Adults behaving badly


What school officials in Florida did to Miranda Larkin makes me despair of some adults.

On her third day at a new school, Miranda Larkin had to go to class in red sweatpants and a hideous, oversized neon yellow T-shirt with “DRESS CODE VIOLATION” emblazoned across the chest and down the leg – an ensemble no high-school kid would voluntarily be caught dead in. Especially not a new one.

The 15-year-old moved to Clay County, Fla., from Seattle just eight days before school started and wasn’t familiar with the public school’s dress code, which says skirts can be no more than three inches above the knee. The black skirt she was wearing hovered closer to 4 inches above her knees.

Larkin was walking down the hallway of Oakleaf High School after first period when a teacher pointed at her from across the hall and said “your skirt is too short,” she told USA Today.

She was sent to the nurse’s office and instructed to put on a “dress code violation outfit” that her mother described as a “shame suit,” ABC reported.

Would it have killed the teacher to have privately told the new student what the dress code was so that she could subsequently comply?

This kind of absurd over-reaction is part of the ‘zero tolerance’ madness where adults think that the best way to treat a problem in schools is to create a rule and then throw the book at whoever breaks it without first checking if there are extenuating circumstances.

What is it that makes some school administrators think that shaming or suspending students or even calling the police for minor violations is a good way to teach children to grow up to be responsible adults?

Yes, looking at things on a case-by-case basis and making judgments can be time consuming. But that is how we model adult behavior to children. Any fool can blindly follow rules.

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    Do all the teachers at that high school spend their time checking out the female student’s legs? Imean, if they instantly spot such a violation they must be getting plenty of practice looking.

  2. says

    @busterggi : My thought exactly… Like the ‘purity ball’ dads complaining about certain girls’ provocative clothing…like…gross.

    I AM curious however as to why school admin positions are statistically so attractive to authoritarian types.

  3. moarscienceplz says

    Three inches above where, exactly? My knees occupy about three inches of my legs. So, is it three inches from the top of the knee, or the center of the patella, or from where? And as busterggi already said, that is some pretty precise observation on the teacher’s part. Does the teacher act as a line umpire for tennis games in his/her/ spare time?

  4. alkaloid says

    @ashleybell, #2

    I AM curious however as to why school admin positions are statistically so attractive to authoritarian types.

    Perhaps because their victims lack equal rights with which to fight back against abuses, and they are more likely to be believed as compared to their victims? This might not be universal so I won’t say that it is, but I often get the impression that a lot of Americans consider their children closer to property as a category as compared to people.

  5. Trebuchet says

    The 1960’s are calling. They want their dress codes back.

    The correct response from the student body would be for the rest of the students to obtain “Dress Code Violation” outfits and wear them every day.

    When I was in junior high, back in the ’60’s, a couple of boys were sent home for having their hair too short. (They’d shaved their heads.)
    A couple of years later, in High School, a couple of girls were sent home for skirts too long. (Granny Dresses.)
    People were silly and paranoid in those days. Just like now.

  6. smrnda says

    Any teacher who could tell that the skirt was an inch too short was engaging in some inappropriate staring.

    If the defense of dress codes is that certain clothes are ‘distracting’ the shame suit is far more distracting than anything else, but I guess that’s the point. Shaming girls for an inch too much leg is more important than education.

    The supposed ‘adults’ running this school are nothing but pea brained thugs and bullies out to piss and shit on anyone who can’t fight back.

  7. mnb0 says

    “Would it have killed the teacher to have privately told the new student what the dress code was so that she could subsequently comply?”
    Disgusting. I’m a teacher at a school with a dress code (in Suriname) and kids always get a warning first.

  8. says

    Three inches above where, exactly? My knees occupy about three inches of my legs.

    3″ above the top of my knee means I’m practically naked.
    Same with “fingertip length”: I have a long back and short legs. My fingertips don’t make it to the end of my butt.
    But yes, another example that the USA have a bigger problem when it comes to seeing children as people than even the rest of the west.

  9. mildlymagnificent says

    Any teacher who could tell that the skirt was an inch too short was engaging in some inappropriate staring.

    Distant bells chiming from 1961 tell me that the only correct way to work out shortness of skirts is the way we did it waaaay back then for our sports uniforms. The distance above the knee is the distance from floor to hem of skirt – when kneeling,

    That’s also the way to determine if a skirt is “knee length”. It touches the floor when the wearer is kneeling (upright, not sitting back on the heels).

  10. says

    the public school’s dress code, which says skirts can be no more than three inches above the knee. The black skirt she was wearing hovered closer to 4 inches above her knees.

    One news site I saw showed the skirt. The photo was taken at a downward angle so the skirt looked close to the knees. But even if it were four inchest above, it was a fairly conservative skirt by any description – dark, opaque, and traditionally fitting (neither tight nor flared). The average person wouldn’t have batted an eye over it.

    This isn’t the only recent case of stupid overreactions to a child’s appearance. A five year old boy was humiliated and sent home over his hair. If the US military can handle ethnic haircuts in combat, why can’t public schools?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2740813/Native-American-boy-5-sent-home-day-kindergarten-having-ponytail-ordered-cut-hair.html

    Native American boy, 5, sent home from first day of kindergarten for having a ponytail

    Malachi Wilson, 5, is a member of the Navajo Nation, who believe hair is sacred and should not be cut

    The kid has long hair for religious reasons, but the school district violated their own policy on it:

    School district officials say they followed procedure, and pointed out the rule in their handbook that says, ‘certain recognized religious or spiritual beliefs may qualify for an exception from provisions of the dress code.’

    Some US schools are dropping inane “zero tolerance” policies, but not enough as of yet.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/09/opinion/dropping-zero-tolerance-in-schools.html

  11. lanir says

    In my personal experience zero tolerance policies by schools teach children to have zero tolerance in return when the school makes a mistake. That’s certainly what it taught me. My highschool made a mistake and tried to pin it on me. I went from a quiet person who never bothered anyone to fighting them every step of the way because they not only wanted me to hold the bag for their incompetence, they wanted to make an example of me. It was the first time I got in any real trouble at that school and the last time I listened to them about anything.

    The only caveat for me is that I was in a religious highschool. So one could argue that my parents had paid extra for the privilege of inflicting this character-building exercise on me. It did teach me not to suffer that sort of foolishness again so I guess I got something useful out of it.

  12. Numenaster says

    Lanir, good job making lemonade out of those lemons. You’ve learned something important much earlier than many of us.

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