Ten Teachers Schools Need to Fire Immediately

I am a firm believer there are many more good, even outstanding, teachers than bad teachers.  However, I sadly admit there are teachers who need to be chased out the school house door as far from teaching as possible.  They are not necessarily bad people, but they lack the “want to,” the “get up and go,” and in some cases the “content knowledge” to be a good classroom teacher.  Their lack of capacity to be a good teacher, their lack of passion for their profession, and for some, their lack of compassion for their students shows in their poor preparation for class, wasting student time showing movies and assigning busy work, and their disregard for school policies and procedures.  Such teachers are a black eye to the teaching profession and fodder for those who badmouth the profession.

As much as I hate to speak negatively about teachers, there are a few nauseating rotten apples that give all teachers a bad name.  The good teachers know who they are, but they won’t say anything, and the students know who they are, but no one in the schools will listen to them.  However, being retired, I can say who they are and even call them by name!  With all the negatives floating around about public schools,  it is imperative these deadbeats, these non-professionals, these blights on the good name of teachers be sought out and identified.  It is time someone told these poor excuses for teachers they are paid to be prepared for class, they are paid to teach and not show movies, and they are paid to enforce and follow school policy.  If being prepared is too difficult, if teaching takes too much effort, or if they don’t like the policies of the school district paying them, they need to find employment elsewhere – preferably outside teaching.  It is time the bad apples were called on the carpet to either put their classroom in order or pack their bags!

Ten Teachers Schools Need to Fire

Schools Need to Get Rid of these teachers . The teacher who . . . WHY?
MOVIE DIRECTOR uses class time to show movies from beginning to end under the pretense of teaching, but all they are really doing is wasting valuable instruction time. This person does not understand how to utilize movies as a teaching aid and needs to be trained, this person is lazy and looking for ways to kill time, or this person is incompetent in his/her content area.  The bottom line is either train this person or show him/her the door.
SLOTH regularly comes to class unprepared to teach. This person is lazy, has too many irons in the fire to prepare properly, or has other priorities over teaching.  Not replacing this person is an injustice to students.
 LOST DUCK hates his/her job as a teacher. This person is in the wrong profession and needs help finding something he/she will like better.  Take care to steer this person as far as possible from teaching.
DREAMER doesn’t hate teaching, but would rather be somewhere else teaching. Rather than cultivating green pastures where he/she is, this person is looking elsewhere for greener pastures.  Help this person locate that pasture – quickly!
BABYSITTER regularly gives busy-work assignments to keep students occupied rather than teach. This person doesn’t know how to teach or doesn’t want to teach.  Schools need teachers, not babysitters!  Get rid of this person and hire someone who wants to teach!
PLACE HOLDER teaches for a paycheck until something better comes along; It would be cheaper and the kids would be better off with a substitute teacher than this dud.
WARM FUZZY does not support or enforce the school rules and policies. This person makes things harder for everybody – themselves, colleagues, students, parents, and administrators.  Part of a teacher’s job is to support and enforce school rules and policies.  If a teacher cannot do that, the teacher should be assisted in finding another profession.
SCROOGE does not like kids. A person who does not like kids should not be a teacher.  This person needs a one-way ticket on the first train out!
BORN PERFECTION  

does not see a need to read or study professionally to become a better teacher – knows it all.

 

Teaching is a life time commitment to personal and professional learning.  Over time, those teachers who think they are above such a commitment, refuse to make such a commitment, or do not have the capacity to commit to personal and professional growth become a liability to the school learning environment and should be replaced.
LOUNGE JOCKEY is negative about kids, colleagues, parents, and the administration. This person is a cancer.  Cut this person before he/she sours everybody.  The Lounge Jockey loves to ride gossip, talk about everyone, and meddle negatively in everyone’s business.  Over time, this person’s negativity can ruin a school.

