California's Anaheim Union High School District is the latest school system to embrace GPS monitoring as a tool for fighting truancy. Under the voluntary test program, 75 seventh and eighth graders with four or more unexcused absences will check in with a text message on a cellphone-sized GPS device five times a day. They will also get a reminder phone call every morning, and chat with an adult coach at least three times a week. But is tracking kids via satellite overkill? (Watch a CNET report about the controversy)
The program sounds excessive: GPS tracking has worked in other cities, says Kat Hannaford in Gizmodo, but I can't shake "the niggling feeling that maybe this isn't right." Besides, if skipping school four times is the point at which we're "going all Big Brother" on middle schoolers, "kids today just aren't as naughty as I thought."
"Middle schools are tracking kids with GPS now"
You can't argue with success: It may seem a little creepy to "track habitual school-skippers Big Brother-style," says Michelle Woo in OC Weekly. But these aren't virtual prisons like the "satellite-linked trackers clamped to the ankles of sex offenders and Lindsay Lohan;" they only help administrators make sure students are where they're supposed to be. And if this actually keeps kids in school, it may be worth it.
"School-skipping kids in Anaheim get tracked with GPS devices"
The punishment does not fit the crime: Are good results worth "turning kids into criminals?" asks Myles Tanzer in The Village Voice. This is the age where all kids "test the limits a little bit," and it must be psychologically damaging for 13-year-olds — "especially the 'bad ones'" — to be "treated like they've broken the law" already.
"Schools making sure students attend class with GPS tracking"