Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Black armbands for fall

MNPS has updated their website to include a chart of the permitted colors for shirts for the various schools.

Here's their main standard school attire page for the rest of the details.

The fervor among the MPSSa parents seems to have wained but isn't entirely gone. They stand in the field after battle weaponless except for angry words and name-calling. Instead of accepting defeat and admitting they failed to make their case they create conspiracies and demand the public system conform to their private needs. A few still talk about civil disobedience when the school year starts. Black armbands on one side of the spectrum with a few longing for the '60's apparently, almost looking forward to shutting the entire system down with scores and scores of non-conforming children at the other far end. They parse the recent legal opinion, Google for other legal opinions and are disappointed their ACLU memberships has failed to bring forth their champion.

A couple sincerely believe that their children will be harmed by this clothing choice. I can't help but wonder what sort of parenting takes place that being fully and appropriately clothed could damage the child's health and well-being.

It's an interesting battle to fight, as I've mentioned before. Where is their outrage over the condition, physical and academic, of the schools they've left behind? Where is their sense of justice over the fact that some children don't have clean clothing choices in good condition? Or food? Or parents at all?

It's interesting to see parents who brag about their support for public education completely fail to understand the reality of it being publicly controlled.


DivaMommy said...

I don't even know where to start with this amazingly mean-spirited and uninformed post of yours. But, what I will say is that this country was not founded by people who kept their mouths shut, followed the "status quo," and didn't challenge the prevailing attitudes of the time. Thank goodness they didn't have the qualities that you promote, or else there wouldn't even BE a United States of America! These are the values that I instill in my children (to speak up for themselves, to think critically, and to exercise their First Amendment rights), and I feel very sorry for yours, Ms. Brooks.

cbadge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cbadge said...

I concur with the previous poster, and would add that I particularly take issue with this statement from Miss Brooks:

"I can't help but wonder what sort of parenting takes place that being fully and appropriately clothed could damage the child's health and well-being."

This illustrates your ignorance on this issue, Miss Brooks. Either you have not read the Standard School Attire policy, as written,(as most of it's ill-informed supporters in this city have not) or you didn't understand it. This policy is not about ensuring that children are "fully and appropriately clothed," as you incorrectly state. Instead, it is about lining the pockets of Pedro Garcia's corporate cronies with the MAJOR coup they're going to make off this school uniform scam.

Quite simply, Miss Brooks, you simply CANNOT have read the SSA policy. There are plenty of clothing choices that are amply "appropriate," to use your word that would be summarily PROHIBITED by this overly-restrictive, reactionary policy. Did you know shirts have to be "solid" colors? Since when are tastefully-striped polo shirts inappropriate, distracting or unclean? Since when were pin-stripped collared shirts unprofessional? Tell that to this millions of doctors, lawyer, politicians, Fortune 500 CEO's and execs and even MNPS teachers, principals, and yes...Dr. Garcia himself...whom all where pinstripes and striped polo shirts! But no!...that's outlawed by this "SSA" policy.

Further, tell Senator Alexander that his infamous checkered shirt that he campaigning for governor and president in is "inappropriate." You should remember Senator Alexander’s shirt from that were alive to see it. I wasn't yet born. Are you being upstaged on your knowledge of history by someone a third (maybe a quarter) of your age? hhmm.

And whose definition of "appropriate" are we talking about, anyway? Last time I checked this was America! Since when do people get to impose their view on the everybody else under the rationale that "well, it works for me." I'm sure there are parents and kids that have trouble dressing themselves in the morning...fine!...put them in SSA/uniforms. The rest of us can dress ourselves just fine and don't need the Pedro Police picking out our close for us!

Vicki Day said...