If you recognize a teacher on this list, try to talk to them, but be careful.  Confronting such an individual could be like telling a mama one of her babies comes from bad seed.  No matter how true or how nice you try to say it, you better be ready for fireworks and heavy duty explosives.  Therefore, it might be wiser to discreetly share this list with a bad apple teacher by circling one of the ten names in the chart and placing it in the teacher’s mailbox or leaving it on the teacher’s desk.  Will such action make the teacher change for the better?  Probably not, but it might encourage them to move to a charter school (Just joking – bad teachers don’t belong in any school).  The bottom line is that either colleagues or administrators need to get the attention of these people and help them change or move on.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 30, 2017

Three Ways to Fix America

Dr. Parag Khanna, a leading global strategist, CNN Global Contributor, and author of Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State, writes that America needs a change.  He says the American people no longer trust their government and the only way to restore trust is for Americans to learn from countries such as Switzerland.  According to Dr. Khanna, the best form of government for the 21st century is a technocracy, which is a government led by experts and/or panels of experts.  Therefore, he says the United States needs to do three things to fix itself:

  1. The United States needs to move to a seven-member presidency. Instead of having one President, the United States would be governed by a committee of seven presidents;
  2. The United States needs to abolish what Dr. Khanna calls an ineffective Senate and replace it with an Assembly of Governors. Under his plan, each state would have two governors who would jointly govern their state as well as represent their state in Washington; and
  3. The United States needs to build dignity back into civil service jobs by putting quality people – not friends, relatives, and people owed favors – in civil service positions.

Dr. Khanna’s technocracy idea is very similar to Donald Trump’s campaign promises of placing the most qualified people in key government positions.  Unfortunately, with such block headed nominations and confirmations as Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, it is obvious the Trump Administration either has no intention of making good on that campaign promise, or they have yet to get a handle on quality control.  However, to be fair, I seriously doubt Dr. Khanna’s technocracy idea would fair any better.

When it comes to quality control, more people involved in key governing positions and equity in hiring would not necessarily equate to fixing what ails America.  Seven presidents, two governors in each state, and government hiring void of nepotism and political favors might sound good, but would it work in the United States?  It’s doubtful.  Increasing the number of presidents and governors would do little more than guarantee nothing ever got done, and promoting hiring practices void of nepotism and discrimination would send shock waves from Washington, D.C. to Pumpkin Patch, Mississippi.  Simply put, Dr. Khanna’s technocracy idea would not work in the United States!

Technocracy will not work in this country for three basic reasons:

  1. Technocracy Idea #1: Seven presidents govern by committee:

Reason it will not work:  Most everyone knows there is one thing a committee does well – NOTHING!  We can’t get things done with one President, so why would anyone believe seven people with seven separate agendas could possibly make things better?

  1. Technocracy Idea #2: The Governors Assembly:

Reason it will not work:   The reason this will not work is basically the same as #1.  Can you imagine having two Phil Bryants in Jackson, Mississippi? How about a Democrat and Republican governor sharing the governorship?  The Good Lord is struggling to help us with a single Republican governor.  Can you imagine the mess there would be if we had a Democrat and Republican in office at the same time?

  1. Technocracy Idea #3: Do away with nepotism and favors in civil service hiring:

Reason it will not work:   Point #3 makes some sense, but America is a nation of strokers – you stroke mine and I’ll stroke yours, so it is doubtful Dr. Khanna’s third idea would work any better than what we have now.  We are too deep into giving and receiving favors to stop anytime soon!

Whether Dr. Khanna’s ideas would work is something we will probably never know.  Americans are too wrapped up in themselves and personal agendas to risk changing anything before they receive what they feel they are entitled; therefore, the cycle will continue.  However, it is nice to see someone calmly offer solutions rather than screaming for change between obscenities and name calling.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 24, 2017

The Human Achilles Heel – Reading

Zombies can teach us a thing or two about the importance of reading.  However, getting a zombie to sit down for an interview and talk without it biting your head off is tricky at best.  While most people live in a world of rush, rush, rush, zombies have learned to slow the world down.  They understand slow and intentional is the key to everything, especially a prosperous life.  It is the difference between indigestion and a heart attack.  Therefore, they never rush into anything, especially taking over the world.  They are slow, methodical, and intentional to a fault.

For example, look at reading.  Reading is an intentional activity exercised by higher order species.  In other words, if you walk upright without your knuckles dragging the ground and you have a lick of sense about you, in theory, you should be a reader or at least capable of reading.  Of course, there are always exceptions such as the politicians running the government or those poor souls who buy into late night infomercials on television.  Those wacky doodles aside, serious readers such as zombies are intentional about their reading.  In fact, they are often more intentional about reading than they are about cannibalism.  When they get involved in a good book or find a fascinating resource, they sometimes go days without eating anything other than a slice of ear or a quick eyeball – you know, snack food.

