What happened to roll call?
Now, 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!