Friday, November 3

Belt Up

Star photo by Heather Charles

he lead story from yesterday's Indianapolis Star:
Pull 'em up, head of IPS says

Task force being formed to propose rules on appropriate dress

By Andy Gammill
November 2, 2006

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White is calling for strict new rules he hopes will force girls to cover their midriffs and boys to pull up their sagging pants. White has marching orders waiting for a new dress code task force: Spruce up students' appearance. "It's going to be a new look in IPS in 2007," White said. "I think the parents on that task force know what they want to see." His main targets are students who wear inappropriate clothes, such as the pants worn by teen boys that seem to sag lower every year, he said.

Answers to your immediate questions:

• Yes, there is an election coming up in Indiana next Tuesday. Yes, many of us are aware there's a war going on, though increasingly that information is available only to those with an internet connection, a degree of curiosity about the world, and a long-term memory.

• No, our local youth did not suddenly catch up with fifteen-year-old fashion trends; they've been dressing like that just as long as children from Chillicothe to Caspar have.

• Yes, I'm as dumbfounded by the story, the timing, and its placement as you are.

Okay, as a 50-year-old white male, part of the Star's obviously preferred demographic, I guess this is supposed to make me feel a) solidarity with people who are threatened by Negro fashion choices and b) relief that the fine African-American gentleman who runs those inner-city schools is doing something about it.

Sorry, no sale. Take another look at that picture. That was the best they could do. Remember, Roman youths started wearing their togas like that just before the Fall.

[About that demographic thing: about three years ago the Star began adding Regional (read: white suburban) sections to its daily output. The composition was roughly 80% school/high school athletics/feel-good educational stories, 20% town board sewer construction debate tablings. The Star is now gearing up for separate Carmel and Fishers (read: extremely white Upper-Middle to Upper Class Suburban Republican Hellholes to my immediate north) editions. The inner city gets squat. It's the same with teevee sports coverage (less so with educational coverage, since that is mostly reserved for news, like weapons found or students molested or 16-year-old motorists who use roadside trees instead of brake pedals). Starting several years ago the major Indianapolis media suddenly decided that their mission to inform included all but dropping coverage of traditional high school sports competition taking place in the actual city where they published/were licensed in favor of taking helicopter jaunts to wherever white girls were playing seasonally-adjusted softball. It is now virtually impossible to find sports results for Indianapolis city schools unless one happens to be state-ranked or advances in a tournament. This despite the fact that, as Jonah and others have assured us, poor people all own big-screen teevees, so they can watch the news, and most have indoor plumbing with flush toilets, so they also have use for the Star.]

In the interest of unbiased reportage the Star also dedicated four whole column inches to a sidebar noting that "other schools in the area" also report some of the same clothing issues (paging Claude Rains!), but noted in the story that "outlying areas" report that clothing issues are under control. Just like news coverage of locker room sexual assault. That sort of thing goes on the inside of the second section, and when the sheriff says action will be taken in a couple days, we take him at his word and move our attention elsewhere.

And here's another interesting fact I would have learned from a longer sidebar, except I'm married to an IPS teacher so I knew it already: all of these troublesome clothing choices are already in violation of the dress code enacted in 1999. The superintendent didn't need to call a press conference, and he doesn't need to appoint a Task Force (to include "faith-based representatives"--I'm thinking of applying for the Satanist slot) to "solve" the "problem"; all he needs to do is to tell principals to enforce the existing code if they aren't already. Of course, then you don't get your name in the paper, and the white suburban demo which pays nothing in local taxes toward the operation of your district but does control access to how you get portrayed in the media, imagines you're Doing Something and doesn't ask Why It Took 18 Months. And with media assistance they'll never have to wonder why you redrew school boundaries this year in such a way that gang and neighborhood rivalries exploded in several schools and are still being brought under control, because they've never heard about it. Next year, we hope, those fights at least will look much neater.

Finally, I'm through asking for a link to the studies which show running high schools like prisons improves the education process. I'll settle now for any evidence they're even good prisons.


Christopher said...


Man, I thought my paper, The Oregonion, was pretty lame, but they'd never sink this low.

Actually, I work in the mailroom of the company that prints most of the papers in the area, and distruibutes most of the ones it doesn't, and let me tell you, even the tiny papers with a circulation of less then 1,000 don't print stories like that.

Most of them are talking about, you know, the elections.

KathyR said...

And I live in a Major Metropolitan Area with One Newspaper owned by Out-of-Towners Bent On Wrecking It.

So they have the luxury of talking about the elections AND the latest freeway chase, too. No Pants Task Forces have been appointed here as far as I know.

And that young man in the photo is wearing highwaisters compared to the Jared-Before-Subway pants that you see on kids around here.

billy pilgrim said...

Here in Milwaukee, they are looking forward to adding uniformed police officers to patrol the schools.

As you point out, any evidence that converting the schools to prisons with armed guards is necessary, let alone salutory, is not forthcoming.