Friday, August 13, 2010

Changing fashions and the new high school dress code

I tried to attend the Parent Advisory Committee Meeting wherein they talked about modifying the dress code. I went to the Administration building at the time that was specified on the District’s website, but apparently that was the wrong time, because when I got there, the meeting was over.

Had I been in attendance, I would have imparted some of my knowledge on what’s in fashion and what trends the youngster’s are wearing these days. I know Carl Cannon was contacted, but he is not exactly what I would call a fashionista.

In my opinion, some knowledge of what is actually in style is important before you try to institute a dress code. A few examples:

The dress code says pants may be denim – some restrictions should have been placed on ripped jeans. Ripped and deconstructed jeans are all the rage and students will be wearing them come Fall.

The dress code says pants must be fitted. Oh, you will see some fitted pants alright. Have you see the young men busting a sag in skinny jeans (which are fitted). Skinny jeans are hot and catching on.

The dress code says no pants with writing across the back. Have you see the pants with writing across the front and down the leg? You will.

The dress code did not include any restrictions on young men wearing over sized clothing. If your shirt is long enough, it’s difficult to tell if you are busting a sag.

This dress code is too subjective. Administrators will have to work way too hard to enforce it. Ideally, the dress code will need to change with the seasons and fashion, because what youngsters decide is cool and worthy of wearing is constantly changing and you can’t think of everything.


Sharon Crews said...

Let me take a moment for humor to illustrate Emerge's point. In the 1960s at Roosevelt Jr. High, teachers went to the principal to ask if girls would be allowed to wear koulots (sp). The principal, Buck Smith, went immediately to the loud speaker to say, "Attention all teachers and students, there will be no cum laudes at Roosevelt."
Emerge is right; the board needed the advice from those that are up on teenage fashions. There will be so many loopholes that they have not filled.

Emerge Peoria said...

I appreicate what the Parent Advisory Group was attempting to do with deciding to reinforce the dress code. Fashion changes so quickly, more than likely, there will always be something the youngsters like to wear, that adults feel should be restricted in some way.

Given some time and adjustments, with more input from students, the dress code can work.

This approach does leave room for buy in. We'll see what happens.

Rixblix said...

I'm surprised there wasn't a blanket caveat at the end of the dress code saying that it could and would be modified if necessary.

In general, if it's necessary to enforce a strict dress code, I think there are probably some other issues...students not feeling accepted, welcome, understood..etc.

At the Junior High my boys attend(ed), skulls are not allowed on t-shirts. Do you have any idea how many t-shirts have some sort of skull on them? My parents bought souvenir t-shirts for them with pirate-type skulls and they weren't allowed.

Additionally, black nail polish isn't allowed or hair that has been colored an 'un-natural' color (pink, blue, etc....)

What kills me is many of the current administrators surely are my peers and remember the rainbow hair colors and mohawks of the 80's! Those crazy "high and tight" fade haircuts...with the stripes? I had a couple hot pink spots in my hair and safety pins in my ears and I turned out just fine! (Oooh. Wait, bad analogy.)

At our alternative school, we have to choose our battles. In fact, we've relaxed our hat policy...boys are allowed to wear hats. I remind my students of my issues with crack...don't want to see it on my male student's behinds or my female student's chests.

My feeling and experience has been that teenagers have to be allowed to rebel and express individuality. If we don't grant them some leeway (in small ways) they will find bigger and bigger ways to rebel and act out.

Then again I'm not a fan of forcing conformity and my personal taste in fashion on teenagers or anyone.

Mahkno said...

Peoria Notre Dame doesn't seem to have these problems on quite the scale. Might be worth looking to why that is.

Sharon Crews said...

Riblex--you make some very good points. I especially agree that students who wish to rebel (and can't do it through their attire) will find other more serious ways to disrupt the classroom. Your "cracks" rule actually should "cover" just about all the requirements for a dress code that I consider to be important. Also, telling students that they can't wear jackets is absurd unless they are told "why." The district should be up front about the reason--all manner of contraband can be hidden in jackets and baggy pants. Personally, I hate any rules for which I can't give students an understandable "why." The hat rule was a problem for me because students today do not understand why wearing a hat is disrepectful--I certainly wasn't able to explain it. However, I could explain that hats sometimes block the view of someone sitting behind a hat--and mostly there were many instances where "hat snatching" among students caused problems, etc. I remember in the 60s when boys weren't allowed to have long hair--I found it absurd because I had a picture in my room of all the presidents--how was I supposed to explain to students why long hair was a no-no?

