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Wed, June 19

Editorial: Mingus badge issue a clash between earned-privilege vs. entitlement

Some clarity is in order to shine the clearest light possible on the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona challenge to Mingus Union High School’s badge identification policy.

While the ACLU’s alleged injustices references “students” plural, this complaint deals with only one student.

The ACLU’s repeated references to this student being singled out and given a “scarlet” badge is an over-dramatization of the simple reality that Mingus student ID badges are red and gray based on school colors.

The ACLU also claims the red-badge designation is a proclamation the student has academic shortcomings. It takes for granted that a student who has attended Mingus for three years should be classified as a junior. The reality is that a true junior is a student who has earned at least 12 credits toward graduation.

Red badges are given to students who are classified as freshmen and sophomores based on the number of credits they have earned toward graduation. Likewise, gray badges are given to students who have earned the required number of credits to be classified as upperclassmen.

Emphasis needs to be placed on the word “earned” here. Gray badges are not an entitlement at Mingus just because you’ve been going to school there for three or more years. Gray badges allow legitimate upperclassmen to leave campus during the school lunch hour, a privilege they have earned.

As a point of comparison, this red-gray student badge issue parallels many other policies at Mingus for which the emphasis is on academic achievement and the principle that privilege is earned.

Mingus athletes, for example, have their grades scrutinized on a weekly basis to determine if they are allowed to participate in games. Just like students with red badges who are not allowed to go off campus for lunch, Mingus athletes who are grade challenged lose the privilege of participating in games.

At Mingus, the same weekly grade-check rule that applies to athletes likewise applies to cheerleaders. If the grades are not up to standard, cheerleaders have to sit out a game, or games, just as the players do.

This philosophy at Mingus even trickles down to extra-curricular activities such as theater. MUHS Theater Director James Ball says students on school production cast lists face the same weekly grade-check scrutiny that athletes and cheerleaders do. For those young thespians whose academic progress is insufficient, they must attend the school’s Power Hour study hall four times a week before they are allowed to participate in rehearsals. Obviously, student actors who don’t rehearse are not going to find their way to the stage in front of an audience.

Such policies at Mingus are not designed to embarrass or humiliate students, as is claimed by the ACLU of Arizona.

Rather, they are part of a learning process that shows there are consequences, just as there are rewards, for the choices you make.

There is probably nothing else more important the folks at Mingus should be teaching their students.

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