14.6.04

SOCIALIZATION. Former Chicago school superintendent Paul Vallas currently holds the equivalent position in Philadelphia. He likes the idea of observing a few of the traditional virtues. There are a few things he'd like to discourage.
Coming to school late. Not wearing the proper uniform. Bringing jewelry and cell phones and electronic gear into the schools. Using foul language, bullying and being disrespectful are all out. All those things. The bottom line is, we're not going to tolerate any of that stuff. But let's be clear, and let's communicate it to the students and parents up front. Let's be very specific about what we want, what we expect and what we don't want and what we don't expect.

He's rediscovered the merits of dressing for success.
Schools have become lax. You say, 'Great, you're wearing the school colors.' But the tops are like four sizes too small and the pants are four sizes too big. Or people are supposed to be in white shirts and black pants, so parents go out and buy their kids T-shirts that are five sizes too big - they go down below the knees. There needs to be more specificity. This is as much public education as it is enforcement. We think we'll get better behavior if we're more specific in what we want. If you raise the bar, children and parents will respond.

And he notes that contemporary fashion statements are, well, crude.
Shirts with collars. Pants worn correctly at the waist. Belts worn with trousers. Clothing that fits - not too tight, too big, too small, too short or too long. We just don't want to see your navel, and we definitely don't want to see your underwear.

Number 2 Pencil, who picked up the story upon returning from vacation, has some additional observations.

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