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Kindergarten boy still kept out of class in Texas due to long hair


Ohanian Comment: The Mesquite School District, a suburb of Dallas, is in the news again. Usually I ignore stupid things done by individual teachers or schools, preferring to spend my time on universal concerns. That said, this one really gets me. When I began my teaching career--in a high school larger than my hometown--there was a dress code, for teachers as well as students. I remember the department chair saying to a colleague, "I've been told that yesterday you wore culottes, whatever they are, and that this is against dress code."

Teachers were supposed to report students wearing "denim dungarees." The assistant principal actually sent me a note about my failure to report anybody. I was much too overwhelmed with student behavior, curriculum, fights in the subways to be able to think about the fabric makeup of boys' trousers.

We didn't know how easy we had it. In Mesquite the long of forbidden fabrics is very long. "Denim" is there, as are corduroy, knit fabric, suede, and so on. Who checks on this sort of thing? Maybe someone is at this moment manufacturing a full body scanner that screens for all the clothing forbidden in Mesquite.

This statement sits at the top of the Dress Code:
Mesquite ISD: A District of Excellence: Focusing on the Business of School

Decide for yourself. You can see a picture of this little boy at USA Today. You can also read about this tale at AlterNet.

On AlterNet, Tara Lohan offers a strongly opinionated piece and she goes to the trouble of finding out other outrageous characteristics of the Mesquite dress code. Parents would need a check-off list to make sure their kids were leaving the house "in compliance." Everything from shoe color, shoelace color, and underwear color is mandated. Question: Does each Mesquite school have an Assistant Principal in Charge of Dress Code Compliance?

At USA Today, they ask the question, READERS: Do you agree that "students who dress and groom themselves neatly ... are more likely to become constructive members of the society"?

Lots of whackos responded. Generally I avoid reading the "comments" section after education articles--because I hate to be reminded that such people exist. But this question presents a perfect opportunity for some graduate student looking for a dissertation topic: Length of boys' hair in relationship to what we deem as "constructive members" of society: voting record, blood donation, volunteerism, organizing for revolution against capitalism?

Whatever.

Question to consider: What length hair did the following have at age 4?

  • Jesus

  • Muhammad

  • Siddartha Gautama

  • George Washington

  • Abraham Lincoln

  • Mahatma Gandhi

  • Al Capone

  • Bernie Madoff

  • Eli Broad

  • Bill Gates




  • Associated Press, USA Today

    MESQUITE, Texas (AP) — The parents of a 4-year-old boy disciplined for having long hair have rejected a compromise from a Texas school board that agreed to adjust its grooming policy.

    The impasse means pre-kindergartner Taylor Pugh will remain in in-school suspension, sitting alone with a teacher's aide in a library. He has been sequestered from classmates at Floyd Elementary School in Mesquite, a Dallas suburb, since late November.

    After a closed-door meeting Monday, the Mesquite school board decided the boy could wear his hair in tight braids but keep it no longer than his ears. But his parents say the adjustment isn't enough for Taylor, who wears his hair long, covering his earlobes and shirt collar.

    His mother, Elizabeth Taylor, said she'll pull back Taylor's hair in a ponytail, acknowledging the style will keep him suspended.

    "If I braid his hair, his scalp will bleed and his hair will break," Elizabeth Taylor said after the meeting.

    According to the district dress code, boys' hair must be kept out of the eyes and cannot extend below the bottom of earlobes or over the collar of a dress shirt. Fads in hairstyles "designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus is not permitted," the policy states.

    The district is known for standing tough on its dress code. Last year, a seventh-grader was sent home for wearing black skinny pants. His parents chose to home-school him.

    On its website, the district says its code is in place because "students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members of the society in which we live."

    Taylor said her fight is not over. She and her husband are considering taking the district to court or appealing to the State Board of Education.

    "I know that there are a whole set of steps we can take," she said.

    READERS: Do you agree that "students who dress and groom themselves neatly ... are more likely to become constructive members of the society"?


    Kindergarten boy still kept out of class in Texas due to long hair


    MESQUITE, Texas (AP) — The parents of a 4-year-old boy disciplined for having long hair have rejected a compromise from a Texas school board that agreed to adjust its grooming policy.

    The impasse means pre-kindergartner Taylor Pugh will remain in in-school suspension, sitting alone with a teacher's aide in a library. He has been sequestered from classmates at Floyd Elementary School in Mesquite, a Dallas suburb, since late November.

    After a closed-door meeting Monday, the Mesquite school board decided the boy could wear his hair in tight braids but keep it no longer than his ears. But his parents say the adjustment isn't enough for Taylor, who wears his hair long, covering his earlobes and shirt collar.

