(aka, Why Johnny Can't Read and Janie Can't Write)
May 26, 2005
I was sitting in the lunchroom today, trying to enjoy my shitty school lunch (I'm kidding.... it's only semi-shitty), when the Principal yelled at a girl to stop doing something (I don't remember what). She stopped and went back to talking to whoever was next to her in the lunch line, but the Principal made a comment to a teacher who was sitting across from me that her skirt looked like it was awfully short. I looked up there and noted that her skirt would indeed fail the old "put your hands by your side" test (y'know, where if the skirt comes above your fingertips when you place your palms flat against your side, then it's too short). So yeah, ok, this 3rd grade kid was wearing a really short skirt. Whatever.
But, for some reason the matter of that short skirt wouldn't leave my mind and the more I thought about it, the more it occured to me that this is a major fucking problem with the public school system. I internalized a Q&A session where I asked myself "Why can't Johnny read?" and the answer came back, "Because Johnny's teacher is too fucking worried about whether his shirt is tucked in!" I asked myself, "Why can't Janie write?" and the answer came back, "Because Janie's teacher is more worried about the length of her skirt than whether she's learning a damn thing!"
And those thoughts ring true, the more I think about them. The problem with a dress code is that it is essentially saying "We, the government, have every right to define decency for your children." What if that girl had been my daughter and I, as her father, had no problem with the length of her skirt? Well that would've been just too fucking bad, according to the government. They, you see, apparently have a monopoly on teaching kids decency and propriety. Parents have no say in this.
Well sorry, but I have a huge fucking problem with the government teaching our children what is and is not "appropriate." Even if the government didn't have an extremely warped view of propriety, it is still the job of the fucking parents to teach their kids what is "appropriate" based on their personal beliefs. Now, admittedly, a lot of parents just don't do their damn jobs as parents. In that case, sure, I can understand taking a child aside and saying "Look, that outfit is something that maybe you shouldn't be wearing. It just doesn't look very good on you and I think you'd look better wearing something else." But, teachers are just far too busy to take the time to help a child who might need to have such things explained to him or her, so it's easier if they just throw out a blanket ban on everything that an artibrary committee of old people decides they don't like.
I have never and will never punish a child for violating the dress code. Even if that same girl came to school wearing Daisy Dukes, I still wouldn't write her up. As long as she's doing her work and LEARNING something (anybody remember the concept of learning...it's that thing school is supposed to be for), I really don't give a fuck how she's dressed. The only time I've ever mentioned the dress code to a kid was because I was trying to keep them from getting into trouble, not because I actually give a rat's ass whether Johnny's shirt is tucked in or Janie's skirt is too short. Really, who fucking cares?
Maybe if the school's would stop busting the kids' chops over how they're fucking dressed and concentrate on, oh I dunno, TEACHING instead, the kids might learn a lot more shit. Hell, maybe (just maybe) the President wouldn't have to ask "Is our children learning?" No, Mr. Bush, our children is not learning. They is not learning because they teachers is too busy being the fucking fashion police to worry about trivial things like DOING THEIR FUCKING JOBS!!!!!
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