Friday, September 06, 2013

Dress for Success

United States Department of Education

 As many of my faithful are aware, we have lived all over the United States. As of this last move, my kids have attended schools in four different states. Between the two of them, they have attended 14 different schools. As a result, we are familiar with how different schools are run in different areas of the United States and in different school districts. All of them have had their good points and their bad points. None have been completely awful, although the Youngest Child's second elementary school in North Carolina came pretty close, and none have been completely great.

Every time we enter a different school, even if it's just been the transition from elementary to middle or middle to high school, we have had to learn all the new rules and policies. A learning curve, getting aclimatized to a new school environment, is something that all schools have in common.

What I Liked and Didn't Like

I want to briefly touch on one thing I did and didn't like about schools in each state.


Like:  I liked that the Oldest Child's high school allowed them to have coffee. I know. So what? But I thought that was very California. When we moved here to Florida, she was shocked that kids aren't allowed to have any drinks outside of the cafeteria except for water, lol.

Didn't Like:  The lack of boundaries. All the schools my kids attended had a dress code of some kind or another. Did they enforce it? Not that I could tell. Driving my kids to and from school every day, I saw what kids were wearing. Some of the outfits looked like they were hitting a club, not going to school. It was pretty appalling.


Like:  Almost everything. They only attended one school in Vermont and we loved it. Something that I really liked about it was that they strictly enforced having nutritional food at lunch and even at classroom parties. You weren't allowed to bring cakes and cookies and chips at all. Even at Halloween, kids weren't allowed to bring a piece of Halloween candy in their lunchboxes.

Didn't Like:  I didn't like having to park my car and walk into the school and sign my kids out at the end of every day. I understand the reasoning behind it, but in the middle of freaking winter, parking at the back of the lot and then tramping through several feet of snow (and then inches of mud in the spring) was a pain. They needed a different system.

North Carolina:

Like:  We had good experiences at almost all the schools in NC. We went through two elementary schools and one junior high. The first elementary school was excellent. What I liked about all the schools was that they taught the kids manners. All the kids had to address their teaches as "yes, ma'am" and "no sir". It's not such a bad habit to instill in kids.

Didn't Like:  The second elementary school was very bad about overlooking bullying. This resulted in pulling the Youngest Child (the Oldest was at the junior high) and homeschooling her.


Like:  I know it's way early to decide how we feel about the schools here, so I'm sure I'll be altering my opinions at some point. However, I like that the schools here enforce the dress code. I think that it shows that they have standards and will most likely enforce other school rules as well.

Don't Like:  The dress code. What? Yeah. I like that they have and enforce a dress code. However, there are so many rules and it's so strict that they may as well utilize school uniforms.

School Uniforms

School Uniforms

My kids have attended schools that had a school uniform policy and one school that had a pseudo-uniform policy.

School uniforms consisted of tan, navy blue, or white, collared shirts, sweaters, and slacks and skirts and belts. I'm not sure about shorts, but they should allow some type of shorts for hotter climates. Anyway, I thought they were cute. The good:  It was super easy buying school clothes, you didn't have to worry about violating the dress code, it was easy getting ready for school because you didn't have to figure out what you were wearing. The bad:  Kids grow and it's really hard to find school uniform items in the middle of the school year. It can cost parents more money because you have to buy both uniforms and "street" clothes.

Pseudo-uniforms consisted of:  collared, polo-type shirts, button-down shirts, conservative jeans (no holes, rips, stains, and they had to be worn at the natural waist), and belts had to be worn. I think this is a good compromise to school districts that are afraid to adopt a school uniform policy. And I truly think it's fear that keeps them from doing so and not anything else. School uniforms are often the unpopular choice despite the fact that they are usually the best choice. JMO. Anyway, this school's dress code policy was clear, concise, and applied to both girls and boys. I really think that's key, by the way. I think all school dress code policies are more complicated and pickier when it comes to girls versus the rules that apply to boys' clothes. Boys are basically allowed to wear whatever they want to so long as their jean aren't worn at the knees and their underwear isn't on display for all to be offended. Do boys get measured for shirts and shorts?

Dress Code

I was called into school today to bring the Oldest Child alternative clothes because the dress she wore violated the dress code. It was too short. They actually measured. I work from home, so I saw her this morning and approved what she was wearing. In fact, she has worn this dress to this school before with no problem. Today, they decided that it wasn't appropriate. And they actually measure! This seems very 1950's to me. They also measure the width of shoulder straps on shirts and blouses.

Consistency is an issue. How are kids to understand the respect rules if they are arbitrarily enforced? I don't expect one faculty member to keep one set of eyes on a couple thousand kids every day. However, she has six or seven different classes every day, so why didn't at least one teacher notice her dress the first day that she wore it?

Being 17, she has given her dad and me more than our fair share of teen angst to deal with over the last three years. However, dressing provocatively has never been something we've butted heads over. She has a couple pairs of shorts that I think are a bit too short, but I bought them, so what can I say? And do you know how hard it is to find shorts for teenaged girls of a decent length that aren't old lady long (no offense old ladies)? Most of my girls' shorts are too short for school. Most days, they have to wear either capris or jeans. Not a big deal in most areas, but it's still 90 degree here with the heat index in the 100s. That's really hot and uncomfortable to be wearing jeans.

All I'm saying is, if the school's dress code policy is so strict that it's uniform-like, they may as well make the unpopular decision of having school uniforms. At least then, girls could wear skirts and boys could possibly wear shorts. I already have to buy the girls two sets of clothes:  Dress code appropriate for school and regular teenaged kid appropriate for nights, weekends, and holidays.

What is considered conservative and appropriate is a relative thing. It varies by region in the United States and by state and school district and more specifically, person to person. I think my girls dress nicely. Their asses don't hang out the bottom of their shorts and their boobs aren't falling out the top of their shirts. They don't show a lot of skin. They don't wear all black (not that there's anything specifically wrong with that). They don't wear clothing with hate messages, drugs, or curse words written on them. They don't wear clothes that show their underwear. The Oldest Child's dress this morning was a mint green, knit type deal with capped sleeves and a square neckline. It looks very sweet on her. It being too short didn't even cross my mind. My idea of modest and appropriate is probably different from the next parent's idea and this is where a clear cut dress code or school uniforms should come into play.

All I ask for is some common sense and consistency when it comes to school dress code policies. I don't appreciate being called to take my daughter clothes in the middle of the work day. Or more accurately, right when I was getting into my morning work groove. The dress code here is so confusing and has so many different layers to it that the Youngest Child actually has anxiety issues about her clothes. She has clothes in her closest that she's never worn, clothes we bought for back to school, because she's been sticking with what she's previously worn that haven't gotten her into trouble. That, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty ridiculous. Amiright?

This time, the Oldest Child didn't get into trouble for violating the dress code because 1.) It's the beginning of the school year and 2.) She's new and 3.) It's her first infraction. The next time, she'll get an in school suspension.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:51 AM

    I agree with you that some kids clothing comes off provocative. I would not like to wear a uniform everyday, I feel like it would get old and you wouldn't get to show your personality. Also at the same time I think uniforms at schools help with the dress code rules.


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