“The name is Bond, James Bond. And I’m your new principal.”
Sounds like a bad movie, doesn’t it? Still, this is the 21st century, and anything is possible. For instance, there are a lot of people in the education world who appear to be giving Mr. Bond a run for his money.
That’s particularly true in Britain, the home of the world’s most famous fictional superspy. Here, where the government has spent nearly half a billion dollars putting surveillance cameras on every street corner, there’s a move to use James Bond-style gadgets to stop cheating on high-stakes tests.
So reports the Telegraph News. Exams, it says, have been “tagged with radio transmitters and microscopic identification to ensure they reach the right school.” There also are plans to add high-tech locks to exam shipping boxes, which school personnel could open only with secret codes transmitted from mobile phones.
No word yet if exams will self-destruct five seconds after grading.
More personal spying tactics also are being used across the Pond. One local government council near the southern coast of Britain, okayed spying on a family suspected of lying about their place of residence in order to get their child into a popular school. The News reported spies even observed the family home at night and took “copious” notes of the movements of family members who were referred to as “targets” as they were followed.
Officials justified their actions as allowed by the country’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, passed by Parliament to allow law enforcement agencies to fight organized crime and terrorism. After all, you can’t be too careful about those pesky 3-year-olds.
Will we soon see similar stories pop up in the U.S.? We have already. Indeed, my favorite is a decade-old one from the New York Times, involving a diligent California school official who staked out a biology room window and relied on a shoulder-held video camera with a zoom lens in hopes of catching the wayward souls dropping cigarette butts on the school baseball field.
Wait for it: Spying 101, the latest college course prerequisite for aspiring educators.
Del Stover, Senior Editor