Are we Names or Numbers?
Is it possible to have all of your legal information on one card? Yes, it’s called the REAL ID Act and it’s passed the Senate and was put into effect last January by the DHS to begin replacing state driver’s licenses in favor of a national I.D. card to enter Federal buildings and travel on airplanes, according to Nation Conference of State Legislatures. Is this the beginning of an Orwellian system control grid? Maybe. Will we see something like this here at Hanover High School? Probably not, says Dean of Students Ian Smith. Despite this being more of a Building and Grounds decision, Mr. Smith gave me very valuable information regarding the proposed system.
To be clear, the student tracking I.D. card is very different from our current student I.D.s which we are given with our student pictures. The tracking card idea first came up several years ago as a way to keep better track of students as they go off campus. Rather than signing out at Ford’s desk, a student would swipe their card on a card reader before leaving the building. The reader would keep a record of every swipe and read it for trends of what time a student would sign out for how many times on what day. This data would then be read by staff upon the request of a parent if a student’s grades are declining or even theoretically by the police for an investigation of a student.
While all of this sounds like a good idea to a parent or administrator, there are several issues that come with this system, says Mr. Smith. For starters, the cost would be tremendous. Think in the range of many thousands of dollars; more money than a school would want to admit, in the case of the Lebanon School District. However, Mr. Smith’s main concern is a philosophical rather than a financial one.
“We’re not that kind of school,” he repeated many times during the interview. Mr. Smith feels that it is more important to have the school project a welcoming message to the community rather than a restrictive one, which the tracking card system would inevitably bring. He also added that he likes to view students as having a name and distinct personality rather than just being a number.
Whether question of tracking I.D. cards is a financial one, practical one, or philosophical one, the idea has been put on hold indefinitely for the time being at HHS.