Summer reading list..."Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut and _The Giver_ by Lois Lowry. I understand the underpriviledged issue but uniforms are no less expensive that other clothing. I understand the morning "are you going to school looking like that" issue but who is the parent? Who has control? Pedro Garcia has no business in my closet. I've been parenting for 28 years just fine without his input. This is about some deeper issue of power and control. If you want your children to wear uniforms, I fully support you in that decision. This is not a game with winners and losers, this is supposed to be about creating an educational environment that prepares our students for the real world. Unless your children's real world includes uniforms, this policy is meaningless.

Diane said...

Disagree? Join Metro Parents Against Standard School attire

Kay Brooks said...

Under conspiracy theory--Cbadge wrote:

Instead, it is about lining the pockets of Pedro Garcia's corporate cronies with the MAJOR coup they're going to make off this school uniform scam.

And your evidence for this assertion is....what? Who are Garcia's "corporate cronies". Got any evidence to back up this charge that he has misused his office to benefit his friends?

Loralei said...

The people of MPASS are the ONLY ones who have common sense,and thank GOD for that and them!!!!!!!!! Now I will not dignify anything else here with a response.

julieanno said...

The current dress code was fine as long as it was enforced. My children wore uniforms while at Hull-Jackson. Life wasn't any easier. I was buying double clothing. Not because they demanded anything special, but because they came home and changed into their play clothes.
Right now, thier play clothes conform to the current dress policy and they can wear them to school.
I'll have 3 children in elementary school and it is a financial burdon to me to purchase school clothes and play clothes. 2 sets of clothing per day for 3 kids adds up to a heck of a lot of laundry! I won't make my kids wear the ssa to play in. I didn't make them wear their uniforms to play in.
All SSa does is make the system "look good" to those not involved. Someone thinks that because the children look good in their uniforms then they must be getting a fantastic education. It is ALL about appearances.
I teach in an elementary school where the current dress code was enforced. We had few if any problems. Our biggest problems came when we had to be "tuck in" police at the end of the year. We lost a great deal of time educating our children to enforce the new rule.
The whole thing is rediculous. It isn't needed. It will be a burdon to many parents. However, no one has listened to the parents against school uniforms nor have they taken the research into account.
Hey, if you are in khaki pants, polo shirt, and it is tucked in you must be doing great. Not!

Wendy said...

Are you serious about the black arm bands? Wouldn't that be a little Neo-Nazis?

I agree with you Kay—Mrs. Brooks—that there is far more important issues to discuss; far more is at stake for our children and their education than the clothing. So get on with meatier matters, dress your children according to the dress code--for now that is SSA.

I want to know how to get more A.P. classes in all of the comprehensive HS. How can we make all of our HS more appealing to our academic achievers while at the same time raising test scores and graduation rates for our at-risk children? Cbage needs to work on his grammar skills. sphew!

CBadge wrote: Tell that to this millions of doctors, lawyer, politicians, Fortune 500 CEO's and execs and even MNPS teachers, principals, and yes...Dr. Garcia himself...whom all where pinstripes and striped polo shirts! But no!...that's outlawed by this "SSA" policy.

Nashteach said...


The black arm bands are from the landmark American case- Tinker vs. Des Moines. Students were suspended for wearing black arm bands to protest the war. They sued, saying the suspension violated their first amendment rights. The court agreed that the armbands themselves did not present a disruption to the school mission and that students do not shed their constitutional rights when they enter a school building.

Part of the reason the court decided as it did was that the school seemed to be singling out that specific protest- that it wasn't the armbands the students were suspended for, but their expressing antiwar sentiment.

They would likely hold the same view of armbands or other messages that do not violate the standard attire policy itself. A student in Wilson County was suspended for wearing a fairly small message on her shirt that said "The Board voted and all I got was this lousy uniform" and "I miss my real clothes." U.S. District Court held that the administration could not punish the student for the message which was not vulgar and did not disrupt school business.

Parents who expect the Courts to come along and strike down the entire policy will be extremely disappointed. But if administrators in our 132 schools believe that the new policy allows them to prohibit any and all expression by students, I suspect they will find themselves in court needing to prove that the speech was either vulgar or disruptive. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm guessing that legally we can make them wear the attire, but we can't make them like it.

