Category Archives: Religious

RFID for pupil attendance not fit for purpose

Northside Independent School District (NSID), San Antonio, Texas, have scrapped the 433 MHz active RFID tracking technology used to log students in school.  It was claimed tracking children with RFID would improve attendance.  In reality it made virtually no difference whatsoever.  “student attendance increased by only 0.5 percent on the high school campus where the program was tested. Results at the middle school campus were even lower, at 0.07 percent.”

What it did do was made for a good exercise to see how tagging kids with 433MHz – the same frequency used by the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and NATO to track their assets around the USA – worked in a civilian population.

With Skyview (aptly named) High School recently installing active RFID tags for staff and students working with wifi 2.4GHz for “safety” reasons, on the back of Sandy Hook, and knowing that RFID to improve attendance is a dead duck in the water, maybe the focus on perceived and totally unproven safety aspects of RFID at NSID may com into play – lets hope not.

RFID Protest, San Antonio, USA

Texas, USA – From We Are Change San Anotonio featuring a couple more students who have decided to reject John Jay High School’s RFID system.

Steven Loredo, is the student who wrote a newpaper article for the school magazine about Andrea Hernandez and was suspended for a few days to trying to publish his story. Here he goes into more detail of how the school treated him.

These students should be applauded for having their own points of view and being brave enough to voice them – not prejudiced against for refusing to comply with the school’s RFID system.

The school’s behaviour sets a dangerous precident of discrimination.

Three US state lawmakers introduce bills to ban RFID in schools

Northside Independent School District’s expulsion of student, Andrea Hernandez, this month has demonstrated how RFID application might save school dollars but clearly does not work in the fact that it has affected one students education.  Has it really been worth the saving in money the schools district claims will happen in the light of the fact John Jay High school discriminated against a child for refusing to take part in the RFID programme.?

With the religious, privacy and ethical issues involved here we look forward to seeing how the debate goes with the below bills filed in Texas recently that would prohibit RFID in state schools.

We have this technology and we cannot undo the technology but we need to use it responsibly and respectfully – which is why an open and honest debate is required.

TexasHB101 – introduced by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. Cindy Burkett in November 2012
– Where a school district may not require a student to use a RFID device or similar technology to transmit information about the student or track the location of the student.
– Where a schools district may allow voluntary use of RFID
– Schools districts must provide an alternative identification

HB102 – introduced by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. Cindy Burkett in November 2012
– A school district may not require a student to use a RFID device or similar technology to identify the student, transmit information or track the location of the student.

SB173 – introduced by Senator Craig Estes in January 2013
– A school district may not require a student to use a RFID device or similar technology to identify the student, transmit information or track the location of the student.

From My Antonio – Kolkhorst said she thinks the Legislature needs to debate the appropriateness  of that use, which she hopes will happen now that Northside’s pilot program has  drawn scrutiny.  Kolkhorst said her bills on the issue in the past haven’t been able to make  it out of committee.

I am concerned that this technology can be very dehumanizing,” Kolkhorst  said. “I really don’t like how parents don’t have much input and think it is an  example of government overstepping its bounds.”

School refuses students request

A recent Federal Court ruling sided with a Texan school, John Jay High School, Northside 01-18-2013_Hernandez_Letter from Rutherford Institure1Independent School District, in that it was acceptable to discriminate – to the point of expulsion – a student, Andrea Hernadez, for refusing comply with the RFID programme the schools runs.

This image to the right is a letter Andrea wrote yesterday to her school – which speaks volumes. (From the Rutherford Institution’s website.)

From the Rutherford InstituteOn January 18th ‘in a phone call delivered near the end of the day before a long holiday weekend, school officials at John Jay High School informed Andrea Hernandez that they would not be granting her request to stay at the magnet school.

In coming to Andrea’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys alleged that the school’s attempts to penalize, discriminate and retaliate against Andrea violate her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.’

It is difficult to believe that in this day and age, with the knowledge of what discrimination can potentially do in our society, that the school district have pursued this course of action.  It is clear to me that the school district’s priority does not lie in the care of education, or respect for the teaching the children in it’s community but in budgets and stamping their authority to a point of overriding children’s and families religious beliefs.

Andrea with her family and supporters I think here have exposed that there is a desperate need for an open and honest discussion of issues on the use of RFID in schools.

(The ‘Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools ‘ August 21, 2012 details issues surrounding RFID in schools)

Judge rules that religious beliefs not enough to refuse to be part of RFID system

In Texas a 15-year-old student, Andrea Hernandez, refused to wear a trackable RFID tag and then refused to wear a pretend RFID tag that Northside Independent School District offered her.  The school district then insisted Hernandez wear this pretend tag or face suspension.   (You almost couldn’t make it up).  So Andrea took the school district to court.

Religious rights?However a federal judge’s 25 page ruling on violation of her rights to religious freedom in that wearing the pretend RFID would amount to showing support for the programme, stated “The accommodation offered by the [school] district is not only reasonable it removes plaintiff’s religious objection from legal scrutiny all together,” U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote.

Northside Independant School District’s insistance for Andrea to wear pretend RFID is presumably to give the impression to students and parents that no one dissents.  There is no room for objection.  It is good to be tagged and tracked.  Look!  Everyone is wearing a RFID tag – life must be good, right?

Why the school’s dogged insistence?  Does the school district have such little regard for their students religious beliefs and privacy that they are willing to sell out for a few budget dollars?

What exactly is the price do you put on the next generations beliefs and privacy? 1 million dollars, 5 million dollars?

Surely respect and tolerance for peaceful religious, spiritual beliefs and a right to be private is priceless to a decent society and a basic respect we should pay to each other as human to human, especially adult to child?

Andrea plans to appeal so this is not the last we will hear of this.

Pope to RFID tag staff

Funny that isn’t it?  Andrea Hernandez refuses to wear RFID as it conflicts with her Christian beliefs, then the Pope introduces RFID tags for staff in the Vatican…  Who’d have thought it?

According to the Telegraph, “Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Daily Telegraph these kind of security measures had been talked about within the Vatican for years but declined to comment on any details and said he did not know the precise timing of the measures.”