Friday, September 4, 2015

Choices and Strengths

Your tax dollars at work in the Howard County Schools: Admin who "dress code" young women as they get off the bus in the morning. Admin who stand and stare at dance classes because one student dares to wear a tank top and a bra strap is showing. Admin who stand at the door of the cafeteria ready to "dress code" female students as they come in to lunch.

These are choices.

When school personnel choose to police the clothing of young women with whose well-being they have been entrusted, they are making choices. When a bra strap, or a curve, or an inch of flesh is paramount, something else must fall by the wayside.

You are what you choose.

By choosing to be "enforcers" they are not choosing:

  • Leadership mentoring
  • Healthy respect and boundaries between male and female students
  • Self-esteem
  • Listening and connecting
  • Relationship building

Doug Miller wrote a piece in this week's Columbia Flier/Howard County Times. It's not up online yet, so go and get a paper copy. It's on page 33. In "School dress code enforcers find they are under scrutiny", Miller states:

Enforcement of such policies disproportionately targets girls and transfers to them the responsibility for boys' self-control and the learning that depends on it.

HCPSS has touted its move to a strengths-based learning environment in the past year. They've paid thousands of dollars to Gallup on instruments for measuring and interpreting strengths. Paying highly-trained professionals to police bra straps is not even remotely a good use of their strengths.

And, more importantly, it sends a message which is all about undermining the strengths of the students. Girls are nothing more than offensive bodies. Boys are weak and must be protected from their own feelings. It is preferable to waste a girl's instructional time so that a boy's instructional time is not "endangered".

Rebecca Amani-Dove, quoted in the article, maintains that:

Nobody is interested in being the clothing police.

Perhaps we should station some of these people in Central Office and give them free rein over adult clothing. Daily.

I think Ms. Amani-Dove really believes what she is saying. I imagine that she, herself, would not want to be the clothing police. But what she says is very wrong. We have people in the school system who have made it their job to obsess over the clothing choices of female students. It needs to stop.

While they choose to focus on dress code violations, they are not choosing to do what they have been hired to do: use their own strengths positively to engage students in developing their own strengths.

Are we truly going to be "all about the strengths" in Howard County? If so, we've got some work to do.







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