Nashville’s 75,000 public school students must now adhere to a strict dress code. Collared shirts are mandatory; hoodies and jeans are no longer acceptable. But what about teachers? Nashville parent Rebecca Willocks thinks there’s a double standard. "I saw a teacher’s navel piercing last year and was surprised," she says. "Students can’t get away with that." Nashville’s school board doesn’t think teachers should either. They’ve suggested a teacher dress code, but some, including the union, think it’s excessive. Lisa Soronen, an attorney with the National School Boards Association in Alexandria, Va., says, "Having a dress code for everyone is kind of overkill when a simple conversation with a co-worker and administrator or chair might be appropriate..."
However, Michelle Soto, a 23-year-old 5th grade Nashville teacher with tattoos of a butterfly on her back and tarot cards circling her waist, understands. "The clothes in my closet are school clothes," she says. "The clothes in my dresser are what I wear in my free time. They don’t mix." Other school districts around the country—including, New Jersey, Texas, and California—have proposed teacher dress codes with varying degrees of success.