Most zombies I have interviewed say it is easier to find someone to eat than it is to find a good book to read and the time to read it.  Finding time to read is difficult, but zombies have made time for reading a priority even when it means not going on the prowl as much as they like.  To their credit, they, unlike humans, live by a code that emphasizes daily reading.  They know a thing or two about brain dead, so unlike many humans, they are relentless in their pursuit of stimulating brain activity.

Even zombie leaders look for ways to scratch out a few minutes to read, and they are intentional when it comes to modeling reading for their followers.  That is why it is not uncommon to find huge herds of zombies reading as they migrate across the nation.  Finding a zombie reading on doorsteps outside a home staked out for lunch or dinner is even more common.  Such devotion to reading can be attributed to great leadership.   Great leaders insist on knowledgeable and healthy followers, and there is not a better way to increase mental and physical health than to read.

There has been a great deal of research into zombies, and one of the most interesting findings has been the revelation that it is their devotion to reading that makes them so formidable.  Their success at moving massive herds across deserts and through noon time traffic jams in New York, Atlanta, and Eastabuchie is not luck.  By reading regularly, they keep up with such important information as the latest migratory data and traffic avoidance strategies.  Although they might turn stomachs on first look and appear frightening, in truth, they are far less terrifying than humans who don’t read.  The research clearly indicates, as a species, they are simply better readers than humans and therefore tend to be more rational thinkers.

Some will argue that is not true.  However, all anyone needs to do is look at human Facebook pages, Twitter messages, and text messages to see humans have an aversion to reading anything beyond a hundred words with a strong preference for forty words and under.  It is hard to say if they are genetically tied to a minimalistic reading quota, they are genetically lazy, or simply brain dead.  A quota or lazy gene may be legitimate issues, but brain dead is not an excuse – especially for humans.  Zombies are brain dead, but that does not prevent them from out reading humans ten to one.  When you take into consideration there are unrealistic restrictions that prevent zombies from having an Amazon.com account or a library card, a ten to one ratio is beyond remarkable.

On the other side, the human side, it is a safe bet in today’s America that anything written beyond one-hundred words will effectively turn off ninety-five percent of the American population.  If a foreign government wished to successfully invade and conquer the United States all they need to do is offer free cable, internet, cell phones, and electronic tablets to the public on any day of the week and especially on Super Bowl Sunday.  In the United States, the less than five percent reading or abstaining from electronic stimulation on any given day would be hard pressed to repel a foreign invasion.  The same can be said of a zombie invasion.  The only difference is the zombies are already here.  They have grown from a aggravating parasite to an immediate threat to the human way of life, and they have done so by intentionally reigniting brain electrodes while humans in America have effectively electronically sterilized their brains!

Because they are prolific readers, the zombie general population is as much as eight steps ahead of the human general population.  To put this in proper perspective, it is like comparing the brain activity of an amoeba to the brain activity of Albert Einstein where the amoeba represents the non-reading human population and Einstein represents a zombie nation of readers.  Before they became readers, zombies rambled aimlessly across the nation getting their heads split by machetes or screwdrivers driven through an eye socket into the brain.  Other than the occasional rat killing, there was little for zombies to look forward to in life.  However, once they turned to reading, their lives changed for the better, especially after they formed book study groups to study such classics as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.  Through reading, the Zombie Nation has reinvented itself, and as a result, these blood gurglers of the dead are fast becoming unstoppable.

While American leaders indulge in self-importance, self-righteousness, party agendas, conspiracies, and the dumbing down of their followers, zombie leaders are growing themselves and building a base of highly literate followers.  They are constantly reading, researching, trying new ideas, embracing them when they fit, and discarding them when they don’t.  They are slowly taking control of America, and they are doing it without firing a single shot.  They are intellectually preparing themselves for the day when American humans can no longer read much less comprehend their gun manuals.  The human Achilles heel (reading) has become the sword by which zombies will inherit the nation.  While humans have become complacent and comfortable in who they are and in what they do, zombies led by the example of wise well-read leaders, are reading every cookbook in America in preparation for the day they take over.  Complacency rarely happens with zombies.  Their intensity is unrelenting!  They never relax; they are totally focused on their next book and meal.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 21, 2017

Growing Up!  The Worst Thing about Grandkids

When it comes to dealing with our grandkids, my wife and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  She is all about supporting rules and parameters set by their parents while I tend to give them whatever they want and let the parents deal with the fallout when they get home.  The one thing we agree on is you have never experienced perfection until you become a grandparent.  For a grandmother, there will never be a more handsome or better mannered young man than her grandson, and for a grandfather, a granddaughter is the perfect confirmation of heaven and angels.  Unfortunately, grandkids are not all perfection.  They have issues, such as growing up, that can make grandparenting extremely difficult.

