Monday, October 12, 2009

This time it ain't Tigger socks


This is 11 year old Dean Martin from Adele Harrison Middle School in Sonoma, California.  Dean wore the Vallejo firefighter shirt on 9/11 to honor those that died in the line of duty on that tragic day.  Well, guess who has a blue/red dress code.  From

"...the T-shirt violated Adele Harrison Middle School's dress code, which does not allow students to wear solid red or solid blue clothing due to the affiliation with gang colors. When Dean got to school, he was sent to the office for breaking the dress code. "When a student breaks the dress code for the first time, they're given a warning and asked to change their shirt," said Karla Conroy, principal at Adele, who added that Dean was given the chance to change into his gym shirt but refused."

We've seen stories like this before, most notoriously the Tigger Socks from Redwood Middle School in Napa.  Of course, this isn't about cute cartoon characters, it's about the recognition of American heroes. 

I really appreciate how the Martin family reacted.  The kid rode his bike home and then the family explained that they would follow the rules, but expressed their displeasure.  No lawsuits. 

While I understand the Martin family's displeasure, the school did the right thing in being consistent with their rules.  Of course the shirt wasn't malicious, and of course the intent is to stop gang activity, but if you are going to be a credible educational  institution, you need to tell Dean to change the shirt.  They gave him the option and he declined, so he was given a consequence.  It had to happen. 

However, I also think that the dress code needs to be looked at for viability.  I don't like the idea of banning colors for this very reason.  I wear red ties and blue ties to school all the time.  Am I breaking the dress code?  In theory yes, although the rule isn't designed for my beautiful choice of ties.  Either require uniforms or better yet, attack the gang problem by attacking the gangs themselves.  We had a loose interpretation a few years ago of a color dress code, and it slowly evolved into specific articles of clothing; Shoelaces, belts, do-rags, and hats.  The policy is more focused and has caused much fewer dress code issues.     

In the end, let's remember that the colors aren't doing the damage, gang-bangers are.

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