Stamping out compassion

The practice of shaming the poor continues to embed itself in the national psyche as something normal and acceptable.

Students at a charter school in Colorado are currently branded with a scarlet letter of poverty if they do not have enough money in their lunch account. This mortifying policy only results in humiliation for the student and possible torment from their peers. The principal who actively tried to put an end to this demeaning policy has been subsequently fired.

Noelle Roni, former principal of Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, Colo., was fired after demanding the termination of the school policy which humiliated and degraded the students in her school, according to an article by the Huffington Post.

The policy required children to have their hands stamped when they did not have enough money in their lunch accounts. Once Roni witnessed the effects hand stamping had on students, she called for a change.

Roni recognized this policy was extremely harmful to the well-being of students, and many others agree upon hearing her story.

“The students felt so humiliated, like they had done something wrong. They didn’t want to go into the lunchroom anymore. It’s unethical and disrespectful,” Roni said in an interview with the Boulder Daily Camera.

In recent years especially, bullying has been identified as a serious problem throughout our nation’s schools. A stamp on a student’s hand that signifies his or her family does not have enough money to pay for lunch is certain to catch the attention of bullies, and offers another reason for students to harass their peers.

Despite the fact Roni served as principal for more than eight years, the director of education fired Roni when she refused to overlook the new policy. Roni calls it wrongful termination and wants her job back, according to an article by CBS News.

Many can relate to the experience of receiving reduced lunch tickets at school, and choosing to hide it from classmates. However, students in Colorado cannot hide these stamps printed on their hand and must look at them the rest of the school day. Fortunately, there are individuals like Roni who refuse to discount the feelings of children, and call upon the public to fight against policies that demean students.

 If students are choosing to skip lunch rather than be humiliated by their peers, something is obviously wrong. Peak to Peak Charter School’s new policy is a prime example of the subtle ways certain factions of society continue to shame the poor.

-Ashley Lynn Fisher is a junior English major from Gig Harbor. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this Column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.