This won't hurt, it's for your own good.
November 5, 2006 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Fingerprinting school kids for lunch. Several schools in California will require students to scan their fingerprints before getting their school lunch to help speed up cafeteria lines. Don't worry about it, it's already being done in Georgia while Florida has a similar system which also lets parents check to see what their kids bought for lunch. Arizona doesn't do fingerprints, it just has the kids enter a number for their meals. New Jersey has Iris Scanning.

Hopefully all of this information was gained through parental consent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Best idea I've seen so far to get tracking data for the entire population.

/sarcasm off
posted by Octoparrot at 4:23 PM on November 5, 2006


This is just so wrong, and not to make too many blanket statements unfairly against the more enlightened members of the states in question, but is it any surprise which states are early adopters of this?

I have seen around me, a number of new programs sponsored by the police, in which children are being finger-printed 'to help them if they are kidnapped' by pedophiles. Its infuriating and mind-boggling that parents would fall for this.
posted by sfts2 at 4:26 PM on November 5, 2006


And this helps speed up the lunch line how?.. By having kids line up at the fingerprint machine before they get to the lunch line? WTF?

If they want efficiency they'll have to do the obvious thing and stamp or brand a barcode on the little buggers' foreheads.
posted by clevershark at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2006


If they get 'em used to it young, they'll squak less when they grown up.
posted by keswick at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2006


Agreed. This has nothing to do with efficiency and everything to do with conditioning.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:33 PM on November 5, 2006


also lets parents check to see what their kids bought for lunch.

Damn , if you don't trust your kid to tell you the truth and need to spy over THE LUNCH, how do you trust they are not going to lie to you ALL the time for more relevant events !?

Parenting is a lot more then just checking if your kid still didn't kill himself !
posted by elpapacito at 4:38 PM on November 5, 2006


...and in other news, thousands of Florida schoolchildren ordered tater tots and ended up paying for french fries (are we calling them that again Barbara? Ha ha ha). Authorities are quoted as looking into the matter.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:42 PM on November 5, 2006


sfts2: I was fingerprinted in elementary school (NJ circa 1985) for the same bogus reason; these programs may be ludicrous, but they're not new. Also keep in mind that many suburban parents would cheerfully part with several constitutional amendments and a randomly-selected limb if they thought it would keep their babies safe.
posted by phooky at 4:49 PM on November 5, 2006


My public school district in Missouri did the number-punching thing; the logic behind that was that you could put money into your school account and then use it to pay for your meals, so you didn't have to bring lunch money everyday.
posted by luftmensch at 4:51 PM on November 5, 2006


I almost wish I was born later so I could go to these prison-industrial complex panopticon-o-tronic schools just so I could fuck with all the cool toys.

"Jimmy! JAMES TIBERIUS SPOONFONDLE! Why does your lunch-log show that you purchased 500 pudding cups today?"
posted by loquacious at 4:54 PM on November 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


"My public school district in Missouri did the number-punching thing; the logic behind that was that you could put money into your school account and then use it to pay for your meals, so you didn't have to bring lunch money everyday."

As does my school in WI. The elite even get their own line, while us luddites must suffer in the slow, congested lines.
posted by niles at 5:03 PM on November 5, 2006


I would have thought they would have started this in a college setting where cheating is a lot more prevalent and damaging rather than making sure Junior got his tater tots.
posted by fenriq at 5:17 PM on November 5, 2006


If they want efficiency they'll have to do the obvious thing and stamp or brand a barcode on the little buggers' foreheads.

Why do that when the Lord has already seen fit to make us with our own unique barcodes on our fingertips?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:20 PM on November 5, 2006


I can kind of see the logic: kids can't forget to bring their fingers to school.
posted by smackfu at 5:21 PM on November 5, 2006


The surveillance society marches on.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:26 PM on November 5, 2006


I'm all for getting information back to parents about what their children are consuming at school, but this has to be the creepiest slipperiest slopest way to go about it. And as others have said, the justification about speeding up the line is Orwellian and makes no sense.
posted by Falconetti at 5:49 PM on November 5, 2006


My parents refused to have me fingerprinted in elementary school. The PTA's whispering campaign branded them kidnapping-promoters and child-neglecters, and I had to sit out recess for a few weeks (you know, because the kidnappers would somehow know which kid wasn't fingerprinted). That sucked. Of course, it enabled me to go about my career as a high-priced catburglar-for-hire unimpeded by fears about leaving fingerprints behind.
posted by I Am Not a Lobster at 5:55 PM on November 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


They fingerprinted kids at my elementary school in the early 80s, but It was just one set of prints onto a cardboard form, and they sent that home with/to the parents. As far as I know, the police department didn't keep any of the records. Seems like an easy enough workaround, although it doesn't do a damned thing about lunch.
posted by dilettante at 6:08 PM on November 5, 2006



