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Education United States News

Kids Who Skip School Get Tracked By GPS 515

suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from the Orange County Register: "Frustrated by students habitually skipping class, police and the Anaheim Union High School District are turning to GPS tracking to ensure they come to class. The six-week pilot program is the first in California to test GPS. Seventh- and eighth-graders with four unexcused absences or more this school year are assigned to carry a handheld GPS device, about the size of a cell phone. Five times a day, they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations – as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8 p.m."
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Kids Who Skip School Get Tracked By GPS

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  • Great plan there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:49AM (#35242708)
    Because kids who regularly skip school can be relied upon to willingly cooperate in keeping and activating their own personal tracking device.
    • by veganboyjosh ( 896761 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:53AM (#35242742)
      This was my first thought as well.

      1. make friends with truants.
      2. collect their GPS devices.
      3. enter codes when called to do so.
      4. profit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why do they have to do it at 8:00pm? That seems like a really dumb time; its none of the school's business where the student is at 8:00pm.

      Four unexcused abscences seems a bit of a low bar; I know my daughter has they many just due to custody hearings this past fall when her mom tried to get her back.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        4 UNexcused are quite different than your daughter's excused absences.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          As I recall from high school, what was excused and what should be excused were two completely different things. There was a very short list of things that would qualify you as excused. Various things I saw count as unexcused included vomiting at school and being sent out by the school nurse and genuine medical emergency of a parent. Your own illness is always unexcused unless it is severe enough to go to a doctor, and I heard it gets tough to get excuses for a parent's medical emergency.

          Overall, the high

          • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:59AM (#35243452)

            Overall, the high school I recall was more burdened with bureaucracy than any corporation I've worked at since.

            They have to be in order to evade any shred of responsibility for their actions. If they didn't have rigid rules on what counted as an excused absence or not, then they might have to make a decision and that could be inconvenient or even cause them trouble.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Why do they have to do it at 8:00pm?

        To make sure they are at home, awake, and studying at that time; instead of at a friends house drinking, OR sleeping when the school has dictated they should be finishing their homework?

      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        I generally find the low unexcused absence threshold in the U.S. to be overboard, by an order of magnitude at least, or maybe two. When I was in 11th grade of high school in Poland, I had 51% attendance rate. You'd get to repeat the grade if it dropped to 50% or less. That was fair, IMHO. I don't think I turned out all that bad, nor do I think I missed out on much. U.S. schools seem to be designed like prisons with "voluntary" attendance.

        Never mind that the U.S. school system on one hand tries to promote at

        • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:38AM (#35243224)
          It's not about learning, it's about training kids to be profitable worker bees. High attendance rates in school train them to come to work on time every day. When company's can count on 100% attendance they can hire less employees because they don't have to worry about covering shifts.
          • Sorry, have to slice you with Occam's razor.

            Public schools lose money for every day a child does not attend.

            Now we might extend your reasoning to the motivation BEHIND that policy.

        • Re:Great plan there (Score:4, Interesting)

          by glazener ( 943321 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:54AM (#35243392)
          This may well be related to a funding issue. In my state, schools receive money based on the average daily attendance, not the actual enrollment. In any case, it seems that having a draconian excused absence policy only serves to teach both parents and kids to lie effectively. My son's high school had a fairly strict excused absence policy. When one of his friends was killed in an automobile accident the school told us that if he missed school to attend the funeral, the absence would have been unexcused. I had no problem at all telling the school that he was absent due to a scheduled doctors appointment. Had the school asked for proof that he had actually seen the doctor I would have had no problem mocking of the letter on official looking stationary stating that he had been seen on that day and scrawling a doctors name at the bottom. Even if the school were inclined to verify the excuse with the doctor, medical privacy laws in general prohibit medical practitioners from disclosing information about the patient so the risk of detection would be minimal. Even if we were found out, there were essentially no negative consequences to lying to the school. There were a couple of other instances when I felt it was reasonable and proper to keep my child out of school but the school would have defined the reason as an unexcused absence. I felt no obligation to be honest with the school under the circumstances. In some ways I guess that the schools are teaching a valuable lesson. Sometimes it's just best to tell the convenient lie rather than the truth. Honesty is not always the best policy.
    • I missed 40 days of school in 8th grade (a personal high point), and I didn't get much better about it during highschool. Now I'm working on a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at a translation research and teaching hospital. I credit my not-being-at-my-public-school for the level of success I've achieved.

