03 May 2007

Big Brother

I teach a Juvenile Justice class in which I try to convince my students that today's schools are turning into junior prisons. Sadly, I just received evidence to bolster my claim. Thing 1's (public) sent home a letter informing parents that they will be fingerprinting students and using biometric scanning for the kids to purchase lunches. They claim this will provide a "safe, accurate and efficient" method of providing lunches. Because, you know, I'm sure there's a lot of scamming going on over those $1.50 school lunches.

The letter claims there are no privacy issues because the system doesn't store fingerprint images, just a "template of the unique fingerprint characteristics." Yeah, that's ever so much better.

When I get angry about something my general policy is to sit on it for a while and see whether I calm down. I hate to overreact. I also like to choose battles that are worth fighting. I didn't raise a fuss when Thing 1 was chastised for coming to school with pinkish hair the day after Halloween (the "temporary" dye hadn't washed out, and the school apparently forbids colored hair). I didn't peep over the "no temporary tattoos visible" policy. No spaghetti straps for girls' shirts ans dresses? Fine, she'll wear lasagna straps instead.

So I've been sitting on this fingerprinting thing for a few days, and I've just become more ticked off. I haven't contacted the school yet, but I have raised the issue with my fellow Pinko Commie ACLU board members. I'm not sure yet what the outcome will be. I can say that even my conservative, tough on crime students were shocked about what schools have become. And look what happened to this kid. Sometimes, it's painful when I'm right.

6 comments:

Nancy said...

It's is really frightening the way schools have become so oppressive. How the hell are we supposed to raise independent individual citizens when they are penalized for thinking for themselves...

Crowzma said...

It's not wonder I cry myself to sleep every night, is it? I think this is a battle well-chosen.

Robin's Reports said...

I have to agree with Ginny. This is definitely one to squawk about. You must know by now that I lean on the conservative side and even I think you've got too many rules going on there. While I've not thought about schools turning into prisons (but agree), I have been thinking that pub school are turning kids into non-thinking robots. It's sad and a force behind why I homeschool.

Knatolee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Knatolee said...

I have huge serious issues with fingerprinting, and it ain't because I'm a criminal. And fingerprints and biometric scanning for a school LUNCH PROGRAM? WHAT?!!!!!! WHAT????

You know, we Canadians freak out about fingerprinting. We are currently the only country whose nationals are allowed to enter the US without being fingerprinted. Here you cannot be fingerprinted without giving your express permission, unless you have committed a criminal offence.

Right now there is a diplomatic stink going on between our countries because the US wants to fingerprint people who merely approach the border points between Canada and the US, regardless of whether these people enter the US or not!


Suffice to say, were I in your position, my rage wouldn't be dying down either. Go raise a stink with the school board!

Angela said...

Phyllis, I have to agree with you. It's sad when they're doing this kind of thing to elementary school kids. When I was at UGA (this was almost 15 years ago) they were using something that sounds similar to the biometric scanners you mention. We had a thing where you put your hand in and supposedly, it stored an image of the "geometry" of your bone structure, which was considered unique to each individual. They said the same thing then, that there's no privacy concern and yadda yadda. As kids we didn't really care, but I remember two things vividly - one, their supposedly "foolproof" system didn't work (literally, half the time the thing wasn't functional and you had to have your ID card on you if you wanted to eat), and two, it quickly became well-known that almost any two people had hands shaped similarly enough to each others' that two people could easily get in under one handprint. DUH. Funny thing about human hands in that their basic "geometry" would be similar, if the size is similar. Geesh. THat system was scrapped by the time I graduated, in favor of magnetized-strip ID cards. Sigh.