Microchips, Surveillance & School Uniforms

Peace Family:

I’m up late reading a book about high-stakes testing in education (1st ed., p. 81) and I come across some interesting information: Microchips placed in students’ school uniforms.  After I read this, I immediately googled ‘microchips in student uniforms’ and interestingly enough, a few hits popped up.

Now from what’s being reported on Google, I don’t see any incidents of this happening here in the States–as this is primarily happening in Brazil and in the UK.  The reasoning for these microchips–AS REPORTED–is to track students’ location to ensure to parents that the child is staying in class and not ditching.  To me, that’s malarkey.

My reading of this phenomenon is that the microchip is used to keep a close monitoring on students’ bodies in an effort to track them for social reproduction sorting purposes.  This, I argue, is part of a larger attempted goal of controlling the body, controlling one’s knowledge, and even to an extent, an attempt to control one’s existence.  If you have not read Discipline & Punish by Michel Foucault, I highly suggest it.  In this book, Foucault talks about a myriad of topics as they relate to the concept of dicipline & punishment within the prison system, but one concept that he is famously known for is that of surveillance.  Foucault essentially argues that bodies are surveyed within a social space or institution in order to promote a docile body that can then be controlled, used/misused/abused, and exploited for a myriad of reasons.  (I also thought it was interesting that Foucault’s inspiration of writing this book derived from his observations & analyses of the Attica Prison uprisings that took place in Attica, NY in 1971).

I draw on Foucault’s theory of surveillance here to question why STUDENTS are wearing clothes that have a tracking device microchip sewed into their uniformed shirts.  In one article I read, it said that a school in Brazil spent over $600,000 to “install” these microchips into students’ uniforms–what in the hell?!?!  With all of the issues and problems going on in public education, a school decided to spend their bread on microchips?!?  That doesn’t sound right.

Is this coming to America too?

~~Dr. Manning

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