We’ve been tracking Reason TV’s Nanny of the Month for years — and this month, tracking is the right word to use. Two of this month’s three finalists involve mandated government tracking via GPS and/or RFID, but the winner is Northside School District’s requirement for students to wear RFID tags to attend class. Are they concerned with safety issues, such as unauthorized departures or abductions? Not really — they’re more concerned about getting their share of government cash:
This month’s lineup of of busybodies includes the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where administrators may ban booze in dorms–even for students of legal drinking age (guess those college kids would just stay dry!). Then there’s Chi-Town, where officials are using GPS devices to track food trucks to make sure they don’t wander within 200 feet of any fixed businesses that sell food, including convenience stores. Violators could face fines of $2,000. Compare that to the $100 fine you’d face for parking in front of a fire hydrant and you get an idea for just how seriously city officials take the threat of competition. (Good thing the Institute for Justice is on the case.)
But this time the nanny of the month comes to us from deep in the heart of Texas, where administrators at San Antonio’s Northside school district are tracking kids with radio frequency identification chips. Dozens of electronic readers have been installed in the school’s ceiling panels to keep tabs on the kiddos while they’re at school. The official number-one reason for going RFID is to “increase student safety and security,” but–since district funding goes up when attendance goes up–it’s clearly all about the Benjamins.
With school-based tracking going back to at least 2004, the Lone Star State has been something of an RFID trailblazer. In fact, Northside is considering expanding the program to cover all of the district’s 97,000 students.
I’m actually OK with the University of Wisconsin’s consideration of a booze ban. While some students are legally able to purchase alcohol, there’s no requirement for schools to allow these students to keep booze in the school’s dorms. The university has private-property rights, too, even public universities. If students want to have their own wet bar, they can rent an apartment rather than live on campus. Such a policy might have some negative consequences — Reason argues that it might cause more off-campus drunkenness and unsafe driving, and enforcement might be a big problem — but it’s hardly a nanny-state policy to tell students who live on campus to keep alcohol out of the dorms, especially when most college students aren’t legally supposed to possess it at all.
Otherwise, I think Reason chose well. What do you think? Pick your winner from this month’s finalists: