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Dressing the part in school ... and beyond

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COFFEE WITH KEITH

During these times when our local school district has discussed, debated and eventually updated its dress code for students, let’s swing the pendulum and talk a little about teachers.

More specifically, let’s take a look at some of the expectations and how they drastically have changed over time.

But before we do that, let me applaud the Boerne ISD administration and 27-member committee for its undoubtedly tedious work in making our student dress code better.

There certainly is nothing wrong with having language in place that makes sure all rear ends are covered properly, enough other skin is hidden, nothing obscene or offensive is worn and that the general appearance of students reflects well on the district and our community.

Of course, as adults we should set the example. If we have a problem with that, we should look in the mirror before casting any stones.

Boerne ISD brags about its academic success – and rightly so. We’re a Grade A school district.

But one of the many reasons Boerne is such an outstanding school district is because it’s respected. And one of the reasons it’s respected is because of the way we’re seen from the outside looking in, whether it be our faculty, staff or students.

In our society, how we look and act is spotlighted. So, having an appropriate and enforceable dress code in place helps lead to that all-important respect.

Faculty and staff play key roles there, too. How they look and act is equally as important and is an essential part in teaching the ABCs of an education.

Gone are the days when school teachers always had to be glass dolls. But, any good educator will tell you they need to walk the talk.

I have several teachers or retired teachers in my family, including my youngest daughter and all three of my sisters. All of them would wholeheartedly agree it all starts with the adults.

At least things have changed from those “prim and proper” days.

Take this “Rules for Teacher Conduct” published in 1915. …

1. You will not marry during the term of your contract.

2. You are not to keep company with men.

3. You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless attending a school function.

4. You may not loiter downtown in any of the ice cream stores.

5. You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have permission of the board chairman.

6. You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother.

7. You may not smoke cigarettes.

8. You may not dress in bright colors.

9. You may under no circumstances dye your hair.

10. You must wear at least two petticoats.

11. Your dresses may not be any shorter than two inches above your ankle.

12. Also, to keep the schoolroom clean, you must sweep the floor at least once daily, scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water and clean the blackboards at least once a day. You must start a fire at 7 a.m. so the room will be warm by 8 a.m. ... Today, not one of those “rules” truly applies as over time we’ve loosened the collar buttons quite a bit. No marriage? No men? No rides with men? Of course, if the teacher had to be home by 8 each night, what fun with men could she have anyway? (And we’re assuming the directives back them were for female teachers.) I mean she already can’t loiter around ice cream stores or leave the city limits. Wow. No ice cream AND no men? And no wearing bright colors? Hey, we’re the Such and Such Zebras and we wear black and white every day as our school colors to support our mascot. Two petticoats? Imagine having to wear not one, but two underskirts or undergarments. Hey, as long as they covered the rear end! And, gasp, what if the dress or skirt ended 3 inches above the ankle instead of 2? Jail time? Of course, if the teacher was put in a jail supervised by men and wasn’t released by 8 p.m. and it was next door to an ice cream parlor. … Horrors! That’s enough to make a good woman want to relieve the stress by lighting up a cigarette or two. Oops! And what about building a fire at 7 a.m. so the room was warmed by 8 a.m.? What if it was going to be a 90-degree spring or fall day? Fired for no fire? Or back to the jail. … And forced to hang around near the men in charge of it. … And not home by 8. … And the neighboring ice cream parlor. And let’s not forget the sweeping and mopping and cleaning of the blackboards. Too much pressure. Cigarette time. … Or at least a big scoop of ice cream. At least there’s nothing in the rules of conduct about screaming an obscenity or two. … Ah, but backing up a bit, teachers were well-respected members of society back then, and they still should be today. They are key players in the game of life as they educate our youngsters. And, therefore, they should help set the example for our children and grandchildren to follow today. … But two petticoats? Here’s to our local teachers and to quality educators everywhere! As always, thanks for reading.