Thursday, May 03, 2007

Graduating in SSA

A letter to the editor of the Tennessean this morning by Mary Beth Pickney explained that graduation gowns are leftover from the Middle Ages when scholars always worse such robes to university got me thinking and then shaking my head.

We have a small, vocal and determined minority of MNPS parents who are still not happy with the recent BOE vote to bring Standard School Attire to all of Metro Nashville Schools. They are holding out hope that once the policy is written it will have a carte blanche opt-out policy that enables their children to avoid being part of the MNPS team and not comply with SSA. They've even talked about creating faux religions if necessary and dare principals to declare them not bona fide. These parents complain that SSA stifles a child's creativity, is a violation of the free speech of the child and violates their rights as parents to raise their children as they see fit. Asserting that there is no evidence (that meets their criteria) that SSA has an impact on learning or discipline they will also allow that it may work in some schools--but it's not needed in the schools their children attend. They talk about continuing their protests at BOE meetings, filing a class action lawsuit, picketing the first day of school and even supporting their own children in their efforts to not comply and force administrators to send 'good' students to fill ISS (in school suspension) rooms wasting valuable time and energy until they get their way.

If only their sense of justice, their passion and willingness to demand fairness and sue for redress would extend to the actual lack of facilities, resources and qualified personnel prevalent in MNPS all of which has been more than adequately studied and revealed. But no. What hill have they chosen to die on instead? Nothing fires their passion like not letting their precious wear a baby doll top, slashed jeans or "sweet spot" on their backside. Over what issue will they call a lawyer to file a class action lawsuit? Over what issue will they call the realtor to begin the move to a more enlightened community? Over what issue will they enable their children to defy 'the man' and risk their educational standing? Clothing.

And yet, the vast majority of these parents will ensure that their child has the appropriate cap, gown, honor stoles and cords in exact compliance with graduation tradition. That Standard School Attire, that team uniform, they embrace with peacock pride. Go figure.


W said...

There's a big difference between a one time ceremonial event and day to day life.

lcreekmo said...

The Tennessee Constitution guarantees my child -- and any other who wishes to take advantage -- a free, public education. There's no asterisk saying, "As long as you wear what the government tells you to."

This is the HEIGHT of government interference in my parenting. The very idea that you would insinuate otherwise....but perhaps you would LIKE the government to get involved in my business? If so, I certainly hope you don't call yourself a conservative.

My child owns a wardrobe full of comfortable, modest clothes that she likes. Not ONE ITEM in her wardrobe meets the SSA standards -- frankly, those standards describe boys' clothes.

My daughter has the exact same rights of expression guaranteed under the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions that you and I do, and you're darn right I take those rights seriously.

Not that it should matter, but I have been involved with public schools, for more than 10 years BEFORE my daughter was born. Thanks for all your generalizations, but they simply don't apply to me, nor to many other parents who are adamantly in favor of protecting the rights of ALL children in Metro schools.

Kay Brooks said...

Laura wrote:
'"As long as you wear what the government tells you to." This is the HEIGHT of government interference in my parenting.'

Seriously? You consider what your child must wear more interfering than inoculations, the teaching of health and moral issues, psychiatric screening, homework eating up precious family time, magnet lotteries for the lucky few that may leave your child in a poorly performing school, an unresponsive school board and superintendent, an MNPS budget that continues to grow and take from your finite resources? All those issue seem to me to be much more important battles than polos and slacks and skirts.

There are plenty of asterisks to that guaranteed free public education. It didn't start with SSA. It's just amazing to me that THIS is where some draw the line in the sand.

lcreekmo said...

You have no idea what else I do or don't support. I'd be glad to enumerate but I believe the exercise to be pointless. Just because there are other problems, doesn't diminish THIS one.

My only comment here is, I think ALL our rights are important and I don't believe I have to give up my, or my daughter's, citizenship at the schoolhouse door.

JJ Ross said...

I had a new thought just the other day, that I haven't seen brought into the issue of uniforms and dress codes. After listening to and reading a good bit of Philip Zimbardo's situational psychology research and his new book The Lucifer Effect, I wonder about the "situational psychology" of making School (large schools especially) even a little more institutional with required uniform dress -- to the extent that this makes the daily environment of a controlled population under pressure any more like high-stakes military and prison situations, does it tend to foster the same "anonymity, conformity and boredom (that) can be used to induce sadistic behavior in otherwise wholesome students"? Has anyone studied the psychological effect of uniforms in large modern schools? I honestly don't know, but it seems like a question worth some poking around . . .

Wendy said...

jj ross,

Try this guy for a comprehensive study on SSA/Uniforms Dr. Scott Joftus


Diane said...

And yet Ms.Brooks, your blog doesn't address any of those "more important" issues in our schools these days either. Hmmmmm
I'd love to see your research supporting the effectiveness of SSA and the standards YOU use to qualify that research. Instead of your eavesdropping for something interesting to talk about to draw traffic into your Adwords campaign so you can turn a profit off other's "passion", why don't you address those real issues for a change rather than spouting ignorance. Since I feel I was directly referenced in your latest posting, I figured I should post so your readers know why you are really so bitter about all this. You're profit ploy was exposed on MPASS, the rest is your grudge showing. (Tuck it in.)