Should IT Matter How Your Child's Teacher Dresses?

Dress codes have long been a staple in many schools across the country. In some cases, students and even parents have opposed them. But what about dress codes for teachers? When it comes to this issue, just where do most people stand? And should a teacher's clothing even be of concern to parents?

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teacher dress code appropriate clothing for teachers

Setting an Example

In February 2012, USA Today reported that the Peoria Unified School District in Arizona is seeking to enact a teacher dress code. Which makes one wonder: should teachers be forced to follow a strict code while students in so many schools wear whatever they please, such as low-slung jeans and t-shirts displaying inappropriate pictures and words?

In a word: yes. Not that inappropriate clothing for students shouldn't be discouraged and even punished, but understandably, teachers in cut-off jeans, flip-flops, sweatpants or low-cut blouses have begun to alarm school officials.

So while student dress codes might be important, dressing appropriately needs to start with those at the head of the class.

Casual and Comfortable

What should be acceptable when it comes to teachers?

In many cases, it is agreed that it depends on what type of teaching is being done. For instance, jeans for shop teachers and sweatpants for gym teachers are understandable, as is more casual clothing for kindergarten and first-grade teachers who are more likely to get down on the floor with students.

In fact, the 'casual and comfortable' rule of thumb is a good one to follow for many school districts. Without, of course, too much of an emphasis on 'casual'. What one superintendent in Pennsylvania said in the Tribune-Review in September 2011 could likely apply to many districts: 'Things were starting to get a little too casual.'

In that district, the article stated, visitors could hardly distinguish between students and teachers!

Do Clothes Make the Man...?

One perhaps worthwhile argument against teacher dress codes is that a good teacher can be effective no matter what they're wearing. And this might be true. But if the clothes a teacher is wearing become a distraction, hasn't this teacher essentially lost his or her effectiveness?

Dressing professionally will go a long way toward earning respect, and students might be more apt to learn from a teacher for whom they have respect than from one they don't. Teachers need to be an example and exude some amount of authority. Dressing as 'one of the kids' likely diminishes some of this authority, which could certainly have negative implications down the road.

Few would go as far as to say that a business suit needs to be worn. But are tasteful and professional clothes too much to ask of an individual who is, like it or not, likely to leave a lasting impression on our kids? Will a lack of professionalism in the way teachers dress today leave students lacking later on in life?

If so, this should be a cause of concern for parents. So yes, moms and dads should care what their child's teacher is wearing. However indirectly, it likely does matter.

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