Robert Winner


This conversation is closed.

School dress codes

After the arrest of Jared Marcum in W. Virginia for wearing a T-shirt that stated "NRA protect your right", I begin looking at dress codes. For that school it was, "dress code prohibits clothing that has violence, profanity, alcohol, drugs or tobacco, along with any sexually suggestive or discriminatory messages." He wore the t-shirt most of the day until a teacher was offended and he was told by that teacher to take it off. He refused and was arrested for disrupting the educational process and suspended.

The question is: Did the 14 year old disrupt the educational process? Could this have been handled differently? Did the teacher enforce the dress code or express a personal opinion on the issue of gun control?

  • thumb
    Jun 20 2013: Two things must be told and made to understand to educationist, parents and children .

    1 The importance of a dress code .

    2 Dress code is not stopping or taking away your right to express yourself. There are so many better and acceptable ways to convey your view point.
  • thumb
    Jun 18 2013: You Americans need to use uniforms. A kid with no uniform doesn't go to school.
    • thumb
      Jun 19 2013: Perhaps you are right Ken. However, acording to the rules he did nothing wrong.


  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jun 19 2013: I was going to make the same comment. Schools may enforce whatever dress code they like. My son goes to a school where boys are supposed to wear navy-colored pants, white or light-blue shirt, black or navy socks, and shoes of a single color. No symbols are allowed on any item - not even a brand name logo on the shoes. Parents comply for multiple reasons. Equality is one. Kids from well-to-do and from low-income families look no different. Clothes, brand names, worn in specific ways often serve as gang and clique symbols. When I was in the Soviet military, there was hazing based on how long a soldier had served. There were subtle signs by which the term of service was determined, even in a uniformed environment - the way the buckle is bent, the shape and color of the hat, the way the uniform is pressed, etc. All these differences are used to polarize the group and ostracize people.

      The student may have violated the dress code - we don't know. We need to see the code. The teacher may have been an NRA member or anti-gun activist - we don't know. What I find disturbing in the whole situation is that so many people are reading too much into the matter and making judgments without knowing the details or the context. We have to thank our media for that. It's fun to pit people against each other. It can be very profitable too. Headlines about shootings and violence tend to chain people to their boxes and justify the existence of lawyers and politicians.

      The case seems to be badly mishandled. A clash of egos, as usual. Much like the Sheldrake controversy here on TED. Instead of calling the police, explaining the reasons behind the policies and talking to the parents might have done the job.
  • thumb
    Jul 6 2013: Obviously, the teacher extrapolated the rule to fit his own personal opinion. Given that the kid was 14, he probably did disrupt the educational process. I would have. Loudly.
  • Jun 19 2013: I actually find this quite offensive. Much like the "black trenchcoat" issue after Columbine, this just does not make sense.

    A student, wearing a t-shirt, not disrupting the educational process, is arrested for "disrupting" the educational process by wearing the shirt. Circular, and false, logic. The shirt has no issue in this, as far as I know as I have not seen the shirt.

    Kids, quite frankly, wear far more offensive clothing daily and are not suspended or removed from school. Yet, when it is a "quasi-political" message that is not popular, would the student have been removed. I wonder if this "policy" would have been played out equally across all political messages. Probably not.

    At best, the student should have been recognized as stating a belief. At worst, the student should have been talked to about the appropriateness of the shirt. Not suspended or arrested. The school will lose any legal issue with this. Where has out common sense gone?
  • thumb
    Jun 19 2013: well, ideally he would ask to speak to the principal, and if the principal still says take it off, I think he should have taken it off just to be diplomatic, and then, if he wants to fight it, he can go through official channels.
  • thumb
    Jun 19 2013: I'n my opinion it's just a shirt, and if the teacher can't handle someone wanting to preserve the rights outlined in our constitution, then she shouldnt be a teacher. I'd sue EVERYONE involved for infringing on his civil liberties. Maybe if the teacher could read the messege on the shirt in the first place, she'd not get sued for being a moron.

    That being said if he was in CLEAR violation of the law or school's rules then he deserved being arrested for disrupting the indoctrination process. We can't have our children expressing ideas, and thoughts, or beliefs, it may offend someone, somewhere, sometime.....
  • thumb
    Jun 19 2013: I would like to think that any reference to a particular political ideology shouldn't be allowed. A government school should be secular and apolitical. That's one of the many reasons we have uniforms in Australia.
  • Jun 18 2013: If your quotes are correct, the student did not violate the dress code.

    It might have been more prudent to take the shirt off under protest and later take up the matter with the principal.

    It was the teacher who disrupted the educational process, not the student.

    I do not think students have complete freedom of speech in school, but policies must be applied to all equally.
    • thumb
      Jun 19 2013: Barry, As usual the press (and a lawyer) had it before cooler heads could prevail. LaMar above states it could be considered a terroristic threat .... I think it probally disagreed with a teachers political stand on gun control as he had attended all day with no issues.

      LaMar did correctly state that resolution came the next day. It would be interesting to know, since the kid and the shirt came back the next day, if the suspension went and stayed on his records and if the teacher was spoken to. I am guessing that the teacher called the police and had him arrested, which will stay on his record, perhaps wityhout consulting with higher authority.

      Wonder what would have happened if this had not went national on the news? But those were not the questions I asked in my explaination.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.