What happened to roll call?

April 6, 2008 at 2:00 am 9 comments

Max\'s pawNow, this gets me really hopping mad. The high school I went to was Ku-ring-gai High in North Turramurra. No private school for me as my family couldn’t afford it and my dad thought it was toffee-nosed to send a kid to a private school anyway. At the time (around 1000 BC!), it was a great school. So great in fact, I was inspired to go off and take a degree in History and a further one in education so I could become a History teacher. I well remember Mr Thomas, my History teacher. Guess he’s no longer with us on the planet, but he inspired my lifelong love of History.

So I read with jaw-dropping incredulity that my old high school is one of six schools in New South Wales to attempt to bring in a new attendance monitoring system. Nothing wrong with seeing if kiddies show up to school, but this monitoring system was to be carried out via……fingerprinting children. Hello teachers! Have you heard of good old-fashioned roll-call? I never had any problems with it.

Regular ThinkingShift readers (all two of you!) would be well aware of my antipathy to invasions of privacy, monitoring, tracking and so on. So how can I help but be frankly disgusted by what I’ve read. Where is Year 10 student, Brad Lorge? I want to say to him well done, you stood up to THEM. Brad, along with three other students was hauled out of class, without notice, and asked to have their fingers scanned for a 6-month trial of this stupid new system. Apparently, parents had been informed by letter from the Principal and told they could apply for an exemption if they objected to their kid being treated like a criminal, sorry, fingerprinted.

But it seems that Brad wasn’t given that chance. He refused to participate in the fingerprinting trial because of concerns for his privacy. This kid gives me hope! Maybe not all kids these days are giving away details of their lives on Facebook and MySpace. He said:

“When I began to question, I was informed that I would be stupid to not comply and that there was no reason for me to not provide my fingerprint. It was intimidating. I was the only one out of the four who refused to provide my fingerprint. Considering the current controversy with biometric identification systems, I don’t think it is appropriate for a school or any government body to try to enforce a system.

Clearly, a very thoughtful young man. There have been allegations that staff (I simply can’t believe that teachers would do this) bullied and insulted students who were unwilling to take part in the trial. It seems the P&C group wanted to introduce biometric identification rather than the Department of Education. Hello parents and citizens: are you well-informed enough about the dangers of biometric identification before you happily give consent to your kid being bar-coded, finger swiped and all? If not, read this blog under the categories of biometric identification, surveillance, RFID and privacy!!

Thankfully, the Department of Education has called a halt to this stupidity and is now reviewing just how thoroughly (or not) the school consulted its students and their parents before scaring the hell out of them. Shame on my old high school!

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Entry filed under: Biometric identification, Schools and schoolchildren.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brad Lorge  |  April 12, 2008 at 2:46 am

    Thanks for the kind words Kim! I’d say for the most part KCAHS is still a great school. There have been of late a lot of incidents of poor management but I’m still a happy student. You have a great blog here, definitely subscribing right now.

    Reply
  • 2. Pippa  |  April 12, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Hi ThinkingShift – Great post – I’ve linked to you form my blog which is specific to biometrics in schools.

    These same techniques have been used here in the UK too. Here it’s used for libraries, canteen and registration. Some children who have objected to have their biometrics used for food are denied use of the canteen.

    My two children were nearly fingerprinted without my knowledge when they were 5 & 6 years old for library use. The school they were at was so small it was a useless waste of money, anyway I spotted the finger scanner in the library and stopped them for being fingerprinted. Scarey to think that schools can do this to children and store their biometric data on a school PC without parents knowledge.

    Let’s face it when schools get broken into it’s not pens and paper that are pinched but computers. My children’s biometrics need to be secure for their lifetime and a school PC is not adequate to store this data (also given our UK apauling track record of data security even if it was secure that’s no guarentee of their identity being compromised).

    But, Brad, well done you for sticking to your principles. It mustn’t have been easy – well done 🙂

    Reply
  • 3. Harry U.K  |  April 12, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    I would never have believed that this sinister use of biometrics in schools would have taken hold in Australia, a country of no nonsense straight talking people. Sadly, many schools worldwide seem to be adopting Stasi style tactics towards parents and students who dare to question. Nice one Brad, but try and get some of your mates to join you next time they try this.

    Reply
  • 4. thinkingshift  |  April 15, 2008 at 3:16 am

    good on you Brad, glad to see that a young guy from my old school has said NO to insidious biometric testing! Hopefully your friends will do the same. Keep me informed of how things progress at my old alma mater!
    Kim

    Reply
  • 5. thinkingshift  |  April 15, 2008 at 3:19 am

    Hi Pippa

    Thx for your comment & I’ll definitely check out your blog. Keep up the good work of raising awareness around biometric identification. Kiddies were denied the use of the canteen if they objected to biometrics? SHOCKING! We need more chaps like Brad to stand up in the schools and say NO.
    Kim

    Reply
  • 6. Gavin  |  June 25, 2008 at 7:16 am

    I was in Disneyworld last week, and was fingerprinted going into the parks (so that I didn’t share my ticket with anyone). I felt a bit weird about that, wasn’t sure if I should have objected- and if I did object, would I be able to enter?

    Reply
  • 7. thinkingshift  |  June 25, 2008 at 10:46 am

    What??? Fingerprinted going into a theme park? Unbelievable Gavin. Probably if you objected, they’d kick you out or refuse entry. But just another example of how stupid this society is becoming with its obsession to keep us feeling we’re controlled, monitored, tracked. I might try to email Disneyworld to ask why they do this – I wonder what response I’d get! Thx for telling me about your experience.
    Kim

    Reply
  • 8. Rachel  |  July 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I go to sixth form at a school in England that today took everybody’s fingerprints. I am disgusted by the idea, and refused, but they are attempting to intimidate and threaten the small group of students who have opposed it. We are being told it is compulsory and that there is no alternative (the company, VeriCool are coming back in September to take new students and so we are being expected to give our fingerprints at that time instead).

    The fact that they have not asked for any sort of consent makes it appear so underhand – like there is something to hide.

    Even if everything is genuine, I do not want my fingerprints (or finger “scans” or whatever they want to call them) on record.

    Reply
  • 9. thinkingshift  |  July 12, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Rachel I hope you fight this out! keep refusing and keep me updated on what happens when Vericool return to your school. Find other students who object like you – band together and refuse!!

    Reply

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