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Denim Debate


Disparate teacher dress codes within Jefferson Parish, La., have some public school teachers in an uproar, according to the Times-Picayune. While a number of principals allow teachers to wear jeans and capris to school, others forbid denim and require pants that cover the ankle.

Meladie Munch, secretary treasurer of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers, opposes the inconsistency. "We're one school system, and all employees need to be treated the same."

The current district code states only that clothes should be "neat, laundered, properly fitting, and appropriate to the job," leaving principals to determine their own specific rules. "At one school, there was a policy where your shoes had to match your outfit," Munch said. "Fortunately, we were able to work through that."

In many cases, principals became more lenient after Hurricane Katrina, which forced many teachers to replace destroyed wardrobes. "Everybody just seemed to get more relaxed in their dress," says Munch. Many, but not all, schools have maintained liberal guidelines for apparel.

The union contends that denim should be permissible at all schools as long as it is "neat, clean, and appropriate." After hearing the union’s concerns at a recent meeting, school board members directed the Jefferson Parish regional superintendents to draw up a more detailed clothing policy.


WHAT! We should all be treated the same? Doesn't this fly in the face of just about the entire 20th Century?

Dress codes need to be flexable depending on the school and the teacher. We have dress down/spirit fridays where denim is allowed and school spirit shirts ( usually t-shirts).
As an older teacher I have noticed that a pair of pants and shirt on a 40+ teacher can look neat and appropriate where on a new, young, right out of school teacher may have to dress a little more professional not to be mistaken for one of the students by them ( their attitudes) or the rest of the staff. This is in a high school setting and is true for both young male and female teachers.
Also dress is affected by the size of the teacher. When many of the schools in our district went to uniforms that included shirts that were tucked in, that look was very wrong for a lot of our larger, middle age techers.
Teachers need to be able to find the balance between what is comfortable to work in all day and what sets them apart as staff not students at the school. a policy that is too strict will not address the may differences in the staff at the school.


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