Monday, June 2, 2014

Do Teachers Need Dress Codes to Know What to Wear at School? | NEA Today

Do Teachers Need Dress Codes to Know What to Wear at School? | NEA Today:

Do Teachers Need Dress Codes to Know What to Wear at School?

June 2, 2014 by twalker  
Filed under Featured NewsTop Stories
By Edward Graham
Although the vast majority of educators dress in professional attire for the classrooms and schools where they work, some schools districts are nonetheless drafting and implementing dress code policies for school employees. Although the push towards standards may seem relatively benign, these efforts bring up renewed questions about teacher professionalism and what constitutes “required educator attire.”
Teachers in West Virginia’s Kanawha County School District are protesting a proposed dress code that’s currently being considered by the local school board.
The dress code would ban facial piercings, visible tattoos (teachers would have to cover them up), flip-flops, and “immodest” dress. Hair and nails are to be clean and neatly groomed, and those who work around moving equipment will be required to maintain shoulder length hair or secure it in place.
One of the more ambiguous inclusions is the prohibition of blue jeans, unless they are “dress jeans.” It’s these kinds of vague policies and stipulations that have teachers, who move from role to role within a school on a moment’s notice, wondering why standards are becoming a hot-button issue when the vast majority of teachers dress in a professional manner that suits their in-school role.
Several right-wing media outlets naturally have seized upon the episode in Kanawha County as a way to portray teachers’ displeasure as privilege and pettiness. The real issue, of course, is respect, says teacher Donna Hanshew.
“It makes you feel like you’re not considered a professional,” Hanshew told the Charlestown Gazette. “It’s just like everything else — you deal with the people who are the problem; you don’t need to punish the majority. It’s just like in school — you don’t punish the whole class for what one student did.”
“When you’ve got schools that are falling down — literally falling down around you — and then you’re making a big deal out of a dress code for teachers, what does that say about your priorities?” Hanshew added.
For Parents As Well?
In April, a school board member in Palm Beach County, Florida, suggested a new dress code – not for students or teachers, but for parents. Karen Brill said she was miffed at the sight of parents picking up or dropping off their children looking unkempt and wearing ill-fitting pants, pajamas or “short shorts.”
The idea however, failed to gain any traction as members said it was important that schools are inviting to parents, regardless of what they may be wearing.
Debra Wilhelm, president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association, strongly opposed dress codes for parents, calling them a waste of time and impractical.
“Who’s going to enforce it?” she asked. “Are they going to have school police arrest parents?”
“Our association believes the administration should address inappropriate dress by professionals on an individual basis as opposed to throwing everyone under the bus,” explains Dinah Adkins, president of the Kanawha County Education Association. “The large majority of educators dress professionally and appropriate for daily activities. In our county only one board member actually supported the implementation of a dress code.”
Although many school districts across the country have defined dress codes for students and educators, teachers become peeved when school and local administrators turn to enforcing stricter dress code policies, often for no reason at all. Many educators object, not because they want to look unprofessional, but because they see this as yet another unnecessary and insulting attempt to limit their rights and demean the profession.
“We are professionals, and we don’t need somebody telling us what we need to wear to work,” says Bill Do Teachers Need Dress Codes to Know What to Wear at School? | NEA Today: