I've certainly spent plenty of bandwidth on this blog chastising school administrators for some (at best) questionable decisions, and now it's time for another one; this one happens to hit really close to home.
I can't believe I'm actually writing this sentence, but here goes: One of my high school students told me this week that their school's administration decided (in the dead of an atypically-cold Texas winter, no less) to ban hoodies. They didn't just prohibit the wearing of the hood part indoors (which is perfectly reasonable, as far as I'm concerned); I mean that they won't allow anyone to don the garment at all.
I'll let you take a few seconds to guess why they decided to do this...
Time's up. Did you figure out the answer?
"Because gang members wear them."
I've shared my thoughts on school dress codes on many, many prior occasions on this blog. I'm certainly not debating the right of schools to set certain parameters of dress, but come on--a hoodie?
The comfy little hooded sweatshirts are pretty much all over the place now. My educator self owns five of them. Football coaches across the NFL and college wear them to practice and sometimes even during games. The director of the flagship jazz ensemble at my alma mater (you know, the one that starts rehearsing right after 12:59 p.m.) actually directed said ensemble on several occasions while wearing a hoodie. And just this morning I saw an assistant principal at another school in my district wearing one, in school colors with the school's name emblazoned on the front. (That brings up another point--this school has made more than a little bit of money in the past selling hoodies with their name and colors on them...and now you can't wear them to school?)
In the past several years, this garment has become as ubiquitous as pants. But wait a minute--gang members wear pants, too! I guess we'll have to outlaw them as well. (Students and teachers, please pardon this interruption...your official school kilts are now available at Li'l Angus' House of Tartans. Please be ready to wear your kilt by next Monday, and girls, please make sure your hemline is no more than two inches above the knee. Needless to say, undergarments are mandatory.)
I can almost understand outlawing certain logos or colors in certain parts of town (though semi-rural emerging suburbs hardly seem to fit the bill), but if administrators overreact to everything just because "gang members wear them," doesn't that just mean that the gang-bangers have won, or something like that?
I think it would be amusing if a gang started wearing Old Navy or American Eagle. What would the administration do then? (C'mon, you know the answer...) They'd probably go to uniforms next. If that were the case, it would be even more amusing if a gang suddenly outfitted itself in polos and khakis. Then what would they do at school? (To-GA! To-GA!)
I'm not trying to be flip about this, but let's get real here. The kind of things that are being (over)reacted to are things that, by and large, aren't happening in our part of town. But as I've said before, if you send administrators to a few too many of those meetings where they talk about preparing for all those unlikely scenarios, those things may become part of their reality after a while. The mindset shifts from, "Let's prepare for something that could happen but isn't likely to do so" to "This will happen in my school, possibly as soon as today." The remedy? Administrators need to 1) leave the ivory tower more frequently, 2) interact with more people besides other administrators, 3) participate more in the world at large. That's right, administrators must teach. (If we keep chanting this mantra often enough, perhaps it will fall on the ears of someone who could actually do something about the problem.)
I'm sure this won't be my last post on this subject.
Monkey business, part 1: Officials at a Louisiana chimp haven, where all the males have been given vasectomies, are wondering how one of their females ended up giving birth anyway.
Monkey business, part 2: Meanwhile, at the LIttle Rock Zoo, a chimp escaped from her cage and amused her handlers by grabbing a snack and cleaning the toilet.