It is not fair, but like puppies, grandchildren grow up.  Growing up does not diminish a grandparent’s love for a grandchild, but it does wreak havoc on the number and quality of hugs and kisses a grandparent receives.  As grandkids grow older, they start needing more personal space, which grandparents do not always understand.  They sometimes take it personal, but a sixteen-year-old is simply repulsed by old slobbery lips.  That a teenager would rather be with his/her friends than eating cookies with grandma and listening to grandpa talk about milking cows is a no brainer.  The older they get the more independent and less slobber absorbing they become.  Grandma and grandpa are no longer super heroes with a bottomless cookie jar or inspiring stories of flying with Peter Pan and joining the Foreign Legion as a boy.  As they grow, a child’s universe expands, which means grandparents are often relegated to playing second fiddle to sports, dance, movies with friends, slumber parties, church, and school events.  Even on the increasingly rare occasions the grandkids visit, grandparents find themselves sharing time with Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and text messages that are as continuous as the waves at the beach.  It is a sad fact, but the older the grandkids get the less grandparents see them.  There should be a law that says grandchildren between the ages of birth and eighty must call or visit their grandparents at least once a week.

Another problem with growing up is it becomes harder and harder for grandparents to spoil their grandkids.  Let’s be real, the only purpose in life for grandparents is to pander to the whims and fancies of their grandkids.  Take that away from them, and all that is left are old folks living for the sake of senior discounts, bingo, keno machines, and eating the buffet at Shoneys.  The only thing that keeps grandparents kicking and off the respirator is pampering their grandkids.  Functional grandparenting is just that simple.  However, spoiling grandkids as they grow older is anything but simple.  When they were little, a piece of candy, a cookie, a quarter maybe a dollar, or a bottle of green slime found on sale at Walmart were all that was needed to keep their attention.  However, as they grow into teenhood, attention decreases in direct correlation to the tightness of their jeans!  The tighter they wear their jeans the harder it is for them to focus and the more expensive the toy or bribe it takes for them to show grandma and grandpa the time of day.  I don’t know why; maybe, tight jeans restrict oxygen to the brain. 

One of the most traumatic issues grandparents deal with as the grandkids grow older is the fear they’ll take art lessons.  Imagine grandma’s refrigerator void of hearts cut from construction paper with squiggly “I love Mawmaw” and “Pappaw is the best” scrawled across them.  Think of her refrigerator without pictures of stick people holding hands in front of a red house with a purple sky.  Grandma’s refrigerator without grandkid art would be like a colorless rainbow; it would not make sense.  However, that is what happens when the grandkids grow older and take art lessons.  Their art becomes refined and more intricate, which is wonderful, but it comes at a cost; it loses its innocence.  It is like replacing the Lascaux cave drawings in France with the latest decorator wall paper.  There is joy in the new, but there will always be that nagging sense of loss.  For grandparents, that equates to their fear of being painted out of the picture.

A child’s first Christmas toy is a grandparent; they’re lovable, huggable, and easy to manipulate.  That is the way it should be, and the way grandparents want it to be, always.  Grandkids are grandparents’ second chance to get it right, and grandparents will face off against the world to make sure nothing messes up that chance – not even growing up.  Honestly though, grandparents take great joy in watching their grandkids grow up, but at the same time it reminds them that, like their children, growing up means moving on, and that is not easy for old codgers who have moved as far as they care to go.  Therefore, my wife and I have but one thing to say to our grandchildren – come see us as often as you can and bring a hug.  Don’t worry about squeezing too hard; grandparents don’t break easily unless left alone.   

JL

©Jack Linton, March 7, 2017

Such are the Stupid Things We Do (redo)

[Note:  I rewrote sections of this because it was more stupid than usual, but such are the stupid things we do.]

I don’t know what it is about our society, but it seems somebody somewhere is always doing something stupid.   Whether it is by design, by chance, or out of our penchant for convenience, there is never a shortage of the ridiculous.   Some of it we create and some of it is created for us, but either way as Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  That is even truer today.  Maybe, it is because, in today’s world, we have more opportunities to face stupidity, or maybe, we are just smarter today and can better identify stupid when we see it.

