Every year public school boards across the country debate the issue of implementing school dress regulations and what level they will enforce it. In an ever growing trend, the school uniform is being pushed as a way to stop violence and promote order in schools. Does it actually work?
So far, there is no proof that the way a child dresses for school will increase there ability to learn or to curb violence in the school setting. If your child’s school doesn’t have a uniform rule in place, it does have a dress code of some sort. All schools have a dress code, some school seem to enforce more strict rules than others but each year before the bell rings this topic comes up for debate.
This is not a new issue. This issue has been around as long as we as human beings started wearing clothing. Each religion and country has its own ‘dress code’ more stringently aimed at women 90% of the time. If you ask the populous what their feelings are about some of the dress restriction in place in foreign countries, general consents will agree this is an oppression of freedom of expression. But if you refer to ‘dress code’ in schools it seems politically more correct. Ask any high school student and their response will definitely scream freedom violation.
The problem is that the school boards should not be spending their time making these decisions and enforcing them. The schools time and our tax dollars are better spent on educating the children in question rather than fashion critiquing. But they are! They are because the school board doesn’t feel parents are doing their job anymore and are grasping at a way to get it back. The school system has lost the hold they once had on order in the classrooms. Sadly, the idea that a dress code or uniform will bring back the days of order in the classroom is very mistaken. The problem isn’t what the kids are wearing; it is what they are or are not learning in school and at home. It’s a society issue that has been growing for years. Regardless the dress code pro’s and con’s debate will continue so we have to look at the issues.
What is reasonable? How should it be enforced? Is it a breach of freedom?
Some of these rules are forged from common sense; some are old etiquette and some I have not found a reasonable explanation for. Here are some of the restrictions in debate:
- No hair bands, kerchiefs
- No caps or hats
- No unnatural hair colors
- No make-up
- Big jewelry
- No flip-flops or sandals without a strap at the back
- No outdoor shoes that make black marks on the floor
- No tank tops or spaghetti strap tops that show shoulders or arm pits
- No shirts showing the midriff or belly button
- No shirts with offensive language or promoting violence
- No shirts or shorts above the knees
- No pants with underwear showing
It’s common sense that if movie and TV have to bleep out the adult language and violence as a rating that wearing an offensive language t-shirt would be offensive and shoes that leave black marks are damaging school property, both of these rules I can agree on 100%. T-shirts with “Harley Davidison” or a skeleton is not dangerous just artistic to some. Kerchiefs have been banned from wearing because of its being used by inner city gangs as a way to indentify gang allegiance. Being a parent of a child attending a small rural school where this is not an issue for grade school children, I find the rule odd to even spend time enforcing. But if it helps save lives by banning bandanas then I am definitely in agreement with it. The need to remove gang activity and violence from the school setting should be a top priority but we need so much more than a dress code to do that.
Removing your hat when you are inside was an etiquette rule centuries old. Men removed their hats indoors as a polite gesture and in reverence when entering church. This etiquette rule is lost to the new generation. They see hat wearing as fashion and a way to hide bad hair and nothing else. So when adults tell them it’s rude to wear their hat inside they don’t understand. I mean it’s only a hat; it’s not really rude to wear a hat. It’s just something of the older generation understands the meaning of and has no stands in today. How can we remove so many more important traditions such as sing the ‘National Anthem’ every morning and tell children a several hundred year old hat rules still applies?
The same goes with clothing etiquette. I personally do not allow my daughter to go to school in clothing I find too revealing. As a parent I get a few years to have a say in some of her dressing choices because I pay for them that gives me a little leverage as a parent. The school board on the other hand does not pay for her clothing and therefore I feel they should have limited say. As a young girl, I wore cute sundresses my mother handmade for me, they had spaghetti straps, they showed my shoulders and my arm pits and there was never an issue. Were they inappropriate to wear? Well even the strictest of teachers never said a peep about them other than to compliment my mother’s sewing skills. But today my daughter is not allowed to wear the same attire because apparently showing her shoulders might distract the boys from learning. Give me a break! If the girl were dresses in blouses up to their necks and long skirts with petticoats the reaction would be the same. Actually I believe if you read ‘Anne of Green Gables’ you’d see even then school was a melting pot of hormone reactions between boys and girls. How they dressed did not change the fact ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘girls will be girls’ whatever the fashion. Back then showing your ankle was the dress code issue, things don’t change.
The responsibility for clothing decisions needs to be left to parents, not schools. As much as I feel some of today’s fashion is quite wild and not to my taste, I do not believe the power to decide what my children wear should be in the hands of the School Board. In the end it all comes down to a matter of personal opinion. I believe everyone, children alike deserve right to express themselves through their style. Living in a democratic country where I strongly believe in supporting freedom of expression, these beliefs outweigh my personal fashion preferences. Living in a country where we have choices and a voice is the reason this debate will probably continue every school year for generations to come.
© 2008 This article was written by Sharon Graves MacRae
Sharon Graves MacRae is the editor and owner of Virtual Online Magazine.Virtual Online Magazine is a FREE ONLINE Monthly Published MAGAZINE featuring all women writers and authors. Amazing articles, written by talented women about issues and news that women want to read about. Become a Member Subscribe Today: http://virtual-online-magazine.com/subscribe.html