      As a parent, it's my business where my kid is. I'll smash that damn device and hand it back to the truant officer on my kid's behalf. Schools have become the Juvenile Executive branch of the government, and
      • Re:Great plan there (Score:5, Informative)

        by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:39AM (#35243248) Homepage Journal

        I missed 40 days of school in 8th grade (a personal high point), and I didn't get much better about it during highschool. Now I'm working on a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at a translation research and teaching hospital. I credit my not-being-at-my-public-school for the level of success I've achieved.

            As a parent, it's my business where my kid is. I'll smash that damn device and hand it back to the truant officer on my kid's behalf. Schools have become the Juvenile Executive branch of the government, and it's not their responsibility. "We'll educate you with the information we want you to know, whether you like it or not!"

        Send your kids to private school, or home school them; there is no law that says you have to send them to public school (at least in my state). There are options besides teaching them that its OK to completely disregard authority...

      • As Mark Twain famously observed, one should not let one's schooling interfere with their education.

    • I really don't get the point of this system - they already (hopefully) know whether the kid is in school or not. They could (and should) pass this information on to the parents. Call them, send them a letter and ask for a reply. What's the GPS adding to that? Now you have a record that they are hanging out in the mall, or on the basketball court or whatever. Did you really need to know that? They are not in school, that's what matters.

      You can't even go and get them from wherever they are, if they just leave

    • Because kids who regularly skip school can be relied upon to willingly cooperate in keeping and activating their own personal tracking device.

      That's the point; once they drop / lose / destroy them, administrators can respond that it requires an under-the-skin implant.

  • Conditioning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:50AM (#35242718)
    All this will do is to condition these children to accept invasive tracking and surveillance. This is not a question of children's rights, it is a question of what those children will think is normal or acceptable in a decade, when they are adults.
    • by tophermeyer ( 1573841 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:54AM (#35242750) it's not a bug, it's a feature?
    • Re:Conditioning (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:16AM (#35243008)

      You're joking right? Those students who do this are already truants. They have little interest in actually responding properly to authority and I'd be absolutely and utterly shocked if, in a decade when they're adults, if they have any more respect for the laws of society.

      I am not saying it's not an invasion of privacy, it is, but those outfitted with these tracking devices aren't exactly the types you're making them out to be.

      • by faedle ( 114018 )

        I actually grew up in Anaheim. And I often ditched class. If I was a kid today in Anaheim, I'd probably have one of these devices.

        Funny. I'm a fully functional member of society, making a good wage and don't have so much as a traffic ticket on my record.

        This has more to do with revenue, I'd gather. I understand that in California school districts get so much money for each student that's in class each day. Kid doesn't come to school, school doesn't get paid.

    • Kids are supposed to be tracked, some times invasively. It's called parenting. Freedom and privacy should be earned through good behavior.

      I don't support using devices like this, but if the parents can't keep the kids in check it makes sense to work something out.

  • by ATMAvatar ( 648864 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:51AM (#35242726) Journal
    This, like so many other school programs, is an egregious violation of the students' rights. Yet, we allow it under the all to used "think of the children" guise. What it really results in is a bunch of people who are trained from childhood that violating their rights is OK if the right circumstances present themselves.
    • You say this as if it wasn't their intention.

    • This, like so many other school programs, is an egregious violation of the students' rights.

      Not so. Most parents would happily sign a release if it meant not having to go through truancy charges.

      • > not having to go through truancy charges.

        Ah, governmental blackmail. "You can go ahead and not do this, but you'll be subject to this shit we just whipped up to punish you."

        Even governments are subject to this sort of shit.Consider federally mandated speed limits. Consider WIPO and ACTA.

    • by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:18AM (#35243020)

      From the fine article

      Students and their parents volunteer for the monitoring as a way to avoid continuation school or prosecution with a potential stay in juvenile hall.

      So this is to keep children from getting in legal problems. It's not all kids, just those at risk of getting dragged into the court system.

      Police Investigator Armando Pardo reminded parents that letting kids skip school without a valid reason is, in fact, a crime.