One of the stupidest things I have seen lately was a isign in a local PETCO store. First, I must explain, I am an animal lover (for the most part), but I have this unique ability to recognize animals are not human. Yes, I am one of those rare throwbacks who believe people are people and animals are animals. I am one of those horrible people who thinks there is nothing wrong with giving a dog or cat a biscuit or bone from the table. My wife and I make sure our pets are up to date on necessary shots and go to the vet when they are truly ill, but I do not buy into bi-annual doggy dental cleanings, doggy colonoscopies, or doggy birthing rooms, and the same goes for cats, hamsters, rabbits and pigs. For heaven’s sake, five minutes after a dog gets his teeth cleaned it is sniffing and licking anything nasty that comes within sniffing distance of its nose and tongue.  Therefore, are doggy dental cleanings really worth the effort?  Probably not, yet, such are the stupid things we do!

I have yet to see the value in flossing for my dog, but my wife insists dogs should have good manners, so we took our six month old, sweet as sin, hell on four legs, lab mix to PETCO for obedience training. While waiting for the instructor, I noticed a sign outlining guidelines for pet adoptions. I could not believe what I read! In addition to screening individuals for pet compatibility, anyone wishing to adopt a pet was subject to a polygraph and required to release their tax records for the past seven years to prove they were financially stable and could  provide a good home for the adopted pet. The adopting family had to agree to a criminal and psychiatric background check as well as an on-site home inspection and evaluation.  It was also recommended the new pet be provided private space with a written schedule for when human/pet interaction was permissible.  In a side note, there was a recommendation, though not required, the private space be a separate room with its own pooh facilities. I told my wife the guidelines went way too far, but she calmly assured me the guidelines were intended to match the pet with caring adults.  She said the requirements and suggestions were not a personal conspiracy against me or others like me.  I was not sure how to take “others like me,” but I accepted her explanation. Besides, it was obvious the whole thing was written by a liberal. I could even accept that, but when I read the last guideline that said pet counseling may be required, I fell to the floor laughing.

Pet counseling! I could see Simon, our lab mix, reclining on a shrink’s sofa, one paw lying across his eyes, the other holding a cigarette from which he took an occasional long draw. A female shrink sat across from him, legs crossed, an old time yellow legal pad and pencil in hand, asking questions. “Tell me about your parents,” she said.

Simon took a long draw on the cigarette and thought for a moment. “I only knew my mama for a few short weeks,” he said. “I didn’t know my daddy at all.”

How do you feel about that?” she asked.

Haven’t really given it much thought,” Simon said.

You ever feel depressed because of it?” the shrink asked.

Nothing that a little licking can’t cheer up,” Simon replied.

“Have you ever thought licking might be a sign of a deeper issue?” the female shrink asked.

No mam, when it comes to licking, I like it, so I do it.” Simon said and ground the cigarette into a cat shaped ashtray.  “If it feels good, I pretty much do it without much thought.” 

I believe Simon has life figured out better than any of us.  If it itches, scratch it; if it smells, sniff it; if it feels good, lick it, but whatever you do, don’t over think it.  I am most likely over thinking this pet counseling business, but in my opinion, pet counseling is one of the coolest stupid things people do. It is up there with paying a professional pooper scooper to clean your backyard. It’s true, some folks pay to have someone come to their house once a week and pick up dog and cat pooh.  In fact, pooper scoopers have their own organization, the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists.   It’s true – look it up!  Can you think of anything stupider?  I am not talking about the guy who makes money picking up pet pooh; I admire him for his ingenuity. I am talking about the nitwits who pay him, but such are the stupid things we do!

JL

©ack Linton, February 28, 2017

Such are the Stupid Things We Do

I don’t know what it is about our society, but it seems somebody somewhere is always doing something stupid.   Whether it is by design, by chance, or out of our penchant for convenience, there is never a shortage of the ridiculous.   Some of it we create and some of it is created for us, but either way as Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  That is even truer today.  Maybe, it is because, in today’s world, we have more opportunities to face stupidity, or maybe, we are just smarter today and can better identify stupid when we see it.

