Bad Hair Days by childgrower A. Woz

Have you read about the Mesquite School District school board decision? As reported in the Dallas news Taylor Pugh, a four-year old pre-kindergarten boy has been told to braid and pin up his long hair or he will continue to be separated from his classmates for not following the school dress code. The dress code prohibits long haired boys from disrupting classrooms.

Taylor, in pre-school, has been hanging out in the library with an aide since November and will continue to remain there until his parents cut his hair or the board changes the 40 year old dress code policy.

According to the district dress code, all boys’ hair must be kept out of the eyes and cannot extend below the bottom of earlobes or over the collar of a dress shirt.  “Fads in hairstyles designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus is not permitted,” the policy states. http://www.mesquiteisd.org/students/policies/dresscode.asp

It seems like a stretch to declare that a ponytail or long hair is an inappropriate fad for men when our founding fathers wore powdered wigs and pony tails.  Wigs aside, after an appeals process, a compromise offered by the school board allows Taylor to return to school in braids.  This compromise seems absurd and contradictory to it’s own policy.

Worse, the parents plan to bring him to school, hair in a ponytail, even after the ruling. They declare he doesn’t want to cut his hair or they would. Remember, Taylor is four.  A hair cut might make him cry but he’ll adjust. Kids are resilient. The parents may take the longest to adjust. How much longer will they hide their child in the library while their egos heal?

It’s not the dress code or the definition of a fad in the dress code, no,  it’s not even the underlying gender bias or even the poorly written policy that bothers me so much as a child put in the middle while the school board and the parents duke it out in meetings and a media circus.

  • His parents have not accepted the dress code and elevate the value of hair length to be above education and socialization for their son.
  • The school board upon appeal adjusts the dress code and ignores their own policy- Why have one!
  • The 4-year old has been separated from his peers and his optimal leaning environment for almost three months.
  • The inconsistency of the decisions made by the adults in Taylor’s life  send some serious mixed messages.

Come to think of it, he might be learning a whole lot about how the world really works!

My point is, neither the school board or the parent put the kid’s education ahead of the control issue. The adults are squabbling for control over hair.

Meanwhile education remains under-funded, learning environments are less safe and more chaotic and yet parents and federal standards expect kids to be taught and teachers to be teaching.

What students learn from parents and educators in this situation and similar battles between school boards and communities playing out across the classrooms of America, remains to be measured.  Our future leaders are the products of this system, our social norms and culture defined by each graduating generation.

Policy, parents, appeals aside, those trusted to educate our children will get right on that important job of teaching reading, writing and the basics- just as soon as they deal with all the extraneous responsibilities of schools today like cutting budgets,  massaging parents and policy holder’s egos, and those darn bad hair days.

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3 Responses

  1. I read that story, too. I was amazed. There are plenty of instances that a parent should take up for a kid, but that one? I don’t think so. Isn’t Dad a tattoo artist? Wonder what the school policy is on tattoos on 4-year-olds?

  2. why dont you just give the kids and his parents my card. problem solved!!

  3. If this were the only problem with the Mesquite ISD we here in Mesquite could sleep soundly. But Mesquite ISD has a history of brow beating parents and students over silly things such as hair length, skinny pants and shoe color. Meanwhile, Mesquite ISD has TAKS scores in the 50″s and employees that are stealing the kids money with seemingly no retribution. Perhaps, the whole dress code fiasco is Mesquite ISD way of getting parents to take their eye of the ball so we dont notice all the problems here in Mesquite. Some of us have noticed and started this blog:

    http://mesquiteschools.wordpress.com/about-2/

    It is embarrasing to know that in Mesquite ISD we are suspending minority students at a rate almost twice as high as white students. That Mesquite ISD doesn’t start criminal probes of theft by Mesquite ISD employees until the Dallas Morning News starts an investigation into Mesquite ISD. It’s embarrasing that Mesquite ISD Board Members resign because of “objectionable” material on their school issued computers while ONLY minorities are expelled from Mesquite ISD schools. Taylor Pugh and his long hair isn’t even a real issue for real educators.

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