      The entering of the codes isn't just to verify the child has the unit, but also to assist them in planning to get to school. (8PM code entry? Reminder to get stuff ready for the next school day.) In addition, it involves coaching the children to work on their attendance habits.

      So it's voluntary, has less impact on the students than the alternatives, and is designed to work with the students to improve their performance. Yep, that sounds like a violation of their rights.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        So much for due process. What this comes down to is a bullying tactic to deny these people due process. Its threat. Accept punishment or we are going to drag you into a supposedly fair process which will all know is stacked heavily in our favor and the result no matter what you say is that you will be assigned a harsher punishment. That is the threat anyway, as to if the truancy hearing in California would be fair or not I can't say.

    • No, i am pretty sure the guise here is "think of the fuckups" who will be carrying the trackers; maybe after they spend their freshman year of high school doing so and feeling what its like to be treated like a criminal they will decide they need to start earning trust (by not skipping school). Sure there are other ways to punish, this is just a slightly more convoluted way to do it that has the side effect of maintaining discipline whilst the punishment is being carried out (as opposed to suspension/expul

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by value_added ( 719364 )

      Students rights? Seventh and eighth graders don't have or need rights.[1]

      Instead of asserting that students of that age should be making their own judgments (the consequences of which only an adult could appreciate), I'd suggest we ask why it is that a child isn't doing what they were TOLD TO DO (by either or both their parents and the school).[2]

      The problem, as I see it, is a lack of parenting. The excuse (parents are routinely too busy, overworked, and stressed) may have widespread appeal, but it's a lo

  • I skipped quite often in high school, consequences be damned. I would have just left this in my locker and ignored it, not bothering to enter the code or keep it on me -- even on the days I was actually at school. I don't know why they expect this to stop anyone.
    • Because these are people who chose this rather than a fine and/or jail time.
    • I would have just left this in my locker and ignored it, not bothering to enter the code or keep it on me -- even on the days I was actually at school. I don't know why they expect this to stop anyone.

      I think you missed the part where this is an voluntary alternative to the already-in-place harsher bits like holding you back, or prosecution, etc?

  • A plastic bag and then aluminum foil. Or one of those mylar lined freezer bags?

    • It doesn't report that you are where you are supposed to be at the appropriate times and the police come around and you get to serve whatever the alternate sentence (fine and/or jail time) was that you accepted this in lieu of.
  • I'd like to see the reaction of the parents. If my child were going truant a lot, I'd approve. Education is important, and it's hard to get that education if you avoid spending any time in the presence of your assigned educators. However, if I don't believe my child is being truant, then I'd be outraged. I can't see how the school can enforce this without parental cooperation. Especially the 8PM entry. That's essentially tracking what the parents do with their child, and when they send them to bed. I
    • Why is the school district pushing it? If the parents don't care, throw the bums out of school, and protect the kids that want to study. Truancy is not the school district's responsibility.
      • I'd guess the district cares because, while many parents appear not to care they also don't want to be responsible for their kid during school hours. It's the "Schools as public baby-sitter" mentality. They may not care if the kid learns, but they don't want the hassle of keeping track of the child either.

        Also, in many places (everyone I lived in) truancy is the school districts problem, because it is one of the metrics by which they are evaluated. Schools with high truancy rates can see funding cuts, l
  • I love how they claim it's "optional" but,

    If the District Attorney chooses to prosecute, truant students could be sentenced to juvenile hall and parents could face up to a $2,000 fine, Pardo said.

    In other words, if you miss school, we track you or you go to jail.

  • by strack ( 1051390 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:05AM (#35242870)
    8pm? what goddamn business is it of the government where your child is at 8pm? not that the rest of it isnt bad enough.
  • 8 PM? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dragonsomnolent ( 978815 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:07AM (#35242894) Homepage
    WTF? If this is about them skipping school, what does their location at 8PM have anything to do with whether or not they are at school?
  • GPS isn't a solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sheehaje ( 240093 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:07AM (#35242896)

    Maybe instead of treating students like cattle, schools should become more interesting and figure out why kids are actually skipping school.

    I did all the time, until I was old enough to drop out, get a GED and head to college. I never missed classes in College because I was able to determine for myself what interested me and what goals I wanted to achieve.