Jon said...

Sharon, when my son asks "Why", I keep telling him "because I said so", but he ain't buying it. He wants to debate me - I don't know where he gets that from (probably his mother)

Rixblix said...

I've had to explain to my students and my children that sometimes there are rules that are just and sometimes there a just rules.

Students are way more savvy these days than when I was a kid. They have very keen bullshit detectors. I often tell them that even if they think school rules are bullshit, there is value in learning to abide by standards. I try to encourage them to consider these arbitrary rules as part of "playing the game." I point out that there are 24 hours in a day and if they only have 6 or 7 hours out of the day they have to adhere to school rules, it's really a very small portion of their lives. It's also a very good way to teach them how to pick their battles.

Sharon Crews said...

I should have qualified my statement--I was speaking mainly of rules about attire. However, there are other classroom rules about which students need not argue. In general, I was more than willing to explain my personal reasons for rules in my own classroom. However, disagreement with the rules didn't mean that I was going to change the rules. Sometimes, I just said, "Because I said so." Yes, I believe that school is not just a place to learn subject matter; it is a place to learn how to survive and thrive in society.

Sharon Crews said...

Jon, I wrote my "because I said so" comment before I ready yours. Ha! I won't assume anything about great minds!

Anonymous said...

I would like to congratulate the district for again leaving teachers out of the decision-making process. Why would we teachers know anything about what students do / don't wear . . . should / shouldn't wear?

Ah . . . and whereas Carl Cannon may not be a fashionista . . . I don't think I'd accuse Martha Ross of being one either.

Anonymous said...

Didn't mean for that to be anonymous. Hate when people do that. AdkinsDutro wrote it. (Kidding about Martha Ross . . . she always dresses nicely.)

Mahkno said...

There is some advice toward succeeding the business world. If you want a position it is important to
a) have the skills,
b) able to act the part
c) be able to speak the part
d) look the part.

All of these are generally prerequisites. Where are these kids going to learn this? What parts are these kids trying out for? Are we not doing them a disservice by writing off as youthful rebellion/indiscretion?

Sharon Crews said...

I certainly don't want to leave anyone with the impression that I beieve that students should not have to adhere to a dress code. I believe it should be kept as simple as possible and that the district should have a philosophy behind the rules. For instance, I have taught many students with all manner of hairdos, "unnatural" hair colors, etc. I never thought that any of them interferred with my teaching or kept students from learning. Sexually explicit attire is another story. Basically, I don't think an adult's opinion of style is the criteria on which to base the rules.
I guess I'm so used to rules coming down from the top that it didn't occur to me to mention what Jeff just stated. Why weren't teachers consulted about the dress code? I even heard some board members at a meeting hint that teachers in the past had not been enforcing the dress code already in place. I hope no one believes that teachers have the authority to enforce anything. A teacher only reports infractions to the dress code--the enforcement is carried out by administrators. including deans. Ultimately, the principal sets the pace. We could all tell you stories about how much time we wasted reporting dress code violations only to learn that there were no meaningful (if any) consequences for students who violated the dress code.

Emerge Peoria said...

Sharon the meetings were public and posted. A couple of the meetings I attended there was at least one teacher who took it upon herself to come and she gave her input. (Although I think she attended as a parent and not a "teacher" her main concern may have been her child and their friends at Richwoods not wearing a uniform)

Why didn't more teachers make it a point to attend and give input to Martha or Rachael? It has been a well known fact for close to a year now that the PAC was looking at dress code and possibly instituting a uniform policy. As a matter of fact I was informed that a teacher started a Facebook group of people who are opposed to uniforms.

If teachers wanted input - they have had plenty of opportunity.

Sharon Crews said...

