Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

One More Brick...
At our junior high school, students are expected to wear uniforms. The uniforms consist of navy blue bottoms (shorts, pants, skirts, etc.) and white tops (polo shirts, school t-shirts etc.) By signing a "waiver," parents can exempt their children from any (or all) of the uniform policy.

The kids are supposed to wear their shirts "tucked" into their pants. This is so that they cannot hide pistols, shotguns, lightsabers, or any other type of weapon in their waist-bands.

The uniforms were adopted in the Middletown Elementary School District in 1997. This happened after a large group of parents petitioned and forced the local board to hold a referendum. The uniforms were favored by classroom teachers, and opposed by a reluctant and obstructive district bureaucracy. The monitored vote on the adoption of uniforms was 93% in favor, 7% opposed.

Even though school uniforms remain very popular with the classroom teachers, the bureaucracy has been doing its best to "soften" the policy ever since. This year, administrative enforcement of the "shirt tucked in" rule has been somewhat random. Some kids are punished for having untucked shirts, others walk right by "patrolling" administrators without a comment.

The other day, one of my colleagues told several of us a story about how she saw one of her female students with a shirt that was so short that it was exposing her backside to a group of boys as she bent over. The teacher said to the student, "Just say no to crack, pull-up your pants." The irony was lost on the kid. Whether the comment comes back to "haunt" the teacher (via parent complaint) remains to be seen.