Wednesday, November 18, 2015

APS board to ban "sagging". Why?

"Sagging is a manner of wearing trousers or jeans which sag so that the top of the trousers or jeans are significantly below the waist, sometimes revealing much of the underwear." wikilink

Tonight, the school board will approve the Student Dress Procedural Directive, link.  I am assuming it was passed last night during a their policy committee meeting, link; I did not attend.  I am assuming it will pass during the meeting tonight, link.  The procedural directive reads in significant part;

“Prohibited clothing and accessories include, but are not limited to …
  • "Sagging", or the wearing of pants below the waist and/or in a manner that allows underwear or bare skin to show, and "bagging", or the wearing of excessively baggy pants with low hanging crotches.”
This isn't a new policy; sagging has been prohibited on APS campuses for decades.  Enforcement has been a nightmare, link.  If you go to any APS high school, you will see students sagging.  (I will bow as always, to controverting evidence.)

This is not about sagging. 
This is about the permission of prohibited behavior.

The board and senior administration have no intention to enforce the prohibition.  They will do as they have always done; prohibit sagging and then allow and enable it.

This is about telling students they can't do something and then letting them do it anyway, and right under your nose.  This isn't about kids sneaking a smoke behind a building somewhere, it is about a student lighting up and blowing smoke in the faces of adults who told him "smoking is prohibited".

It is in your face defiance.

Who is in charge at these schools; the adults who write the rules or the students who deliberately disobey them?

Students are in charge at any school where kids are permitted to sag.  Students are in charge whenever and wherever they openly disobey rules.

Major stakeholders in any procedural directive requiring enforcement, are teachers.  It is teachers, not administrators and not school board members who bear the brunt of the enforcement burden; instead of teaching!

Had they been asked, they might have advised; without executive and administrative support, enforcement of a dress code is exceedingly difficult, consumes enormous amounts of time and energy, is probably not worth the cost, and not a hill worth dying on in the first place.

All this though the procedural directive reads quite clearly;
Principals shall interpret and enforce the dress code of his/her school. (emphasis added)
The word "interpret" by the way, has its own special meaning for principals.  Every law that gets laid down by the board, comes with a "weasel clause" for administrators use when they want to not enforce a rule.  This particular dress code has it own weasel clauses, but the clearest statement of concept can be found in the Student Behavior Handbook.  It reads in significant part;
Nothing in the following is intended to prevent ... a principal or other administrator from using his/her best judgment with respect to a particular situation. (emphasis added)
A principal or other administrator's "best judgement" is not subject to review.  Whatever the judgement was, however bad, however indefensible, if it was their "best" judgement, it's alright.

The practical effect is that a teacher can bring a student to the office for consequences for their deliberate disobedience of a rule, and the principal can use his or her "best judgement" in providing no consequence.

Why would an an administrator provide no consequence for even deliberate disobedience? 

You aren't allowed to ask that question; "best judgement" is not subject to review. 

If you push it, you end up in a decades long battle battle with an army of lawyers invested in preventing senior administrators and school board members from bearing the consequences of their own deliberate incompetence and corruption.

A lot of people argue mistakenly, that teacher unions protect bad teachers from just consequences.  APS lawyers,
  • underwritten by unlimited access to operational funds 
  • to spend without any real oversight, 
  • on litigation and legal weaselry, 
provide an equivalent service to board members and senior administrators; they keep incompetent and corrupt administrators and board members from feeling just consequences.

Nothing has changed.  After everything that has happened in the last year, nothing has changed.  The board remains oblivious to anyone but themselves.

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