Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cleveland's New Student Dress Code

I've had mixed feelings regarding the new district-wide dress code policy announced this week for all Cleveland students. (Follow the comments on the Plain Dealer article here)

My first response when teachers were polled this past school year regarding our thoughts on the proposed dress code was,

"Oh great! A smoke and mirrors policy. An easy, highly-visible rule change, set-up to appease the public, so the administration can appear to be doing something to improve the schools. How will this help my teaching? How will it be enforced? Will good students loose valuable classroom time for dress code violations?"

I could envision students being sent home for wearing a pin-striped shirt instead of a solid color, or serving suspension time "in-house", which many kids regard as a joke not a punishment, rather than attending class.

When I discussed the proposed dress code with my students, a number of them said they would consider transferring to a charter school with no dress code, or enroll in an on-line home-school charter.

It will be interesting to see if there will be any drop in enrollment corresponding to the new dress code. I will also be curious to see the corresponding statistics for attendance, suspensions, and dress code related disciplinary actions. Will anyone be following those numbers?
I know that everyone will be watching the districts' test scores in the spring. Will collared shirts and twill slacks improve teaching and learning?
Will schools that can not even managed to keep students from roaming the halls and hanging out in the parking lots be able to enforce a dress code?
Will there be a survey at the end of the school year to evaluate the dress code policy?

Yes, I did say my feelings were mixed regarding a district-wide dress code, and so far I have only expressed concerns. What I do feel positive about is the fact that the superintendent has listened to the community, and responded. The voting, tax paying, citizens of the city were tired of watching teenagers traipsing to school in drooping jeans and hoochie-mama skirts. They wanted to see kids walking to school looking like they were ready to work instead of party.

Dr. Sanders came to Cleveland asking questions, he paid attention, and now he has acted. A new dress code isn't the silver bullet that will fix the city's failing schools, but communication is. Resist the temptation to hide in the ivory tower of academia, and keep on talking to those of us who are in the classrooms, in the community, and on the streets. That ivory tower, the pedestal of a superintendent, can also be very much of a silo, with its layers of bureaucracy acting as a wall, keeping educational leaders insulated not only from the community they serve, but the teachers who work on the educational front lines.

Communication is the key.

Make yourself and you thoughts accessible. Keep the conversation going.
How about adding a superintendent's blog to that new CMSD website?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are right.In my school I am disgusted how kids are being thrown into in-school-suspension for wearing a stripe on their shirt or a logo.On the CMSD website sanders claims that,"My vision for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District is to provide every student with the opportunity to have access to a quality education."He's a hipocrit.If his statement was true he wouldnt let kids get and inferior education based on what clothes they wear.