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For anyone who has dreamed of stashing a tracking device in their kid's knapsack, a few American school districts have you beat.

For kids who habitually play hooky, at least.

The Anaheim Union School District has just begun a six-week pilot program in which about 75 Grade 7 and 8 students with four "unexcused absences" have been asked to carry a hand-held GPS device, according to a piece in the Orange County Register.

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Every morning, the school-skippers get an automated phone call reminding them to, well, get to school. After that, the kids have to enter a code into the GPS five times a day. The program does include one non-Brave-New-World tactic: visits with a coach to discuss their progress.

For now, the program is voluntary - although the alternatives include prosecution and a potential stay in juvenile hall and fines, according to the piece.

One mother of a boy in the program told the paper, "I understand that he's been missing class. He's one of six children, and we can't always keep an eye on him. I think this is a good idea that will help him."

In other school districts where the GPS experiment has been tried, including San Antonio, Texas, the average attendance among the "chronically truant" jumped from 77 per cent to 95 per cent, the piece reports.

The stats don't impress some observers - Gawker writer Adrian Chen, for one.

"This is great. We should just stop pretending that any kids actually could want to go to school and invest in more and more elaborate tracking devices for them. All teachers should get an iPhone app with little blips showing where all their kids are. Twice every day assistant principals can roam the land with tranquilizer darts and 4x4s and bring in the truants."

Does forcing a kid to carry a GPS sound like a good idea? Or too extreme?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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