    This was because I had moved into a new school district that didn't really evaluate my needs, and instead stuck be in classes that were beneath the level of work I was doing in my previous school. I went from doing algebra and trigonometry to doing long division.

    I'm sure that's not why all students skip school. I sure some are getting bullied, some are on drugs, and others are overwhelmed with their homework. Whatever the case, GPS won't solve the problems.

    • Exactly. Meeting the needs of your client (in this case, the child) is something that seems to be missed out here.
      But then, the US seems to be caught in a web of antiquated behavioural psychology ideas.
      The idea of actually caring about how your client feels is missed. Not just schools, but prisons and other institutions also.
      It seems to be driven by "conform with authority, or be penalized" - a weird message from the Land of the Free.

      • Sorry, no. Just like I'm not one of Google's clients, I'm their product. The client is always the one who pays the bills. For a public school the client is the taxpayers, for a private school it's the parents. Children are their raw material, and their product is (supposed to be) educated citizens.

        I won't claim to agree with the message, but in that light "conform with authority, or be penalized" makes a lot more sense.

    • by rwv ( 1636355 )

      I [am] sure some are getting bullied, some are on drugs, and others are overwhelmed with their homework.

      I recall that bullies were the ones who were more likely to be skipping. They were also more likely to be the ones on drugs, so maybe you bundled in that consideration with your second option.

      As for being overwhelmed by homework... the only reason for this is that you didn't care to either (a) spend the time after school doing what you needed to do, or (b) spend 10 minutes copying answers from your peers who DID do the work the day before. In an ideal high school with lots of over-achievers, everybody w

  • This is California, the state built on the foundation of "Save the Trees, Kill the Children."

    Is there any mystery why the fuck they're in massive amounts of debt and suffering the biggest budget crisis of the state's history? Their answer to EVERY problem is to throw money at it. Kids not learning as well? Let's give them all iPads. Kids not eating well? Instead of teaching them healthy choices, let's remove all the vending machines. Kids not showing up at school? Instead of making school more app
  • Behold as I ... give it to my friend and tell him the code!!!! UNBELIEVABLE

    Also what if I just throw the tracking device in a lake and continue skipping school? This just seems like a waste of resources - buying expensive GPS (they must be at least a GPS module and probably a cell phone radio?) units and giving them to kids who, as they are often skippers, don't really care about school or keeping in good condition the expensive thing you gave them.

    This seems like the kind of tactic that would encourage a

  • What stops a truant from giving it to the class geek for a dollar?

    • Now I get it - the program provides funding for gifted kids. They can use the money to upgrade their computers.
  • I see a lot of borderline or open racism in this thread about the Anaheim school district. Let's review the demographics before we start spouting off ignorant bullshit about the students.

    Asian 12.09%
    Filipino 3.94%
    Hispanic 62.02%
    Black 3.33%
    White 17.17%

    Free & Reduced Lunch 52.0%

    Limited English Proficiency 27.6%
    Fluent English Proficiency 36.1%
    Native English speakers 36.3%

    Now, who wants to take back their bigoted statements? Click reply to make apologies for unspoken assumptions about the low achiev

  • What happens if a kid doesn't report in reliably? Why not just make whatever that is the penalty for truancy in the first place instead of trying to fix a social problem with technology?

  • by Chas ( 5144 )

    Simply reinforcing my notion that modern schooling is less about education and more about simply "jailing" children so mommy and daddy can go to work.

    Is it any wonder why prison is such a growth industry in this country when we're institutionalizing them from age 6 onward?

  • What's to stop them giving the codes and devices to someone who is going to class?

    This system nicely straddles the horribly invasive and the pointlessly insecure, doesn't it?

  • Where I live if your child has excessive unexcused absences then both the child and the parent have to report to court. The parent can face fines and/or community service relating to contempt of court if the child continues to be truant or the parent doesn't show up for court.

    It makes the parent responsible, and we don't condition our children to believe that "big brother" is normal. That's Google's job :P.

  • Kids won't be stopped by that. Maybe each day they'll nominate one friend to carry all the stupid devices to school and log in while the others goof off. Or worse, they'll probably threaten some small kid to do it for them.

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