I'd add that symbolic protest is actually much more American than it is German.

This is a really good resource on law as it relates to school uniforms and dress codes.


Eric Holcombe said...


I can appreciate the brer rabbit approach here, but I don't think the free-speechers will realize that we don't have a Constitutional right to demand taxes from our neighbor. If you choose to go to the government school, you'll wear what the government darn well pleases. It isn't your only option. Unfortunately, it is the only one with automatic funding.

I see the dress codes as the equivalent of zero tolerance discipline. No one truly wants freedom of expression. Those that champion the cause to allow "Queer and Proud of it" to be worn on a shirt in the classroom will be offended by the student in the same room with a "I hate Fags" shirt. You cannot have "freedom of expression" and prevent eventual offense by others' expression if there is no standard for what is "offensive" or "disrupts". It is a matter of preference. It doesn't work when the public doesn't share the same preference (or the 20 kids in the room). The result is the government must dictate what your preference is going to be. They are not in the business of pleasing all the people all the time. Thus, you get zero tolerance discipline, uniforms, academics...

Wendy said...

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, said that a decision was made to challenge only the restriction on the logos rather than the dress code itself because most dress codes have been upheld under current law.

Kay Brooks said...

Thank you Eric. You stated it very well. One man's freedom often is another man's offense.

The result is the government must dictate what your preference is going to be. They are not in the business of pleasing all the people all the time.

So true. So true.


Why the logo itself?

Nashteach said...

If I may, and not to advocate the position necessarily, but to clarify, "logo" is a pretty vague term. It can't mean just an alligator or a polo pony. As I said above, I suspect that Courts would allow SSA but would disallow prohibition on "speech" broadly defined. In other words, we can enforce SSA guidelines but must still allow students to wear things such as political buttons, as long as they are not disruptive or vulgar/offensive. (And there are precedents that set better guidelines than Mr. Holcombe suggests.) I think these precedents would allow students to wear buttons ranging from "Say No to Uniforms" to "956.30 in grocery tax/year. Cut the food tax.” On the other hand, a case upheld a suspension for a girl wearing a shirt “Drugs s**k” because the word “s**k” is considered offensive.

I’m thinking that the ACLU is considering “logo” to mean any symbol beyond the actual clothing itself, and that if MNPS allows company made alligators or polo ponies, they have to allow students to place symbols on their person as well, like armbands or buttons. Court precedent would seem to uphold this view.

One thing I suspect they’d challenge is the exception for students wearing uniforms of “nationally recognized student groups.” It would probably violate equal protection to allow Boy Scout uniforms and disallow, say, NRA Youth programs to wear clothing promoting their group.

Also, along the same lines, the policy allows for two inch logos, except that the school logo may be any size. It could be argued that favors one viewpoint, promoting the school, above any other viewpoint. I think it’s an argument that’s over the top, but there are folks who claim we spend our days wickedly indoctrinating allegiance to the state, so who knows who’d find that unfair.

Third, the “two inch” rule itself. I don’t see any case to back this up either way, but, since schools must allow nondisruptive free expression, can they set a size limit on this expression? On one hand, it is a clear, equitably enforced policy and would arguably make the free speech more likely to not be disruptive. On the other hand, it is clearly a limitation that seems kind of arbitrary. In other words, can a principal really defend suspending a student for having a 3 inch message that says “What would Jesus Do?” or “Say No to Drugs”?

Anyway, I think they expect to define “logo” broadly. Legally, they’re probably right. I know when I was I school, an alligator or polo pony meant something. Still does. It’s a message- and schools get into really tricky stuff when they start picking and choosing which messages you allow.

As a teacher, I’m not worried for myself. We can’t suspend, all we can do is question or refer students to administrators. If the board or central office doesn’t clarify some of these issues, principals across the system may have very different interpretations, including what constitutes a logo, and could run into serious equal protection issues.