One of the stupidest things I have seen lately was a isign in a local PETCO store. First, I must explain, I am an animal lover (for the most part), but I have this unique ability to recognize animals are not human. Yes, I am one of those rare throwbacks who believe people are people and animals are animals. I am one of those horrible people who thinks there is nothing wrong with giving a dog or cat a biscuit or bone from the table. My wife and I make sure our pets are up to date on necessary shots and go to the vet when they are truly ill, but I do not buy into bi-annual doggy dental cleanings, doggy colonoscopies, or doggy birthing rooms, and the same goes for cats, hamsters, rabbits and pigs. For heaven’s sake, five minutes after a dog gets his teeth cleaned it is sniffing and licking anything nasty that comes within sniffing distance of its nose and tongue.  Therefore, are doggy dental cleanings really worth the effort?  Probably not, yet, such are the stupid things we do!

I have yet to see the value in flossing for my dog, but my wife insists dogs should have good manners, so we took our six month old, sweet as sin, hell on four legs, lab mix to PETCO for obedience training. While waiting for the instructor, I noticed a sign outlining guidelines for pet adoptions. I could not believe what I read! In addition to screening individuals for pet compatibility, anyone wishing to adopt a pet was subject to a polygraph and required to release their tax records for the past seven years to prove they were financially stable and could  provide a good home for the adopted pet. The adopting family had to agree to a criminal and psychiatric background check as well as an on-site home inspection and evaluation.  It was also recommended the new pet be provided private space with a written schedule for when human/pet interaction was permissible.  In a side note, there was a recommendation, though not required, the private space be a separate room with its own pooh facilities. I told my wife the guidelines went way too far, but she calmly assured me the guidelines were intended to match the pet with caring adults.  She said the requirements and suggestions were not a personal conspiracy against me or others like me.  I was not sure how to take “others like me,” but I accepted her explanation. Besides, it was obvious the whole thing was written by a liberal. I could even accept that, but when I read the last guideline that said pet counseling may be required, I fell to the floor laughing.

Pet counseling! I could see Simon, our lab mix, reclining on a shrink’s sofa, one paw lying across his eyes, the other holding a cigarette from which he took an occasional long draw. A female shrink sat across from him, legs crossed, an old time yellow legal pad and pencil in hand, asking questions. “Tell me about your parents,” she said.

Simon took a long draw on the cigarette and thought for a moment. “I only knew my mama for a few short weeks,” he said. “I didn’t know my daddy at all.”

How do you feel about that?” she asked.

Haven’t really given it much thought,” Simon said.

You ever feel depressed because of it?” the shrink asked.

Nothing that a little licking can’t cheer up,” Simon replied.

“Have you ever thought licking might be a sign of a deeper issue?” the female shrink asked.

No mam, when it comes to licking, I like it, so I do it.” Simon said and ground the cigarette into a cat shaped ashtray.  “If it feels good, I pretty much do it without much thought.” 

I believe Simon has life figured out better than any of us.  If it itches, scratch it; if it smells, sniff it; if it feels good, lick it, but whatever you do, don’t over think it.  I am most likely over thinking this pet counseling business, but in my opinion, pet counseling is one of the coolest stupid things people do. It is up there with paying a professional pooper scooper to clean your backyard. It’s true, some folks pay to have someone come to their house once a week and pick up dog and cat pooh.  In fact, pooper scoopers have their own organization, the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists.   It’s true – look it up!  Can you think of anything stupider?  I am not talking about the guy who makes money picking up pet pooh; I admire him for his ingenuity. I am talking about the nitwits who pay him, but such are the stupid things we do!

JL

©ack Linton, February 28, 2017

Teachers and Administrators don’t Enforce Rules:   A Case against School Dress Codes!

 

Teachers who do not consistently enforce school rules are not always bad teachers or irresponsible individuals; sometimes some of the best most dedicated teachers in a school do not follow the rules.  Some teachers, like some school administrators, hate confrontation, and enforcing rules means confrontation with the student, confrontation with parents, possible confrontation with the administration, and often negative vibes from students as well as other teachers.  For some, enforcing rules makes their lives messy, uncool, or even unpopular.  Others don’t enforce the rules because they feel they have more important things to do, and then there are those teachers who do not agree with the rule, so they simply ignore it.

So, why have rules in school?  If so many teachers look the other way rather than enforce the rules, why should schools bother with rules in the first place?  The textbook answer is that rules ensure a safe and orderly learning and teaching environment, but do they really?  It can be argued that rules provide a fighting chance to bring order to the chaos; however, is that what educators really want?  No!  What teachers really want is for kids, parents, and school administrators to leave them alone.  For many teachers, rules are tools of convenience frowned upon as an inconvenience and waste of time that creates negative confrontations.  They see teachers and administrators who dodge the rules as the smart ones.  Maybe, they are right, and if so, maybe, rules are not needed in schools!

