Probably because of summer, I've been mulling over a number of questions re: dress codes -
Are we afraid? Do we have a dress code simply b/c the adults in charge don't want to have a direct conversation with a student who offends them with their dress?
Are we ignorant? Are we unsure of how to teach self-respect and self-image so we're just trying to avoid the issue?
Are we jealous? Do we want to make them dress according to how we have to dress?
Are we just keeping up appearances, making them dress as to not offend other adults whom we want to not offend?
Is their dress code for them or us?
Like so much in education, I feel we need to make sure the policies and decisions we are making are relevant to our students and are in their best interests, not just educators' best interests. I'm not so sure that traditional dress code approaches passes the test - our efforts to not be offended can have far worse consequences for our students. Reference this recent NY Times article:
Schools' work in the area of dress codes needs some formative assessment, I think. We need to honestly identify what our goals are, analyze and prioritize them with an eye toward healthy students, and then make sure the actions and policies we set are achieving them. Anything else is at best negligence, and at worst, propagating a potentially damaging message.