Wired’s David Kravets reports that a student in San Antonio, Texas named Andrea Hernandez has been suspended from high school until she agrees to wear a tracking device that monitors her whereabouts on campus throughout the day. Apparently, Hernandez and her family object to the devices on the basis of privacy rights and religion. As Kravets writes, “The Hernandez family, which is Christian, told InfoWars that the sophomore is declining to wear the badge because it signifies Satan, or the Mark of the Beast warning in Revelations 13: 16-18.” Apparently, such tracking devices are used to secure school funding — often contingent upon students’ attendance — by certifying students’ presence on campus, even if they’re not where they’re supposed to be.

I can’t say for sure if these tracking devices are Satanic, but I certainly find them disturbing. It seems like another layer of compulsion in an institutional context already teeming with arbitrary rules and regulations for students and teachers alike. The policy seems focused on funding rather than academic development, since it only cares if the students are somewhere on campus, but not necessarily in the classes they’re supposed to be attending.

The policy also illustrates a disregard for relationships, where teachers would know students well enough to notice them in class, and instead, a preference for a monitoring system that prioritizes warm bodies in space over actual individuals. The entire purpose of school funding becomes reversed here, where Hernandez represents a dollar amount for the school, disregarding the fact that such funding is supposed to be used to enhance her (and her peers’) education; it becomes about using students to get money for the system instead of using money to support students within the system.

Kant would be angry, and Kafka would probably say “I told you so.”

1 Comment

  1. What your calling for, though, is impossible to do in many public schools. Yes, your diagnosis is right- it’s about funding and should be about academic excellence and some semblance of a relationship between student/teacher- but your prognosis doesn’t go far enough. In public school there is little penalty and little reward built in for getting things right. A private school screws up? The hammer of free market drops and the school gets shut down quickly. A public school screws up over and over again and then maybe years later after the politicians have no reason to defend it, it gets shut down. A private school succeeds and you get more money via tuition and you get MUCH happier students and parents. A public school succeeds and they get… federal funding, maybe. They also get bloated classrooms and lots of red tape when they try to expand or branch off into two schools when everyone attempts to transfer to that school.

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