Missouri Edwatch caught this story. At a nearly-empty school board meeting in Chesterfield, Missouri, the Parkway District School Committee approved the mandatory use of GPS tracking devices on district students. While claiming these tracking devices were needed to study student physical activity, board members agreed to implement the use of “Polar Active Devices”, which are essentially ankle bracelets that track a student’s every move. Although the school board’s decision to make students adorn anklets like criminals in house arrest/prison is certainly alarming, what is more alarming is the fact that there was seemingly no discussion as to the legality of the devices- or offering parental waivers- at the meeting. The Parkway School district seems willing and eager to begin implementing its program to track students 24/7 (yes, even while they are at home).
The school claims that these GPS ankle bracelets are necessary in the name of “data collection”. They claim they need to monitor the average physical activity and sleep patterns of all students in order to analyze patterns and behaviors in their sleep and physical activity. The district also anticipates that the results will show a correlation between physical activity and educational achievement. While it is certainly concerning that your local school district may soon have the ability to track your child’s every move, what is equally concerning is where the data will end up. Will the district be maintaining permanent files tracking student movement? Who has access to the data? It is clear that enabling this sort of tracking on America’s young students is a clear transgression of their privacy of families, parents, and children – which we should be trying to protect. There are certainly alternative and better ways for schools/organizations to research student physical activity without locking them into a GPS device. The same mindset of sacrificing privacy on the altar of collection of potentially useful information seems to animate this local decision as much as the Obama Administration’s recent data gathering. Both invert the vision of the American founding by ultimately making families and children accountable to government rather than making governments and public schools accountable to families.
— Jonathan Decker