However, regardless of what some may think, there must be rules!  Rules are necessary to enable teachers to teach and students to learn.  Unfortunately, like all things, there are good rules and rules that are questionable or make little or no sense.  For example, rules dealing with dress codes most definitely fall into the questionable category.  As a former teacher and school administrator, I believe dress codes are necessary, but it has been my experience few teachers agree with me.  Very few teachers really care what students wear to class.  I say this because very few teachers write up students for dress code violations, and the ones that do are often ridiculed by their colleagues.  So why have rules, especially a dress code?  Why hold a student accountable for a dress code that five out of six teachers in the school day ignore?  What is the school administrator to do when the sixth-period teacher turns a student into the office for coming to class naked when that student attended five previous classes in the buff and not a word was said by previous teachers about exposed wingydings in class?  The only option the administrator has at the end of the day is to give the kid a hat and send him home.  Now, I am slightly exaggerating, but when it comes to dress codes, it is truly almost that bad.  I realize correcting a student for a dress code violation shaves precious seconds off teaching the test, especially when there is not a single question on the state assessment that deals with student nudity, unless, maybe, someone slips in a liberal writing prompt.

Over the years, as a school administrator, I developed and enforced more than my fair share of school rules including rules governing dress codes.  To this day, I have forty year old former students walk by me in the mall and intentionally pull their tucked shirttail from their pants with a wink (tucking shirttails was probably the most despised rule I ever implemented as a principal).  I was a stickler for rules, and maybe too much so, but I believed then, and I believe now if you have a rule it should be enforced.  I also believe using a rule for any reason other than its original intent (i.e., allowing students to break the rule as a reward) is counter-productive and sends a mixed message to students, parents, and the community.

Therein lies my issue with current dress codes in schools.  Instead of teaching a lesson or addressing a safety issue, dress code rules in many schools today have become a part of the school reward system.  If students exhibit good behavior for the month, if there is a big district game, if a student collects the most Popsicle sticks, if a student brings a dollar to school, and the list goes on and on, they are allowed to break the dress code rule on a specified day such as Friday.  For example, they are allowed to wear clothing such as jeans or apparel outside of school colors.  That may sound innocent, but if the rule was important enough to be created, it should be important enough to be enforced consistently five days a week.  If it is okay to excuse students from the dress code on a game day, as a fund raiser reward, or for any other excuse, why have the rule?  It is counterproductive to the intent and purpose of a rule to permit students or adults to break a rule as a reward.  I am not against rewarding students, but don’t reward them by allowing them to break school rules!  Schools always talk about teaching kids to be good citizens; how can teaching them it is okay to break rules be good citizenship?  We have enough rule breakers in our society without training more.  If it is okay to reward students by letting them break a rule, maybe that rule is not relevant and should be done away with for every day of the week and not just on special occasions.   If eliminating the rule for one day is not a problem, the odds are good it would not be a problem if eliminated completely.

When it comes to school rules, it is fairly simple.  If a school is going to have a rule, it should be enforced consistently across the calendar.  If a teacher signs a contract to work for a school district, the teacher should be up to the task of enforcing the rules of the district or look elsewhere for employment, preferably in another profession.  Enforcing rules is not a fun job for administrators or teachers, but it is a necessary job made more difficult when a rule is used contrary to its intent.  If a school ever finds it okay to allow students to break a rule, it is time the school re-evaluated that rule.  If wearing jeans to school is okay on certain days as a reward, then it is ludicrous to ban them on all other days since it is obvious jeans do not pose a threat to a safe and orderly school environment.

If a school rule can be suspended as a whole or in part as a reward, then the rule has little if any bearing on the orderly function of the school and should be eliminated from the student handbook altogether.  The purpose of a school dress code is not to teach kids that rules are made to be broken or to provide a cash cow for local clothing vendors.  The purpose of the code is to enhance school safety and student learning five days a week.  Giving students permission to break a rule periodically sends the message to adults and students alike that the rule has little to do with safety and learning – at least not every day of the school year.  The bottom line is enforcement of rules must go beyond convenience; teachers and administrators should enforce the rules (dress code or any other rule) or dump the rules!

JL

©Jack Linton, February 12, 2017