Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Duncanville Incident: Let's Play Dress-Up?

As I've mentioned before, I was born in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, specifically in Lewisville. While I didn't get to live in Lewisville long enough to really see how things would grow, I got to see how the city grew in summer visits to see my Granny, who lives in Lewisville and works as a teacher.
Lewisville went from an extremely small town to a city that's booming at around 90,000 citizens as of 2010. The same can be said for any number of the smaller cities surrounding the DFW metroplex. The Dallas area has always been growing and expanding, and one way that I've observed this was primarily through seeing how larger class schools educated their students.

Obviously, day-to-day operations of these schools is far different than the operations I'm used to in Paris. Compared to Lewisville, we're home to about 26,000 people, which give or take a few thousand, is about a quarter of Lewisville's 90,000. Lewisville, as well as the surrounding cities of Flower Mound and Highland Village, is home to some UIL Division 5A schools, whereas Paris is home to two 3A schools (though this will change, as my school and our rival North Lamar are expected to jump up to 4A again). In any case, I saw a big divide recently with the incident at Duncanville High School, where nearly 200 students were suspended for dress code violations yesterday and 50 more today for staging a sit in (here's a story over this whole ordeal). To sum this up, students are required to wear a certain uniform or face consequences which they claim have not been enforced all year (you can also read the policy in the article).

With this ordeal, I am Velma and Velma is me.

When it comes to this, I have to play for both teams here. I know that uniforms are really unnecessary in a public school setting. In fact, Paris never imposed any uniforms in its dress code unless a student is sent to Alternative Education Placement (AEP). Were there students who went against our rather lenient dress code? Yes. Were they dealt with appropriately? Mostly. Have there been any huge controversies? No.

Do not get me wrong, I'm not anti-establishment on this case. I find the student's reactions to this whole thing to be overblown. I mean, posting a video to Instagram of the incident isn't exactly the mature thing to do, nor is the excessive booing (at least create a clever chant, that's always a good touch if you're going to spread anarchy). And throwing a trash can because we're all angry is also immature and really nasty. But at the same time, if the administration is suddenly enforcing rules it is just now beginning to find important -and at the bitter end of the school year-  then students will rightfully become angry and demand explanation. Suspending them also is too harsh; warnings for first offenses are fine, then detention, then in-school suspension, then suspension with possibility of AEP. I don't even want to talk about how ludicrous school uniforms are; they don't change anything and limit students from forming their identity or using clothing as a means of expression.

Duncanville ISD, if you don't want rioting, then simple: don't give cause to start riots. First off,  do you really think school uniforms will magically cut down on criminal activity or stop hormonal boys from getting the hots for a girl? If you answered yes, then you aren't the pointiest wizard hat in the cupboard. There are reasonable rules that can be enforced: no sagging pants, skirts must be a reasonable length (because we sadly still live in a society where women have to dress a certain way because guys will be "distracted" by it [more on this later]), no paraphernalia or clothing that depict drugs, alcohol, gangs, or offensive language; no excessive piercings, cover get the picture. That's pretty much the dress code I grew up with and I turned out fine. As far as hair requirements for guys, I personally don't think beards or mustaches need to be shaved and if you want to rock out with your luscious locks flowing in the wind, be my guest dude. But saying you can only wear khakis and a white or navy polo Monday through Thursday is ridiculous and it won't stop kids from doing drugs or engaging in sexual activity. It gets them ticked. But if you won't heed my words, then at the utter least enforce your policy all nine months (more or less) of the school year, and don't pull this move again. Also, whoever said "this isn't the ghetto" on the intercom should be fired immediately. That was insulting and cannot be excused in any case.

Now Duncanville High students, perk up: MLK didn't riot. Ghandi didn't riot. Do you know who rioted and destroyed things? The KKK and the Nazis. You have a right to disagree with administration. You have a right to petition and rally support for relaxing the dress code. Heck, you actually did great with the sit-in, which wasn't as riotous as the trash can. But you need to come forward peacefully and be the better people. Yes, the administration is really yanking your chain here, and yes school uniforms are an abomination from God-knows-when-and-God-knows-who. Yet the actions of yesterday cannot be justified. Petitioning is justified. Calling for meetings is justified. Peaceful protests are justified. Throwing trash cans is not justified. Get together and figure a nonviolent, peaceful approach to this ordeal. You are, after all, the future of this country and we wouldn't want to be remembered as trash-can-throwing imbeciles who thought the best way to stick it to the man was by sticking his head in a trash can (see a theme here?).

Tl;dr: everyone at Duncanville needs to chill, students need to calm down, administration needs to stop being jerks, and trashcans should be more secured.


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