I thought this was a good news/bad news story. Good news in that the Haverhill, Massachusetts middle school's assistant principal was willing to enforce a dress code when she saw students wearing extremely short skirts. Bad news in that a parent objected to the principal's decision and tried to transfer her daughter to another school. Why isn't the mother siding with the school principle here? What message is this parent sending to her daughter about 1) appropriate school attire and 2) respect for adult authority?
"Nettle Middle School sixth-grader Arianna Bouchicas...said she was returning from morning recess when Nettle's assistant principal, Renata Bateman, asked her to go to the school nurse's office and have her mother bring her another outfit.... Bateman said the school dress code bans skirts that are too short and that Arianna's outfit broke the rule."
"Bateman said the school dress code is meant to prevent any distraction from learning."
" 'When you have kids that come in with unbelievably short skirts, even though a skort has shorts underneath, we just don't want it to be a distraction,' she said. 'Boys tend to look if a girl is dressed seductively — and it takes away from time on learning.' "
Arianna's mother was so unhappy with the dress code enforcement that she asked to have her daughter transferred to another middle school. The superintendent supported the decision of the assistant principal:
"Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan said he met with Arianna and her mother and told them principals have the right to regulate their school's dress code."
" 'It is expected that Haverhill students be dressed appropriately while in school and not dress in a manner that is disruptive to the educational process or the environment of the school,' Buchanan said. 'I told them I would not comment on the outfit. The principal already made that decision.' "
The local newspaper published an editorial a few days later supporting the dress code enforcement:
"Our view: Dress codes teach students proper behavior"
"If only parents would get as excited about their children's educational progress, or lack thereof, as they do about conflicts over a school dress code."
"...the incident should prompt school officials from the superintendent to the School Committee on down to put the word out again to parents: If they want the best education possible for their children, they need to support an environment that focuses on learning, not fashion and distraction. That kind of environment must, necessarily, include a dress code."
"...Part of becoming a productive adult is learning to wear appropriate dress. School is a work place, and the clothes students wear should reflect that. Parents who want the best for their children will support and take part in that training."
It seems to me that, in public schools anyway, female principals are more willing to enforce dress codes than male principals. Why is that?
I find it regrettable that a parent sides with her daughter and against the school principal and superintendent here. When I was growing up (long ago in the 60's and 70's), parents, schools and religious authorities were allies. Adults worked together and set the standards for children to meet. That seems not to be the case these days.