Let’s Get Our Priorities in OrderBy Anita Swigart
Teachers are spending time enforcing dress codes when they could be using their time teaching.
Lately, at my high school our focus has been on something that is the lowest rung of my priority list – dress code. Yes, we are in what would probably be considered a “conservative” community, but these students live there and I would like to believe that their parents are aware of what their students wear to school, so why am I spending so much time writing detentions and sending students to the office for “dress code violations?” At least one of our administrators and one guidance counselor is spending hour after hour assessing student dress and dealing with parents. Is this the best use of their time?
When it comes time for me to look at my emails I find one after another from teachers who want to make everyone aware that so-and-so needs to keep her hoodie zipped, otherwise too much cleavage will show. Some of the teachers are quite militant about it: using rulers to determine if a girl’s dress is “midway between top of leg and knee” and these are the FEMALE TEACHERS. I can’t believe that this increases the learning in these teachers’ classes, and isn’t that upon which we should be concentrating our efforts?
Why can students have pierced ears, but no other piercing? What is wrong with “spaghetti straps?” How do those affect learning? In my opinion, all of this is counterproductive. Not only are skilled professionals spending time on something that doesn’t really matter, but those students who break the code are spending time sitting in the office (if they have no other clothes at school to put on and a parent cannot bring any) rather than participating in class.
It is true that I would object to T- shirts with racist or any type of offensive slogans, but there I draw the line. The fashions that are such “distractions” are really only distracting to the teachers who
object to them. The students don’t care that much, and as we all know, teenagers are more interested in themselves than in others anyway.
I don’t want to spend time checking my students for “dress code violations”; however, when I don’t do it, emails start flying around from others wondering why so-and-so has gone through 3 classes without getting a detention and being sent to the office. Come on! Let’s spend our time where it is needed. We are not at school to police students’ dress; we are there to teach. Please let me do it without worrying that I have missed seeing a hole in the cuff of one of my student’s jeans. Let’s move into the 21st century.
I have students who don’t yet know what a blog is or how to effectively search for information on the Internet. Isn’t this more important than whether they have their tongue pierced? (ouch!) Let’s just get over this dress code issue and teach.