School officials defend the use of color-coded student badges and say it is not “punitive” is the headline of an NBC News article about a high school that forced students who were behind on credits to wear a read identification badge.
Happily, I read on Twitter today (via Mary Jimenez) that the ACLU just forced the school district to eliminate that ridiculous policy.
Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long line of efforts by schools to punish students with a Scarlet Letter. You can see my past posts on those terrible policies, which include explanations of why they are so terrible – if you need them.
It seems that the wording of the headline and much of the story are misleading. Students are not being forced to wear specific badges of failure. Rather, students who do not have enough credits to be a junior are not being given a junior ID badge which earns more privileges such as off-campus lunch.
It’s an unfortunate coincidence that the badge is red. But what is wrong with telling students “these are the requirements to be a junior”? For example, should a student who fails all classes as a freshmen be considered a sophomore anyways? Even if they are a 2nd-year student sitting in freshmen English, should we call them sophomores? Doesn’t that draw attention to them even more? “Tomorrow class, freshmen will be in a class meeting. But not you Johnny. Remember, you’re a sophomore.”
Of course this isn’t a solution to getting students to pass classes, but what is wrong with saying that privileges need to be earned?