Tagged and sorted

Tagged and sorted

Who thought this was a good idea? A Maryland high school requires students to wear color-coded IDs based on certain criteria. Seniors wear black, magnet school kids (bused in from outside the district) wear white, students with limited English proficiency wear yellow. Oh yeah, that’s not going to cause any problems. What could go wrong?

The campus has been thrown into a state of rhetorical turmoil over the IDs, issued two weeks ago in 11 colors to denote various smaller learning “academies” within the 3,000-student campus.p>

... By color-coding children, school officials hoped to build a sense of identity—and security—in a school whose students have been divided into several smaller learning communities: maroon for future scientists, purple for diplomats in training, dark blue for entrepreneurs and so forth. “What we did, we thought we were doing a good thing,” Principal Phillip Gainous said. But the new color system brought unintended consequences. Students say the system amplifies differences that already divide teenagers of different academic and socioeconomic stripes.

The students at the school newspaper apparently understand what their Baby Boomer administrators don’t:

As the staff of the Silver Chips student newspaper opined in an editorial, “Self-segregation is already an issue in the student body, and the formal distribution of color-coded IDs has essentially institutionalized the phenomenon.”

When kids are already prone to separation into cliques and identity groups—one of the oldest school social realities; jocks, nerds, brains, and druggies; maybe they had different names at other schools—imposing such differences in the form of required identity badges only makes it worse. Instead of dividing them up by arbitrary divisions (after all, can’t someone be a member of more than one group, say a senior magnet student with limited English proficiency but a member of the entrepeneurship group?), the school should be creating a unified culture.

This is the liberal agenda in immigration, affirmative action, and identity politics on a local scale. Liberals think that the way to deal with diversity is by emphasizing the differences. A more traditional and conservative way is to encourage people to hold on to their heritage while emphasizing their unity in one culture, one society, one civilization of shared ideals.

At the Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, maybe they should concentrate on school spirit, their common membership in Maryland society, or even their American heritage if they want to heal divisions and encourage self-confidence and self-esteem. Making kids who have limited English proficiency wear the equivalent of the Scarlet Letter doesn’t accomplish that goal, I think.

Technorati Tags:, , , ,

1 comment