Here too, the prints are entrusted to the parents so they can give them back to the police if the kid ever goes missing.
posted by Mitheral at 8:32 PM on November 5, 2006


My favorite part is the Floyd-inspired campaign group Leave Them Kids Alone.
posted by blastrid at 8:43 PM on November 5, 2006


Why the hell do lunch lines need to go faster?
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:14 PM on November 5, 2006


Why the hell do lunch lines need to go faster?
Is that a serious question?
If so, here is the serious answer: because in big schools with rotating lunch periods, maybe 15 or 20 minutes is allowed for lunch. If it takes 15 or 20 minutes to get through the line...
posted by Cranberry at 9:56 PM on November 5, 2006


Because, Citizen Premier, the schedule may allow only half an hour for lunch, so they don't want it to take twenty minutes for kids to get through the line.

When I was partway through high school, we got a system that looks sort of like that Arizona school's. We had the option of paying in cash without entering a number, though, which must reassure some of you. Still, entering the code definitely sped up the line -- with cash, kids have to dig out crumpled bills, they drop change, if they're little they're never sure if they're counting correctly -- it takes forever.

This system is also handy for keeping track of what you're buying, although at my high school, records were never sent home automatically or anything. But once, after putting $20 in my account, I was surprised to find it had run out sooner than usual. I asked for a printout of my transactions, and that told me I'd bought lunch for a friend a couple of times. Oh yeah.

Now I'm in college and we just swipe our ID cards to pay for lunch (or pay with cash, or a credit/debit card, or whatever). I don't see a big difference. I'm not really skeeved out by it, and I say that as a person who steers clear of EZ-Pass. How's it different from a debit card, or from Paypal?

is it any surprise which states are early adopters of this?

-Georgia
-California
-Florida
-New Jersey
-Arizona
-Connecticut

...I got nothin'.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:00 PM on November 5, 2006


Why the hell do lunch lines need to go faster?
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:14 PM PST on November 5


How long did you get for lunch period when you were in school, CP? For me it was 20 minutes, though if you were buying your lunch it was a ten to fifteen minute ordeal through long lines. And that isn't taking in time it took to walk if you weren't fortunate enough to have a class close to the lunch area. Mind you, this was at a campus with some 2000 students all sharing the same lunch period, so maybe it's better in smaller schools. Of course, this was two years ago, and I imagine that my HS has only grown in population since then.

On the days that I did decide to buy lunch I would have been grateful for anything that would have sped up the process. Not that this would do anything of course.

Those of you of a certain age who like to brag about how non-overprotective your parents were when you were little and how you and all the kids in your neighborhood jumped off of rusty iron play equipment helmetless on your bikes and unsupervised while chugging codeine cough syrup from a bottle without a childproof cap or whatever the hell you did during your halcyon days...try to remember that it's your generation pulling all this hysterical Orwellian crap in the name of their children right now.
posted by kosher_jenny at 10:09 PM on November 5, 2006


> How's it different from a debit card, or from Paypal?

I'd say Government versus private party? Otherwise, not so much.

As far as what my comment related to early adopter states meant, I guess what I was alluding to was my perception of a high degree of Red state attitudes. eg. tough on crime, domestic survillance, fear of minorities, control etc. Definitely a visceral reaction as opposed to thoughtful analysis. I did also mean my point as a question.

Living in CT, with two kids in school, I have not heard of any school lunch fingerprinting in this state. Where did this come from?
posted by sfts2 at 10:39 PM on November 5, 2006


I don't get it.
Why is storing a child's fingerprints bad, but storing their photo (which I assume schools in the US do) is a-ok?

What sort of biometrics are "safe" to store, and what sort are "unsafe"?

It's easier to change or conceal your fingerprints than your face, after all.
posted by spazzm at 11:21 PM on November 5, 2006


I guess what I was alluding to was my perception of a high degree of Red state attitudes

Yeah, I figured -- but it struck me as funny because the FPP mentioned three red states (Georgia, Florida, Arizona) and two blue states (California, New Jersey), from all different areas of the country (North, South, West, Southwest).

Like I said, the CT program I used was like Arizona's: you're not fingerprinted; you just type in your account number.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:22 PM on November 5, 2006


Sheep to slaughter.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:52 PM on November 5, 2006


I don't have any problem with an account number. Its vastly different than fingerprints. I don't believe the prints are not stored, but again, thats my gut only, and I'm pretty cynical these days.

Also, although I guess CA and NJ are Blue, I think of them in the same way in a few regards. California will re-elect a Repub governer in a landslide. NJ acts like a red state in areas of crime control it seems to me. It was just a gut reaction.

spazzm, you bring up a valid point, most schools photograph kids, but they don't store the photos, TOO MY KNOWLEDGE. Also, there isn't an international database of kids faces accessible to all police.

