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School Dress Codes: Fair? Discriminatory? Necessary?

emma.kate/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0) http://bit.ly/2KpyXLk

Where do we draw the line on what kids can wear to school? Education reporter Krista Torralva of the San Antonio Express-News, Vox culture writer Nadra Nittle and Joy Baskin from the Texas Association of School Boards speak on "The Source."

It's a question often brought up in high school speech & debate classes: Do school dress codes help or hurt student learning?

Uniforms and school spirit can be a natural part of the K-12 learning environment. However, these standards can also have real implications for students who are disciplined, reprimanded or singled out for arguably strict regulations on what they can wear to school.

While "no spaghetti straps" and "fingtertip length" measurement for skirts are common specifications for girls in the classroom, dress codes can cover more than just tops and bottoms.

Jewelry, makeup and hair may also be subject to scrutiny. This raises questions about freedom of expression, identity, and what it means to be "appropriate."

Do dress codes reinforce restrictive stereotypes around gender, ethnicity, religion and socioeconomic background?

How do school districts decide on dress codes? In what ways can educators handle infractions and challenges to current standards? 


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

This interview aired on Monday, November 26. 

Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.