I'm feeling a little frustrated today. I'm off kilter. I feel like the rules keep changing and I don't know where the line is. I teach in a high school. We have a dress code policy, a tardy policy and an attendance policy, but they aren't enforced and I feel like I keep getting thrown under the proverbial bus.
First example: the dress code. In one single day, I saw one of my students in the hall. She was wearing leggings and a long shirt. This is expressly forbidden in the dress code. I stopped one of our vice principals and pointed the student out to her. She asked me why I was bothering her, why didn't I just take care of it myself?! I tried to explain why the clothes were a violation and why I was pointing them out, but the principal walked away and left me standing there. I was so mad at myself, I should have said, "Because enforcing the rules you make is your job?"
Later that same day, I saw another girl dressed the same way as the first student. I stopped her and her friends and I told her that her clothing was not appropriate. The young man with her said "She looks nice." I replied that I didnt say she didn't look nice, I had said she was inappropriately dressed. Then another girl with her told me that it was a dress and not a shirt. I explained that the dress needed to be at least 3 inches above her knee and the dress code expressly forbids leggings. Then I realized I was arguing with a teenager and I told the students that since I was not actually talking to them or about them, they were free to leave. I then asked the student with the dress code violation to accompany me to the office. She willingly came with me, but when I approached the THREE vice principals standing at the end of the hall WATCHING, one of the male vice principals told the female vice principal that I needed fashion advice.
Not only was that an inappropriate comment, but the administration at this school wrote the
*&*!##%! policy and I was just trying to follow their rules! When I got closer to the THREE administrators, the female vice principal told me that she had felt the girls pants and they were not spandex, they were some other material and that therefore they were pants and not leggings! WHAT!? I am supposed to feel the pants now to tell if they are leggings or not? I threw my hands up and walked away.
Later I asked the vice principals why they didn't discipline a specific student who refuses to remove his hat in the building. I pointed out that not only was it rude, inappropriate behavior, but wearing a hat is also expressly forbidden in the dress code. I was told that this particular student had "anger control" issues and they were afraid he would be dangerous if his hat were removed!!!!!
I couldn't believe it. If this kid is so dangerous that he honestly couldn't be asked to remove his hat in school without injuring someone, is the general population in a public school really the best place for him?
Another dress code issue, This week I've been noticing many of the students at my son's school have stopped wearing their uniforms. I've called the school a few times to ask why some students are being held responsible for following the rules and others are not. For three days I have not gotten an answer.
Why is it that these rules are being made and not enforced? I am so confused and frustrated. I believe it is an epidemic in our society! I have students with 30 absences and they are still expecting me to record passing grades. Their parents and our school administration continually ask me what I've done to help them. Since when is it the teachers' responsibility to make the kids attend school? The tardy bell rings and there are easily 200 students still in the halls. Our administration, when they are on campus, just stands there in the hall and tells the students to hurry up. There are no teeth to the policy. They are not enforced. It is SO frustrating.
Last year I was entering grades and I saw the name of a student on my list that I didn't know. I went to the counseling center and asked them who the student was. They told me that she had been added to my class list 2 weeks earlier. Their rules state that if a student adds a class, they are to get the teacher's signature and return it before the class change happened. Well.....they disregarded that rule and added her anyway. Well, this student opted to skip my class everyday. When I called her mom, we discovered this student had been skipping many classes. The mom called the principal and the principal told the teachers that since we hadn't notified her parents, the TEACHERS had to tutor this girl and catch her up.
WHAT! Why wasn't the student punished for not following the rules? Why was that my responsibility?
I believe we are inadvertently teaching kids to disregard rules. If they are not held responsible for following rules in their homes or classroom, why would they obey other laws? Traffic laws? Weapons violations? Stealing? What about moral laws like no sex outside of marriage, or simple things like saying "Please" and "Thank You"?
Arbitrarily assigning rules we have no ability or intention of enforcing sends mixed messages to kids and adults alike. It is confusing and unsettling.