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LOS ANGELES -- Teachers are expected to bear long days, challenging students and demanding parents. Now, apparently, some teachers are baring too much of themselves. School boards and superintendents increasingly are pursuing dress codes for teachers. At issue is the same kind of questionable attire most often associated with students.
Last year we were told that we no longer were going to have "casual Fridays" - no blue jeans. At first I was disappointed, but later, totally understood. The school I work at has a discipline problem to start with and there needs to be a much greater respect for staff.
Add to this - I work in an inner city high school and we have a number of young female teachers. I work with a great teacher, but she is young and cute. It really wouldn't matter how she dressed - she'd still be young and cute. We work in a classroom with high school students with autism - they may be low to mid-functioning, but their hormones are working very well. If this teacher dressed the way that many students dressed - I won't get graphic, but you can figure it out.
In a world where a lot of adults are refusing to grow up, it makes it harder to enforce discipline for those adults who are responsible in the schools. In a world where many children are growing up in homes where it is hard to respect the adults in those homes, it is essential that the adults in schools be visually respectable.
I notice a difference in myself. On days where we're going to a job site where "dressing down" is the appropriate dress code, that's the way I dress. On those days, I find myself being more of a "buddy" to students. When I dress more professionally, I act like it.
I don' t think that we need a dress code that mandates knee length skirts for women and ties for men, but I don't think the schools are out of line to expect teachers to dress like teachers.