Villa Rica High School Dress Code Debate

So here in Villa Rica the local high school has been proposing a new dress code. They want to force kids to wear what amounts to uniforms. Make no mistake that code will be put in place. Its been very clear to bystanders that the formality of discussing things with the public has been just that, a formality. They will pass this dress code no matter what the public thinks. But I am getting ahead of myself. I decided to voice my opinion to the board. Here is the letter I wrote and sent to the board.

Distinguished members of the board,

There is a great deal of controversy with recent events regarding the proposed dress code changes at Villa Rica High School. As a resident of Carroll county and in an area where my daughter would eventually attend VRHS I feel obligated to explain my position in regards to these changes. While I believe a disruptive environment is counterproductive in education, I firmly believe this move towards school uniforms is a move in the wrong direction or at the very least overly Draconian. Make no mistake that is what this is, school uniforms, its just that nobody wants to call it that because they would meet too much resistance. Put simply a uniform dress code, requiring specific items and colors of clothes are school uniforms.

I do not believe that blue jeans are a detriment to education in any way, shape, or form. If a students attire is so able to capture the attention of others then I say the failure is with the lesson plans, curriculum, or people we choose as educators. If we are not picking people who can capture and enliven a young mind more than a set of saggy drawers it's a horrible state of affairs. We should have educators that can capture and engage the mind of even the most ridiculous dressed student and those around them. The way I see this evolving it appears to me that VRHS is so desperate for any increase in its academic standing they are willing to do anything it takes including this attempt to grasp at an unproven statistical straw that will at best alienate its student body and at worst cause an increase in the drop out and truancy rate.

Should there be standards, certainly, but to tell a group of high school age adolescents that they cant be trusted wear blue jeans and still perform well academically is nothing short of ludicrous. To infer (as the Vice Principal of VRHS has) that a set of pants from Dollar General is a step up from a pair of jeans I personally find hilarious.

As for the white shirts, have any of you ever worked in an industry (not behind a desk mind you) where you were required to wear a white shirt? If you have then you know full well whit shirts don't stay white all that long.

To top things off you're telling parents in a county with some of the highest poverty and unemployment levels in Georgia that they need to purchase clothes picked by someone other than themselves.

I find the greatest irony in all of this as it relates to my own 7 year old daughter who is currently enrolled at Ithica Elementary and is an outstanding student. She has one of the highest AR scores in her grade level, she scored extremely high on the CoGat test, and last year missed only 2 questions on the CRCT exams. As you can tell I am quite proud of her. She is currently being retested for the Quest program and we are hoping that she will make it in, but therein lies the irony, you see, the area she is struggling to pass are the Motivation and Leadership portions of the exam. So while my daughter strives to meet the esoteric goals reachable only through the right set of answers on the Quest exams, at the higher grade point level you are stripping the ability of the students to be motivated, to be leaders by example. Instead you would thrust them all into the same mold. My daughter in her blue jeans scores extremely high on academics but she isn't good enough for the Quest program and you are telling high school students that only by being conformist and accepting the will of the school are they going to be capable of learning. In a few years you would tell my daughter to be a conformist and just blend in with the crowd in order to make grades better. Better grades for whom, herself, or for the schools standing? I wonder.

I understand that the school and the board have a noble goal, however, this isn't the way to go about it. The existing dress code is more than sufficient. What the faculty at VRHS needs to focus on is encouraging the desire to better ones self in any way shape or from. By enforcing a more stringent dress code you can no more fix a sloppy or slovenly person than you can fix some of the students in elementary school whom have had lice issues for years on end. You need to change them from within to have any lasting effect, not from without. Just like a person with a dependency problem you cant force a change.

One last note of import, I suggest you rethink this. If you force those of means to buy uniforms for their children I believe they would be best served by removing their students from VRHS and sending them to private school and I shall encourage that move. Why should anyone incur the cost of the second highest expense related to private school and only get the second best education? Oh and be proud about how you vote, I will make sure to remind one and all how you voted when it comes time.

I figured my opinion would be weighed considered etc, I sure didn't expect what happened next. One of the board members replied. Here is that reply, verbatim copy and pasted.

Thank you for your comments on this issue, look at your last paragragh, you said that it would be a burden on parents to buy these clothes but yet you said that you would thell them to take the kids out and put them in private school. private school is anywhere from 1300.00 to 2000.00 a quarter, you must have not took math in school. after the first meeting some of the students went to school to protest the new dress code, well 53 kids wore those blue jeans with holes all in them. they were sent home, thats 53 kids that did not learn anything that day except not to wear jeans with holes all in them. I guess the school could have put them in ISS for that day but they didn't, It is not the schools place to baby sit, The students are there to learn and part of the learning is dressing for sucess. how many of these kids wear those type blue jeans with holes in them to church or to work . I do have around 200 kids from my district that go to the VR high and its feeder elemenary school sandhill.
Mike Huckeba
District 4 Board Member

This is one of the people responsible for shaping the minds in our county. I'll let the quality of the letter speak for itself. Perhaps it was an experiment and he was wearing jeans when he wrote it. My response below.