Sorry, Emerge, I don't agree on this one. Teachers should not have to answer a "public" call to discuss such issues. First of all, the purpose of those meetings should have been to get suggestions from the public--not to make policy. The meetings that I am talking about should have been the preliminary meetings to plan policy (after public input)--neither the public nor the teachers were invited. I don't mean to imply that teachers should make policy, but they should be on "formal" committees to discuss the pros and cons of policy before policy is voted on. What Jeff was saying, I believe, is that teachers once again were left out of the process. I hope that Dr. Lathan will bring teachers back into the "process." They have been left out for quite some time. It would be to the board and administration's advantage, at least, to listen to teachers' opinions. It is an insult to expect teachers to respond to a general call to the public--the board, teachers and administrators together should be making the call to invite the public to discuss issues. Principals, teachers, the board, and central administration all have different perspectives on many issues--one cannot speak for the other, but if the district and Dr. Lathan are to succeed, all groups should listen to one another and all perspectives should be taken into consideration before policy is made. That hasn't happened in District 150 for a long time. For instance, before the board adopted its crazy 1 infraction, 2 infraction, etc., policy for discipline, every teacher in the district would have given many reasons why the policy would not work. It hasn't worked and no one on the board has yet asked "why"? Dress code violations are to follow the same 1, 2, 3, 4 infractions rule--it won't work either.

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge, I am confused. Didn't your post begin with a statement that indicated that they "call to the public" wasn't very clear--because you arrived when the meeting was over? Weren't you the one who wrote this post suggesting the board should have listened to those in the know about high school fashions, etc? Are you saying that your voice wasn't heard and/or heeded either?
I have questions about these meetings about the dress code. First of all, I must not have been paying attention because I know that Karen and I probably would have gone to the meetings--how were they publicized? Was it just on the website? How often do you think teachers or the public should check the website to see if they have been invited to a meeting? Were the high school principals at any of the meetings and/or invited? Do you think the principals should, also, have answered a "public" call to attend?
Did I detect a hint of criticism about the Richwoods parent/teacher who didn't want uniforms? I know that Karen (a Richwoods parent) doesn't want them, nor do I. How many Manual parents and their sons and daughters do you think would favor uniforms--how would they differ from Richwoods parents? I don't think they would be one bit of difference.
On the other hand, Jeff might still favor uniforms--I haven't asked him lately. I know that during his first year or so of teaching, he had attended a conference on the subject and was very much in favor of uniforms. The differences in opinion could very well divide according to male/female opinions.
I guess there's no point in this discussion--the decisions have been made.

teachingrocks said...

I believe in school uniforms. I believe in enforcement of the rules. I believe teachers should have been involved in setting the policy and consequences. I believe it is pretty hard to take a stance that uniforms are a positive thing and then make wearing a uniform the punishment. I believe our BoE continues to talk out of both sides of their mouth.

I truly, truly want to believe in Dr. Lathan and have stated I am feeling pretty positive of her thus far due to her quick response at Glen Oak and other actions she has taken. I'm even trying really hard to hold judgement on the recent addition of many NC people to the payroll.

There are so many people in and around Peoria who only want what is best for the children. I wish we could come together, find a better path, and continue to work together to make it a reality. The children of Peoria are worth it! If we want the best FROM them, we must be willing to give our best TO them.

Mahkno said...

Dress Code =/= uniforms. What I read in the Journal Star was that uniforms were only implemented if someone failed to abide the dress code. Meaning that uniforms = punishment for bad behavior. => more black kids will be wearing uniforms while the white kids get to sport their brand name attire.

This is so wrong.

Uniforms should point toward aspirations of success and not be a jumpsuit of failure. Uniforms should be the only standard.

Make those young men wear ties. Heaven forbid they begin to look the part of someone who might be going somewhere. As opposed to a lot of the pictures in the post.

Emerge Peoria said...

Mahkno, I totally agree with you on the uniform issue.

In a committee meeting I attended, I thought I heard that the schools would get donations of clothes and give students who had several violations something from that closet to wear.

The thought was that if a young lady knew she would have to wear a pair of mommy jeans, from the school closet, because hers was showing the crack of her behind, she would think twice about showing the crack of her behind.