    His mother, Elizabeth Taylor, said she'll pull back Taylor's hair in a ponytail, acknowledging the style will keep him suspended.

    "If I braid his hair, his scalp will bleed and his hair will break," Elizabeth Taylor said after the meeting.

    According to the district dress code, boys' hair must be kept out of the eyes and cannot extend below the bottom of earlobes or over the collar of a dress shirt. Fads in hairstyles "designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus is not permitted," the policy states.

    The district is known for standing tough on its dress code. Last year, a seventh-grader was sent home for wearing black skinny pants. His parents chose to home-school him.

    On its website, the district says its code is in place because "students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members of the society in which we live."

    Taylor said her fight is not over. She and her husband are considering taking the district to court or appealing to the State Board of Education.

    "I know that there are a whole set of steps we can take," she said.

    READERS: Do you agree that "students who dress and groom themselves neatly ... are more likely to become constructive members of the society"?


    4-Year-Old Boy Suspended From School for Months Because His Hair Is 'Too Long'

    by Tara Lohan

    So what's this really about? Messed up cultural norms.

    First the facts. This kid is 4-years old. Four! He's in pre-kindergarten. His name is Taylor Pugh but he prefers the nickname Tater Tot. Do you not love him already?! All he wants to do is go back to the classroom and be with his friends. But he has been suspended since November because his hair is considered too long by his public school (which is Floyd Elementary School in suburban Dallas). His hair, by the way, barely touches his shoulders. From what I can tell, it's also clean and brushed.

    So what's the problem? Apparently his hair violates school district dress code. Why on earth a 4-year-old has a dress code, I don't know. I would think if you’re dealing with a bunch of kids that young, you’d pretty much just hope they show up with their shoes still on. But on further review, the school district seems to have lots of ridiculous dress restrictions. And there are some that just drive me nuts. For instance, girls can have piercings, boys cannot. Girls can have long hair, boys cannot.

    So what's this really about? Messed up cultural norms that put boys in one box and girls in the other and don't allow any kind of freedom of expression. What do the people of Texas think will go wrong if a boy has long hair? Does it have anything to do with *gasp* gender identity? Will it get in the way of that algebra they're surely teaching 4-year-olds? I'm guessing the only thing that really interferes with education is not letting a kid go to class.

    The whole thing is infuriating. I'm glad Tater Tot's parents haven't caved to the school board's pressure. Actually, his dad is a tattoo artist, so maybe he knows a thing or two about wanting to express yourself with your appearance -- maybe he also knows a bit about uptight folks judging a book by its cover. Here's his dad, who is clearly rad, too:

    "Nobody wants to meet in the middle. It's all or nothing," Pugh said. "He's my son. I love him. I will back him to the end."

    OK, one more reason to love Tater Tot -- according to the AP, "Taylor's parents say he plans to eventually cut his hair and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients." Yeah, sounds like a great reason to suspend a 4-year-old.


    Just for giggles (or screams) here's a few more of this public school's ludicrous rules:

  • Top and bottom clothing items cannot be the same color.

  • Acceptable colors for pants, skirts, short and jumpers are khaki, navy blue or black (solid, single colors)

  • Belts must be worn buckled at all times and must be worn inside the belt loops.

  • Bottom of sweatshirt, sweater or sweater vest may not extend more than 4 inches below the belt.

  • Shoes must be solid color brown, black, gray, navy blue or white.

  • Undershirts must be white, black, gray or same color as top shirt.

  • Shoelaces must be white or match the color of the shoe.

  • Hair is to be clean and well groomed.

  • Unusual coloring or excessive hairstyles that may include "tails", "designs", "puffs", etc. are prohibited.

  • Girls must wear sufficient undergarments. (What does that even mean?!)


  • Not allowed:

  • Zippers, snaps, etc.

  • Leather, suede, vinyl, corduroy, denim and knit materials

  • Suspenders

  • Visible stripes, check or other designs


  • Honestly -- this list is so long it's almost incomprehensible. Check it out. This kind of thing should not be allowed at a public school. These are kids. They are trying to figure out who they are. They should be allowed to wear, god forbid, stripes or shoelaces that don’t match their shoes. And schools should be spending their time teaching kids and not disciplining them for being who they are. I think the school district has a lot it can learn from a 4-year-old. Stay strong, Tater Tot.

    Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet.

    — Associated Press & Tara Lohan
    Associated Press & AlterNet

    2010-01-13

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-01-12-school-dress-code-hair_N.htm

    TX


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