Why thank you for your candor Mr. Huckeba. You are correct it is my stipulation that in this county that quite a few of residents may have a problem affording this extra outlay. If you had read a little more carefully you would see that in the sentence where I suggested that the parents should put their students into private educational facilities, I said "If you force those of means to buy uniforms for their children I believe they would be best served by removing their students from VRHS and sending them to private school and I shall encourage that move." Those "of means" referring to those who could afford to do so. A subtle difference but a difference just the same.

I am well aware of the punitive action you took against the students who choose to protest. You and I are in agreement that it is not the schools job to baby sit. Of course what your talking about isn't baby sitting, but punishing them for non conformity. Of course according to DEFACS in Georgia a child over the age of 12 can be left alone for up to 12 hours so no need for you to babysit the students in VRHS at all, unless the school day has extended beyond 12 hours so that point is moot. I can't speak for the students actions who wore jeans with holes in them as I didn't see them. Although I find the punitive impact to be far worse than the crime. They provided the school with a mind to educate that day and the school provided them with a closed door locked by the morality some wish to impose and sent them home.

Seriously stop and consider this for a moment. How often do you recall sitting in a class and wasting the entire period ogling a hole in someones jeans? I can honestly say that I don't recall wasting an entire class period on such an endeavor in my academic career however your experience may differ to be sure. Of course you did grant the 53 and the entire student body a subject to discuss all day. Which do you think will get more discussion time, a student with some rips that less than 30% of the student population may come into contact with, or the fact that the news crews came out to talk to students because you sent students home en masse?

The portion we disagree on, and the purpose for my original email, was to express that it is my thought that you need not be forcing students meet your moral standards for dress when they are higher than that of the community at large. By that I mean that Carroll county has a dress code for walking down the street. That code is deemed appropriate enough and should be appropriate enough for your school.

Again this boils down to control, you don't want the students to police themselves. You want to make sure nobody has an excuse of "oh sorry I wast listening teacher Sally's skirt looks like something off Ally McBeal reruns". Better to teach those students to focus, it is obviously a skill they need if they are to succeed in the world, unless you have found a way to remove every distraction from the planet. You can't run around and remove the distractions from life, better to teach them how to deal with such distractions.

Also I thank you not to make disparaging remarks regarding my educational background. Whether I have ever taken math in school is irrelevant to the discussion. The numerous spelling, grammatical, punctuation and capitalization errors your response contained are not relevant (although, I wonder, is this indicative of what I can expect for my educational dollars?). You also wont see me question if you have taken English in school, as that's not relevant. What is relevant, is per your own policy, you have an open door invitation to hear the complaints, comments and suggestions of the parents of students in Carroll county ( https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/ePolicy/policy.aspx?PC=KC&Sch=4027&S=4027&RevNo=1.22&C=K&Z=P ). I provided you with my comments, and that did not warrant an attack by you questioning my education.

Sincerely,

Richard Ahlquist

And his final response;

Right now for every one we get that don't like it, we also get one that does like it.
Mike huckeba

So as you can see from the tone the matter sounds pretty well decided regardless of public opinion.

Comments

During the summer of 2009 I moved into a new county. After buying school clothes for my children, I discovered my county has a dress code. It isn't uniforms exactly, but different from what I had bought my children. In my county jeans are fine, as long as they fit, wear a belt and shirt is tucked in. Shirts are required to have a collar (polo, turtle necks, etc) and no pictures or logos allowed. This dress code is enforced from pre-k to high school.

So after all the time and money I had spent buying 4 new wardrobes, I then had to return the clothes and buy alternatives. Do you know how hard it is to buy (at minimum 5) different polo shirts per child, not to mention my daughter hates wearing "boy shirts".

Now on one hand I can understand that it is easier to put a list of clothes that are allowed instead of deciding on each t-shirt that comes into a school. I don't want my kids to see someone walking down the hall with "MILF" written across a girl's shirt or a girl with a skirt that she can't sit in without breaking the law. I consider myself a conservative when it comes to dressing my children.

But on the other hand, making children wear what a few people find acceptable is not exactly what we want our children to learn. "Do what you are told, don't think for yourselves, anything other than (insert handy item here) is bad/evil/dirty/UNSUCCESSFUL"

School of all places should be encouraging imagination and uniqueness. We don't allow children to copy each others work, plagiarize book reports from the internet, but this one personal choice (yes, picking out what you wear against your skin is personal) they have no control over. "Hmmm let's see...is it red or blue today...?"

This has also had an adverse reaction to our home life. Now my children refuse to wear collared shirts out of the house. It's become something to shy away from, to rebel against. God forbid I want to have a family picture done, my children would all be in their pajamas.

I want my child to feel welcomed and wanted no matter what the situation. Having a dress code implies that some students aren't good enough to come to school or that education isn't our first priority, it's making sure you look the same as everyone else. If my high schooler goes to school with green hair, and that's the worst thing he does at school...then that's a pretty good day. If my first grader lost his belt, but has his books, paper and pencils, I would think they would go ahead and teach him.

I don't live in your county, Richard, and I missed the news reports about this but I appreciate the fact that you stand up for what you believe and you didn't back down. There are some who feel the same way, but for some reason or another, can't or won't say what they feel.