03/27/07 — Dress code talk: Parents should speak out on what they want to see

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Dress code talk: Parents should speak out on what they want to see

The Wayne County Board of Education has made a stand — and now it is up to the parents of the county’s students to decide if they want to see the members’ proposal enacted.

Parents will receive a survey asking them to review proposed dress codes for county schools and to respond as to whether or not they want them in their children’s schools.

If 70 percent of the parents respond in the affirmative, there will be new dress codes in schools.

And many parents should think seriously about tightening standards.

The limits the board members have imposed are not unreasonable — and they will not require a huge expenditure on the part of parents.

They are simple to follow standards that let students know that school is a place that deserves serious work and respect — not a chance to show off your latest fashion acquisition. And for those students who cannot afford a varied and stylish wardrobe, it gives them a chance to fit in — not to stand out as one of the few who can’t have the latest jeans.

The changes in the dress code alone will not make Wayne County children better students. There will be no magic wand that will transform those who do not take school seriously now into studious overachievers. That will take some work in other areas, too.

But putting a standard on student dress — and sticking to it — sends the message that this community takes education and school seriously. It also gives students a taste of what it is like to work in the real world where someone tells you how you will dress every day.

Forget student individuality. Forget the fear of uniforms. This measure is a chance to get it right when it comes to priorities.

Schools are not fashion runways. They are places where books and lessons should be the focus of the discussion.

By setting stricter dress codes, we are giving students a chance to eliminate the distraction of working so hard to fit in — at least as far as their outward appearance goes. Maybe then, they can spend a little more time studying and learning.

Eliminating distractions is critical if we are going to see test scores and more importantly, retained knowledge, increase — and if we are going to have high school graduates who are ready to succeed in the real world.

This is a chance to give them a first lesson.

Published in Editorials on March 27, 2007 1:32 PM