A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Naked Ape

My colleague Mike over at Education in Texas, whom I pray is safe from the latest storm, mentioned a humorous essay about dress codes at educationnews.org. The author's basic point was that no one seems to be enforcing dress codes in the schools he visits.

Let me illuminate the realities of dress codes, using my high school as an example. We have one female assistant principal. The male assistant principals do not wish to deal with this issue. When students have been sent to the principal if they were either unwilling or unable to don a fig leaf to cover their nakedness, we have typically been given one of two responses: "I've seen worse," (this is an actual quote) or "I don't have time to deal with this," which may be a cover for embarrassment or fear.

I am one of three females in my department, and for various reasons, the other two don't count when it comes to this issue. I do believe that in our PC and litigious time, our mostly young male teachers are potentially asking for a heap of trouble if they confront a young female (can't use the word "lady" for someone dressed like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman) regarding cleavage and thigh exposure. I have a few basic principles to which I adhere, and one of these is a plea to only have the rules you are willing to enforce, and another is a belief in the broken windows theory. Further, if I were a Supreme Court nominee, I would babble on about the importance of precedent. Stubborn, stupid me actually therefore spends lamented minutes a week in conversation with Junior Jezebels re: basic modesty. For this I took out thousands in student loans and worked the midnight shift at the front desk of my dorm for four long years?

About once every other day, one of my male colleagues comes scurrying to me pointing out some shocking little piece of eye-candy to ask my intervention. A few days ago it was the young assistant principal who encountered an outfit so provocative he couldn't ignore it, and asked me to corral a young hottie dressed in strategically placed string. So at least he stood behind me with his arms crossed, looking like a bull mastiff with a toothache, while I did the actual dirty work:

MC: "Hon, can you c'mere for a second?"
Delilah: "Whut?"
MC: "You are unfortunately in violation of the dress code, and I need to know if you've got something else to change into."
Delilah: "GHuh? Whut's wrong with my clothes? I've got two shirts on!"
MC: "Actually, you've got two quarter shirts on, one see-through and one crocheted, and basic math says that that still equals, at best, one-half a shirt. See, when you self-consciously tug the hem of the top layer down, you expose too much cleavage. When the hem immediately snaps back up like a rubber band, we see the bottom of your unmentionables both north and south of your navel and about a foot and a half of midriff. So you need to get a real shirt on, please, so you don't put someone's eye out."
Delilah: "Man, this is WHACK! A'ight, a'ight! Geez!" AP nods his massive head toward the end of the hallway. Exeunt.

Why is this important? I think that a school is for students, not strumpets. We're not asking them to wear uniforms or habits. They can come to school in PJs and slippers. And when we ignore a rule, especially one we've made a big deal out of, we look like jackasses, or, if you prefer, the federal government.

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At 9/24/05, 6:55 AM, Blogger Fred said...

LOL - a few of us were having this discussion a few days ago. We don’t allow flip-flops, but somehow 6-inch stilettos with tight skirts are fine.

Some of the kids tell me that they walk out of the house with acceptable clothing to their parent(s), but then will change on the bus or in the restroom first thing.

Luckily, though, we have two female assistant principals, so they're pretty good when there's a problem.

At 9/25/05, 9:41 PM, Blogger EdWonk said...

You're in the EduSphere! :-)

At 9/25/05, 9:56 PM, Blogger Polski3 said...

At my school of 900+ junior high students, we have NO female administrators. Or any counselors. BUT, fortunatly, we have a dress code that very few parents allow their lil' darlings to opt out of. This elimates much of the issue with female lack of clothing in public.

Isn't there a study someplace about an all female high school where this issue is not an issue because there is 'nobody' to lure?

At 9/28/05, 8:32 AM, Blogger Mike in Texas said...

I'm alive and well in East Texas. The storm did some very minor damage to my house and we were lucky enough to be without power for only 15 hours. Our neighbors across the street have been without it for 4 days now. I need to get out and get a picture of all the extension cords crossing streets.

I didn't say this on my webpage (some of my coworkers read it and occasionally my supt.) but I see plenty of boobs and butt cracks from teachers! There is one teacher I'd say I see her butt crack at least once a week. We have several others who routinely wear low cut shirts and then bend over in front of me. I wrote last year about women coming to interviews showing huge amounts of cleavage. And Fred, some of our teachers wear flip-flops to school.

At 9/30/05, 5:57 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Okay, so let me be fair-- today I had a young man who was wearing a football jersey and was sagging so low that I saw
1) His entire underwear (boxers, not briefs!)
2) 2 inches of thigh
3) the top of his pants -- with a belt

in that order. YIKES! I should have gone to get opne of the guys in the department-- fair being fair- but I dealt with it myself, and since he was not willing to pull up the knickers, and he gave me lots of 'tude, he got sent to principal too. After he left, the other kids in my academic lab actually THANKED me. STG!

At 9/30/05, 6:26 PM, Anonymous Itinerant Librarian said...

If the school and the powers that be are not willing to enforce the existing codes, why should we expect the kids to be nothing to hostile when confronted? I have to feel sympathetic for any male teacher even considering confronting one of the "ladies" referred to in the post. The risk of a lawsuit or other litigation is simply not worth a bare midriff or some cleavage. When the administration actually moves to have a serious no tolerance that includes if need be sending a kid home, maybe then things might change.


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