California schools track kids truancy with GPS

By Jeanne Sager | The Stir

DOE Enforcer. For the last few years, there's been an increasingly common complaint among schools: in the midst of a recession, the biggest source of school funding has begun to evaporate. Student truancy's are depriving schools and districts of millions of dollars in funding every year.

That’s what they’re doing at California’s Anaheim Union High School District. Kids in the seventh and eighth grades with four or more unexcused absences are being assigned GPS trackers to carry. The kids get a phone call each morning from the school system reminding them to get their butts to school. AND throughout the day, they’re required to enter a code tracking their location.

OK. OK. I get it. Truancy is bad. It’s a direct warning sign that a kid is in danger of being a dropout. Figures from 2008 (the latest available from the U.S. Department of Education) show an estimated 8 percent of kids 16 and up are high school dropouts, with no diploma and no GED. So it’s no wonder they’re taking it very seriously in Anaheim.

But GPS trackers? This isn’t Oz! The average seventh grader is just 12 or 13 years old. If they’re skipping school, there is probably a bigger problem than their location at one particular time (which I should note Anaheim is also addressing with a counselor who calls the kids three times a week — I wish they’d left it at that).

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