You have heard me say it nine million times that I love my job, and it is true! I love my job, I have wanted to be a teacher since the first day of kindergarten. It is what I was meant to do, but as with any other job out there, I have parts of my job that I don't love so much. The one that I keeps coming up a lot in the news and in social media is dress code. I hate dress code, doubly hate, loathe it entirely (thanks Dr. Seuss)! There are just so many ways that we have taken a black and white issue and turned it into a level with so many grays. You can wear this, but make sure it meets this, this, and this standard.
Please know, that just because I hate dealing with dress code issues, by no means do I not enforce it. This is something that my administration, whose authority and leadership I trust, has charged me to do. What I don't like about dress code, is how it has become an "us against them issue." What I don't like about dress code, is they are bigger fish to fry. We have kids that have fallen through the cracks and are middle school and can't read. We have students whose behavior keeps them from learning. We have students that come to school hungry. We have students that come to school dealing with unbelievable amounts of pain. Compared to all of that dress code, just seems so small. It has become an almost daily thing that I will get on Facebook and Twitter and find friends that have shared or tweeted articles regarding dress code. They all say the same thing. Schools are crazy, we discriminate against girls, have made excuses for boys, and we are just out of touch with reality. THIS MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL! We are charged with educating and making students better people. If this means we tell them to change their clothes because they broke the rules, does not make us out of touch. This means that we are preparing children for the work force, because if they are out of dress code they can be fired, or in some industries cause harm to themselves and others.
One of the most recent dress code debates I found on BuzzFeed that involved a girl from a New Brunswick, Canada high school. Here is the article. http://www.buzzfeed.com/tanyachen/canadian-teen-dress-code-rebuttal#.wcgxMk3mm
I know...really MegLo, BuzzFeed as a news source but this thing was all over social media.
So here are my issues. She could have simply put on a sweater. I have researched and researched for the perspective of the administrator in question, but I have found nothing. What I believe that truly happened was the girl was given the detention because she failed to comply with directions. In a perfect world, all of our students would do what we ask of them to do the first time, but we do not live in a perfect world. If you are an educator and your students listen to you the first time, you win the best teacher ever award. If she refused to follow directions after being told by a teacher and then an administrator, then yes disciplinary action is needed.
So the questions that we need to ask- are we purposely discriminating against girls? Are we placing unfair standards against girls? Are we using the idea that boys can't control themselves as a crutch?
I do not believe that we are purposely discriminating against girls, but there are more dress code rules for girls simply because their are more clothing options for girls. I also do not believe that we have placed unfair standards on girls. Girls and society have placed those standards on themselves. Have you been to a department store? Look at what is popular for girls to wear, If wore something like that to work, children would be screaming "my eyes, they burn!" However this is not an excuse, their are man inexpensive ways to make dress code violating outfits within dress code. For the love, just put on a sweater. I have never heard one of my administrators say that girls and their dress code issues are causing boy to not be able to control themselves. Hello!!! I teach middle school. Someone please bring to me a middle school boy that is great at self-control, because I don't think that they exist! Under this young lady's argument, boys should be sent home. There would be no boys at school.
There are many battles that educators are facing. But is dress code a hill that we want to die on? For the love, I can tell you this educator does not want to die on that hill. In my ideal world, no one can wear shorts to school, boys and girls, Everyone wears pants! Also all tank tops come with a cute little matching sweater just in case. Boys will keep their pants up, and no one would wear beer shirts. Do I have all the answers, nope. Not in the slightest. I have no clue what to do or how to move forward. There are people way smarter than myself that I can tell you where to go from here, ahem Ashley Bowser.
I tell my students that when I have to send you to the office for a dress code check, you are out of my classroom and missing instruction. You are missing chances to learn really cool music and chances to become a better singer and person. So for the love, put some clothes on, you are disrupting the educational process.