The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Lincoln Park, MI:
Dressing up school problems in a complicated dress code

Oct 2, 2006

In Lincoln Park, Michigan, a working class suburb of Detroit, the school board passed a new dress code. Many students, as well as their parents, are not happy.

The dress code is a full eight pages long. It contains a long list of banned clothing items. It goes far beyond a typical dress code, to ban just about anything that students normally wear: for example, jeans of any kind, hooded sweatshirts, and t-shirts with printing on them. In other words, most students would have to get a completely new wardrobe – and parents would have to shell out the money for it.

Parents complained at a school board meeting last week that the dress code is far too confusing for students to ever follow it properly and that it is inconsistently enforced.

Over 300 students were sent home or made to change their clothes in the first week of classes. Ever since that first week, students and parents have been protesting. One family of brothers and sisters started coming to school wearing t-shirts containing the text of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. They were consistently sent home. By switching to armbands, they avoided expulsions – so far!

The school board vice president expressed surprise over the opposition; he said the dress code was introduced because “we wanted to eliminate distractions.”

Oh, so that’s the problem in the schools? Distractions? What about the deteriorating conditions of the buildings in this working class suburb? What about the lack of lab facilities or classrooms or textbooks? No, according to the school board, the problem in the schools is the STUDENTS! Their clothing is creating a distraction!

Want to talk about distractions? Then talk about a school district using a dress code to divert attention from its inability or unwillingness to demand money from the corporations so they can provide a decent education.