The dress code is ridiculous. I just don’t entirely buy the “girls in skimpy clothes distract the horny boys,” and that’s what the whole first half of the verboten list is about. As my father put it, The first half, everyone (female) wears, and the second half, (almost) no one does. (Spiked bracelets and heavy chains, plus hats and stuff, and we’ve had a No hats rule for ages.)
Then i read this -- "Now Bush wants to test every American for mental illness--including you! And guess who will create the tests?" by Jordanne Graham. I got to thinking about how i bet liberals could propose an identical plan and spin it totally positive. Test everyone so that we can provide treatment early. And of course the treatment would all be provided free of charge, because universal health care is the ideal.
My father's e-mail on the dress code:
August brings a letter from Norwood High School telling us what's happening the first week and informing us that, after several years of trying, a new dress code has been developed. We are informed in capital block letters, "THERE IS A NEW DRESS CODE IN EFFECT -- [even bigger font]SHOP ACCORDINGLY (SEE DRESS CODE REGULATIONS ON THE BACK OF THIS NOTICE). The big changee seems to come in the middle of the reverse side, where there are these bulleted items:He follows up with a link to commentary from law professor Ann Althouse on the changing fashion.
The following are not allowed:
- Tank tops
- Halter tops
- Spaghetti Straps
- Off the shoulder tops
- Bare Midriffs
(In a stab at gender equality, the rest of the list says:
- Head coverings
- Spiked bracelets
- Heavy gauge chains)
Then it continues, "Underwear of any kind (boxers, thongs, bras) shall not be visible. The length of shorts, skirts, and dresses must be longer than the finger-tips when arms are held down at he side of the body."
My very unscientific guess is that, on any given day last year, at least one of these would have applied to about half the female students. So why are they doing this? Three guesses (which don't have to be mutually exclusive):
One: I have been told that the entering freshman class has 75 more people than last year's graduating senior class. For several years the entering class has been larger than the leaving class and the school is getting more and more crowded. That changes things. The principal CAN'T know everyone--or even close to everyone. Informality yields to formality, individual decisions to rules. It also means there aare more things that can go wrong. I think partly the dress code is a way of asserting control, of saying, "when you come through those doors, you play by our rules." And those rules are you sit, you listen, you do the work, and if you learn a certain minimal amount, you graduate.
Two: It's a simple feeling that "young girls are acting too sexy." I suspect a number of parents pushed for the code because it allows them to say, "You can't wear that to school. It's not allowed." and "I'm not buying you that. You'd hardly ever be able to wear it cause it's againt the dress code."
Three: One of the great don't-talk-abouts is that high school boys are falling further and further behind the girls academically. One day last year, I had all the upper level English classes of a grade. As I recall, there were 8 boys and 34 girls. Of course, traditionally girls have done better than boys in the "verbal" areas, but the disproportion has never been this stark. And girls are now generally outdoing the boys in non-verbal areas too. Many of the math and science prizes are taken by girls. Of the top ten people in last year's senior class (by grades), eight were female. I don't think there have been 5 males in that group in years. [Elizabeth’s edit: The year i graduated, there were 2 girls in my AP English class of 12. The valedictorian was female and the only female in the top 10 of our class of 212. At the banquet for the top 30 students (ranked by weighted GPA) there were fewer than 10 females.]
Perhaps in some way the code is an attempt to save the boys from themselves. To try to get their hormone-addled minds off the girls and onto the books. Like not holding an AA meeting in front of a well-stocked bar.
I think all three explanations are compatible with this statement in the code, "Since the primary function of school is educational, not recreational or social, student dress should be appropriate for the school environment and not cause a distraction within that setting."
Interestingly, the following article from the New York Times suggests that the code may be easier to institute this year than it would have in the last several years. Perhaps the Brittany Spears jail bait look is going out.
Less Bling, More Elegance
By RUTH LA FERLA
Published: August 8, 2004
This next bit doesn’t explicitly relate, but it reminded me of how frustrated i get by people who decide they want to fix something, not really understanding what it is they’re dealing with.
Doug Isaacson has a few ideas about city folks. First of all, they do not understand Alaska. Second of all, they do not understand Alaska.
He was flying in a six-seat Piper Navajo the other day above the tundra, grousing that he could not build on all that empty land because the city slickers wanted to preserve it. They needed some place to dream of in their cramped apartments, he was saying.
It drives a man like Mr. Isaacson insane.
"It's a fantasy they're trying to preserve," he said as the plane flew bumpily above a wilderness that stretched away for miles in shades of greenish gray. "It's in their minds. It's only when you're living in the rat race of a claustrophobic city that you start with all those claustrophobic thoughts."
He is suspicious of people who think Alaska should remain a wilderness, undeveloped and pristine. While this position may seem logical, even admirable, on the overcrowded island of Manhattan, it is a luxury up north, he says, where the oil and mining industries can mean a paycheck for a worker who needs a job.
"New Yorkers tend to think of Alaska in terms of Central Park," he said one day, leaning back so that his tie with the Republican elephant was on display. "They think it's a beautiful place that has to be preserved.
"But people live here. They have to earn a living. Don't tell me the environment's so fragile we'll destroy it. We're not going to spoil the land. We're not going to bite the hand that feeds us."
Doug Isaacson is not a hick. He is a mortgage broker, a city councilman, a father, an American. He lives in a rural town where local people answer Christmas letters mailed to Santa. He is a former seminarian who once worked for the Air Force translating intercepted Soviet communications from a plane's belly.
What the Easterner does not understand, he says, is that Alaska is vast enough to handle even decades of development. Whether this is true or not, he put this Easterner on a plane and flew him out 100 miles beyond the Arctic Circle to prove how huge and empty Alaska is.
From the air, there was a single road that cut between the rolling hills that stretched away so far into the distance that the concept of distance seemed to disappear. Then the road disappeared. Then the hills. Then the trees. Eventually there was nothing but the mountains and the tundra - nothing artificial to be seen.
"It's called the last frontier, but it's a zoo," he said above the humming of the engines. "Our movement is restricted. Our commerce is restricted. They've taken away our right to do anything by taking away the land."
When Mr. Isaacson says they, he means that conglomeration of environmentalists, liberal money and politicians - often Democrats - who, over the years, have set aside some 300 million of Alaska's 365 million acres as untouchable public land. It drives him crazy that "environmental evangelists," as he will call them, have made it so you cannot build a factory, a shopping mall or even a house on all that empty land.
-from “Alaskan Delegate to New York: Don't Fence Us In” by Alan Feuer (NYTimes: August 6, 2004)