Students at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Arizona, are protesting a new school policy that they feel is creating division and shame within their school. Although students have always been required to wear colored badges identifying their name and grade, there was a new change to the policy this school year. Students are now required to wear a red badge if their grades are not up to snuff or they are falling behind their fellow classmates in academics. The policy has reportedly created a stigma that students with red badges are lazy or less intelligent, according to Today.
Seventeen-year-old Jordan Pickett was one of the students required to wear a red badge throughout the school day. Due to needing to miss school for some doctors visits, her grades began to slide. She immediately became uncomfortable with the policy, knowing that it would make it easier to bully or look down upon students who were underperforming. She believes the policy creates a division among students and creates a hostile learning environment.
I don't understand why this high school has differentiated colored badges for students' academic progress. It is nobody's business, but the student and family. The "scarlet badge" sets students apart. Read this and see if you can make sense of this!! https://t.co/9sGTrPG3Yx
— Sherra Maneri (@SherraManeri) January 8, 2019
Pickett and her 16-year-old friend and fellow student Jonah Ray decided to speak to the school board about their concerns regarding the new school rule.
“They told them their concerns about the red badges and how bullying was happening,” Pickett’s mother Jennifer Lansman said. “My daughter is not exactly the outspoken, loud type. So for her to go and do that it was a very big step. It bothered Jordan immediately. The bullying wasn’t necessarily directed at her personally. It was something she was upset that her friends were going through.”
When the school board declined to change the hurtful policy, the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in.
“The District’s scarlet badge policy in which it publicly identifies and shames underperforming students, does not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate educational interest,” said Kathleen Brody, legal director for the ACLU of Arizona. Meanwhile, the school district denies that it violated any rights of students by the implementation of the school badge policy.
Parenting expert for Today Dr. Deborah Gilboa spoke about the detrimental consequences that the policy could yield if it continues.
“You open up a culture in school where shame is viable. This is bullying. It is repetitive and it is intentionally causing pain from a place of social power. You get that disappointed look from the one teacher that is proud of you,” she said. “It leads to more opportunities for disenfranchisement.”