Not sure if ability to recognize a face biometrically changes or degrades as kids age. I know once they are full grown, it can be done.

The whole idea just pisses me off. Can't wait for Tuesday.
posted by sfts2 at 12:40 AM on November 6, 2006


The whole idea just pisses me off. Can't wait for Tuesday.

So you can what, vote in those state's local elections? This is a state level at most issue, not federal.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:03 AM on November 6, 2006


If they want to speed up the lunch line than the prepaid cards Asda used in the staff canteen when I worked for them seven years ago would be better. They were just electronic cash, with no tie in to which card belonged to who. You put the card into a reader into which you inserted coins; the sum of which was stored on the card. You then inserted the card into another reader at the till in the canteen which deducted the value of your lunch from the sum on the card. Quick and simple and no need for machiavellian nutcases. There was no indication on the card how much money was on it and staff policy recommended keeping only a little money on it at a time - so they weren't even attractive for stealing either.
posted by talitha at 5:16 AM on November 6, 2006


I'm all for getting information back to parents about what their children are consuming at school

How about the slightly more ambitious plan of not serving any junk to the kids in the first place? I realize this would cut off a good amount of side-funding from the Coke, Pepsi, Mars, and other companies, but this is the only solution that actually does something useful for the kids. Serve good food. If it isn't good - don't serve it.
posted by odinsdream at 6:45 AM on November 6, 2006


The only context in which I could see this as a good idea is if it were primarily meant to stop bullying. A bigger kid can take your lunch money or prepaid card, he can extort your punch code number from you under duress, but he'd have to be a sadistic fuck indeed to take your fingers or iris.

I didn't like the idea of school uniforms when I was a student, now that I'm older I can see the benefits (at the cost of individuality, of course). Having said that, aside from the bullying aspect I can't see myself liking this measure any time soon.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:22 AM on November 6, 2006


most schools photograph kids, but they don't store the photos, TO MY KNOWLEDGE
Mine does. Everyone has a 4/5 digit number that they type in to buy lunch, and then our picture pops up on a computer screen so the lunch lady can make sure we're not stealing each other's lunches. Also, the attendance program has our pictures in it, presumably so subsititutes can tell who is who, in case kids decide to switch places. They don't, however, have my fingerprints on file.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:16 PM on November 6, 2006


I hadn't thought a whole lot about my school having my photo on file until the year I had my eyes closed for school pictures and I had to tolerate a year of people laughing at it. Honestly, I've been in the same school system since kindergarden, so I'm sure they have way more sensitive information about me than that.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2006


keswick, EatTheWeak, re: conditioning; Falconetti, re: slippery slopiness...

A few weeks ago someone posted a link to this Zimbardo documentary and while listening to it, I was really struck by the instructions given at about 4:35:

I had to explain to the guards... [that they] can create a notion of arbitrariness, that their life is totally controlled by us, by the system, you, me... that they'll have no privacy at all... there'll be constant surveillance. Nothing they do will go unobserved. ... they can do nothing or say... nothing that we don't (1G)... gonna take away their individuality in various ways. In general what all of this leads to is a sense of powerlessness, that is, we have total power in the situation and they have none.


Which is not to say that elementary kids necessarily need to feel empowered against The System... but I don't think they should be trained to be completely servile straight out of the gate.

This is also similar to my usual response to the "if you have nothing to hide..." crowd as well... As a person who is not a prisoner, I resent being treated like one.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 2:32 PM on November 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Which is not to say that elementary kids necessarily need to feel empowered against The System...

The fuck they don't.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:43 PM on November 6, 2006


As much as this makes me uncomfortable... we have a fingerprint scanner here at my job which is used for "punch-in, punch-out" instead of time cards or time sheets. It's a lot faster and obviously more accurate.

I was wary of the whole thing, so I talked to our IT guy about it, since he set up and implemented the system. Our particular system does not actually store an image of your fingerprint anywhere; instead it grabs a mathematical pattern of points from your fingerprint when you touch the scanner, and compares it to a "master" pattern which was created when we first set up the system.

To create that master pattern, we touched the same finger to the scanner 3 times, and then the computer concatenates the patterns from those scans. When you press your finger to the scanner after that master pass, it just compares the point pattern like a checksum, rather than superimposing two images and comparing them (which is much more computationally intensive).

So, this system may not actually be scanning and storing fingerprint images. Our system here at work was pretty inexpensive, and works well for about 150 people. I would think that a system based on actual images, as opposed to numerical derivations created on the fly by the scanner, would be very, very expensive and not something any school would or could buy on today's budgets.

Here's the software we use, if you're curious.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:33 PM on November 6, 2006


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