|Teacher Dress Codes|
|posted by: Alix | August 06, 2012, 09:50 PM|
Dress codes for educators–or lack thereof–vary by district and even school environment. Whether you come to class in jeans or a tie, many teachers this fall might need to reevaluate their wardrobe choices in the new school year. Due to complaints about teachers dressing inappropriately in states across the country, many school districts are pushing for stricter dress codes.
For students, policies are clearly established and leave little room for confusion. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 56% of public schools enforce a dress code for students. However, appropriate apparel for teachers has yet to be defined in many schools and administrators argue that many teachers are abusing the privilege of the traditionally lax policies.
This spring, Litchfield Elementary School District in Arizona piloted a policy designed to prohibit "rubber-sole flip-flops, visible undergarments, any visible cleavage, bare midriffs, clothes that are deemed too tight, too loose or transparent, bare shoulders, short skirts and exercise pants." Administrators in the district also suggested guidelines for natural hair color, limiting piercings, and covering tattoos—all of which can come across as unprofessional.
The Wichita School District in Kansas has banned cutoff shorts, pajama pants and flip flops. Similarly, school officials in Milwaukee recently concluded that dress codes would consider athletic wear and T-shirts unacceptable for the classroom setting.
In most cases, schools are taking action because they believe some teachers are dressing inappropriately and creating distractions that could impact student learning. Arizona Superintendent Julianne Lein stressed that the school board policies were created to curb growing complaints from parents and that she will work with teachers to find a workable standard. "Staff members will first be counseled by their supervisor to brainstorm options in ways to meet the code," Superintendent Lein says. "Further non-compliance will be dealt with through the normal disciplinary channels."
While many of these guidelines seem obvious, teachers are quick to point out that different positions call for different wardrobe choices. Obviously, a physical education teacher working with third graders might need to dress differently than the high school Spanish teacher. Sarah, a veteran kindergarten teacher told one fashion blog, "My concerns are practical: things need to be washable and comfortable. I can have a little fun with jewelry or, yes, the infamous holiday sweater. But my highest priority is wash-and-wear — and comfortable shoes."
Still, while most teachers just need to use a little common sense, the need for such policies is discouraging to professional educators who wouldn't dream of wearing pajamas to school. While the AAE Code of Ethics for Educators doesn't specifically mention appropriate dress, it does mention maintaining the "social prudence" necessary to perform job duties. Further, "The professional educator complies with written local school policies and applicable laws and regulations." As a professional educator, it is critical to present yourself well, limit distractions for students, and follow all dress code policies.
What do you think about teacher dress codes? What is the "uniform" of choice at your school?