Monday, May 10, 2010

Dress Code de Mayo

If you have browsed the QISA website you know that our work in schools is meant to affect a school's systems and structures. The 8 Conditions are a framework, not a program. The goal is for a school, having learned the framework, to ask questions about and make change to the school's policies, procedures, norms, and customs. Aspirations work has implications for everything a school does--schedule, course offerings, budget, professional development. Does our discipline policy encourage Leadership & Responsibility? Does our Language Arts curriculum inspire Curiosity & Creativity? In one of our schools, their study of Belonging had them reconsider a dress code policy that didn't allow some students to be themselves and still be part of the community. The revised dress code was appropriate and inclusive.

I thought of this school last week when I read the news piece about the students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill California who were sent home on Cinco de Mayo for wearing bandannas and shirts with the American flag. Concerned that this would be an offense to Mexican-Americans given the day and that it would spark fights, the administration gave the students three options: remove the offending articles or turn them inside out, receive suspensions, or go home. The students chose to go home.

Maybe we don't know the whole story. Maybe there is history in this school between the flag-wearing students and those who celebrate Cinco de Mayo. What I do know is that this teaches the students in that school something about Belonging, something about diversity, something about the options for difference-that-may-cause controversy being limited to flight or fight. How does the administration's "solution" to what they saw as a problem on the fifth of May, solve whatever issue they thought was behind it? An issue which presumably was still there on the sixth of May?

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