Educational Editorial: Dress Codes in Schools

By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

With warm weather, schools face a perennial challenge -- dress codes. While more that 30 states have laws related to school attire, it seems that this subject usually focuses more on rights than responsibilities.

While speaking to a convention of high school principals, I was asked, "Bill, did your really have a dress code when you were a principal." "Yes," I replied, "No see through, no profane, no halter top, no short shorts, and no bare midriffs.

"Well," he replied, "we used to have a dress code, but we have it up." "Why," I asked. He said, "The kids said that it was illegal." "Did you ask anyone else?" I retorted. "No" he said, "We thought that they knew what they were talking about."

Schooling is about getting an education. No state mandates that schools are responsible for socialization, networking, and style setting. School uniform policies are growing with justification including school safety and order. A town near Baton Rouge, La., has outlawed baggy pants popularized by hip hop artists of the 90's.

For parents, know what your young people are wearing to school and expect them to dress like they are going to work, not to the beach. What was cute as a child may be unacceptable as a teenager.

For students, our goal is not to have you dress like we do, but to be decent. Expect to be respected. And for schools, don't be intimidated by those who have historically made dress an issue of speech. The real issue may be to help young people to understand that rights teach us what we CAN do: responsibility teaches us what we SHOULD do.

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