Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stress, code

Sorry to keep you guys hanging for so long on the dress code issue. The past few days have just been insanely busy. The good kind of busy--hair appointments, musical theater recitals, orchestra concerts, etc.--as opposed to the bad kind of busy--tax audits and doctor appointments, for example--but crazy nonetheless. Annabelle had a show last night in E'town, and then I worked from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Project Graduation. I got up to take Mike to the high school by 7 a.m. to catch a bus to the state track competition, where he took pictures for next year's yearbook. Since then, I've taken Annabelle to E'town for one show, driven up to Louisville to to pick up Mike and to take him to work, and gone back down to E'town to pick up Annabelle. Thank goodness there is only (only! ha!) one more drive to E'town in my day--I leave again in a couple hours to take Annabelle to her last musical theater performance of the year.

So anyway, yeah, the dress code . . . well, the bottom line is that I never expected to get everything I wanted, and in that respect I certainly wasn't disappointed. But let's back up to Tuesday night's public participation meeting before getting into the draft that was presented to the superintendent at Thursday's school board meeting.

I felt a little let down by the attendance at the meeting. Granted, we had less than a week's notice and this is a crazy time of year for most parents, but the superintendent takes the showing as evidence that people really don't mind the current code. I disagree and think that beyond the schedule conflicts, many people here exist in a state of learned helplessness. The Powers That Be WILL wait you out. You WILL move one day. Resistance is futile blah blah blah.

It was no surprise that Option 1 was the clear "winner" in the survey. I could have hugged my friend Theresa when she stood up and pointed out that the strict uniform policy of Option 2 was obviously a "throwaway" designed to make Option 1 look more palatable. (This echoed the sentiment of my friend Tim, who commented on my Facebook page that the survey reminded him of an episode of that famously raunchy cartoon South Park.)

The board member making the presentation said that some surveys were returned with no preference indicated. I stood up and said that I wanted to make sure that everybody understood for at least some of those surveys (mine, for example, and everybody in Annabelle's homeroom class), it would be disingenuous to say that they represented "no preference"--more like a vote against both choices. Furthermore, I pointed out, there would have been more like that except that some of the middle school teachers made their students pick one or the other.

We spent the balance of the meeting going over each item of clothing and making suggestions. On Thursday, the committee presented the superintendent with the following proposed policy, which is basically Option 1 with a couple of adjustments (click to make it bigger):

The new proposed policy adds stripes for shirts (still just polo or collared dress shirts and still tucked in) and does away with the asinine requirement that cargo pockets be sewn shut. The original Option 1 allowed for jeans in colors other than blue, while the proposed policy eliminates jeans of all colors. Much as I would love to see the kids in jeans, I thought it was totally stupid to outlaw blue jeans while allowing other colors, so this change represents an ironic improvement. And of course we still don't have hoodies, and it's still being couched as a safety issue, which makes me want to scream.

Oddly enough though, I can't work up much outrage at this point. Oh, sure, I've had my fantasies about alerting the ACLU to the fact that middle-schoolers were forced to vote for one policy or the other (smells like government-compelled speech to me), but mostly I just feel done. I'm done going to school board meetings--I know that much. I went to every one last year as a member of the board and every one this year as a concerned parent. I think next year I'm going to spend those 2 hours a month taking a nap instead.

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