The culture of downward aspirations just won a small victory in its ongoing battle with decency and professionalism. In Broward County, Florida, the School Board has decided not to enact a parental dress code.
Board member Rosalind Osgood attracted national attention when she suggested that parents should abide by a school dress code when dropping off or picking up children.
“This is about basic presentation — many parents pick their children up wearing curlers in their hair, sweatpants that fall down, and even pajamas. How can we teach our children to be serious about education if their parents don’t set the right tone?” Osgood asked.
Osgood is concerned that it’s hard to enforce a dress code for students when their parents are setting a bad example near school. “But we have dads showing up in sagging pants,” she said during a School Board meeting. “It's hard for me to tell a child not to show up for school with hair curlers, pajamas or short shorts if they see parents wearing them. Parents need to lead by example.”
Was this a sad, symbolic proposal that would only paper over the underlying rot within the students’ (and by extension their families’) culture? Or was this a modest effort, understood to be limited in influence, to create a small counterbalance against the underlying culture?
By marking off a clear line where the school sets an expectation of maturity and professionalism from students and parents, parental dress codes might have had a modest impact on learning. We’ll never know, because the board has decided not to pursue the parental dress code.
Interestingly, Broward is the same school district where a fifth-grade boy named Giovanni Rubeo was told last week that he is not allowed to read the Bible during his free time. The boy’s teacher, Swornia Thomas, left the following voice message with Giovanni’s father:
Good morning, Mr. Rubeo, Giovanni called you because I asked him to. I noticed that he had a book, a religious book, in the classroom. He’s not permitted to read those books in my classroom. He said if I told him to put it away, you said not to do that. So please give me a call. I need to have some understanding on direction to him about the book he’s reading opposed to the curriculum for public school. Ms. S. Thomas. Thank you. Have a wonderful day. Bye, bye.