The subject I have chosen to research is School Dress Codes and how they affect the education system. I am very interested in this subject for many reasons; for one, the personal experiences that I have had as a young girl . One ground for this interest is the sexism of the topic, and how females are more susceptible to losing valuable classroom time after being called out for ‘distracting other students’. Another point that intrigues me about this topic is how gangs are prominently visible in teens clothing, and how it’s being ignore (to an extent) by the staff and administration of the school.
Calhoun High School, located in Manhattan, states in the school handbook, “Calhoun does not have a detailed dress code. We expect that all students will dress in a way that is appropriate for a school setting and that their choices respect Calhoun’s intent to sustain a community that is inclusive of a diverse range of identities,” according to Steve Nelson, who for 18 years acted of the head for the school. He continues by saying that we should not repress the expression of students. I agree with Nelsons opinion on the subject, however, I believe that not having any dress standards could be damaging.
I am taking the stance towards this subject as being in the support of school dress codes and the purpose they serve towards encouraging an active education in young students. I support amending existing dress code standards and making them stricter and enforced in a harsher manner for both genders. I am not, however, in support of uniforms in the education system. I think that uniforms take away expression from young people’s lives. I do think that changing school dress codes according to religion and culture in the district would be a fair way for everyone to have representation in the rules that they are required to follow for 4+ years.
In my paper I would like to investigate the words and opinions of other writers that agree with me, and also those whose opinions oppose mine, and see how they support their stance with evidence and unbiased data. I know that many other people believe that having school dress codes allows for students to come into a learning environment as equals in materialistic aspects. I also know that some argue that uniforms allow for distractions to be diminished, and learning to be the basic focus of all students. On the other hand, some would debate that having school dress standards at all makes students feel trapped with no way to express themselves as unique individuals. I think that with enough research I can find enough evidence and background to successfully argue my case.
One issue I think schools face is the presence of violence and fear in the hallways. School shootings are more present today than in any other generation, and I think that the way a student dresses plays a large role in the massacre of young pupils. Many gang signs are not being monitored in the way that they should in order to successfully protect students from violence and hate, and I think students need to be penalized for encouraging, and participating in such behavior.
The questions from class brought forward many of these questions that I intend to analyze in depth, and I also intend to include many of my personal stories into the paper along with stories from other students. I think that using these individual testimonials will allow credibility to be present throughout the paper. In addition, I would like to find many different sources to quote, including; podcasts, books, articles, and research papers. I know that some of these informants are based purely on opinion and the others are strong in data and observations, both will give me enough information to make my claim with clarity.
Enforcing the student dress code does not have to be a large and dramatic process. One veteran teacher, Suzanne Capek Tingley, proposes her protocol when addressing infractions with dress codes. “I admit that sometimes I just gave a student a warning if it was a minor issue. Other times, I’d say something like, ‘I think that top is out of dress code. I’m going to give you a pass to the dean to see what she thinks.” It’s important to be respectful to kids and not make it a bigger issue than it needs to be.” I believe that following Suzannes example would make following dress standards a lot more pleasant for students. When violations of the rules are brought public the student becomes susceptible to harassment from other students, embarrassment, and lost classroom time. Tingley suggests that rather than calling the student out in front of the class, she chooses to address the student after class time, in order to avoid a public consultation.
The standards of school dress codes is not something we can afford to abandon in today’s society. School dress codes allow for students safety and education to come before distractions and violence. I do not think that school uniforms should be put in place in public schools, due to the issue of repressing students expression entirely. I do think that students should be allowed to represent themselves with their clothing choices, as long as those choices represent and uphold the dignity of the community and the school.
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