it, if I didn't, I was in hot water.  Sure, today's world is a bit more scary than that of a decade ago, but still, responsible parents are responsible for their children, NOT THE NANNY STATE!  Is this a good idea?  Absolutely, if you implement it at the personal level.  GPS trackers in cell phones work well these days, and project a signal far beyond that of a school bus' RFID transceiver.  Yes, I know, they can be turned off, lost, forgotten, misplaced, ect, but is tax, spend, and implement better than personal responsibility to purchase the device yourself? 

I am fully aware that some might not be able to afford this technology for their children, and well, tough luck.  Get a good baby-sitter, work a second job, or maybe just use the cheaper land line to check in at scheduled times.  Turn on the news, call the school, or figure out from Google if there is a traffic jam that caused your kid to get home late.  Face it, in this day and age of modern cell phone tech, there is no reason to have Big Brother School system tracking when our kids get on and off the bus.  I understand it from a liability stand point for the school system to prevent children from being left on buses, but humans will always make mistakes, no matter what level of automated technology assists them.  While this isn't complete tax dollar waste, it is something that could be provided from private donations and grants, and not on the backs of the tax payers.