After receiving several complaints from school administrators and teachers, Tennessee state Representative Antonio Parkinson is thinking about introducing a dress code, and it's not for the students. According to Today, once Antonio heard the "horror stories" about what parents wore to school, he decided to give moms and dads with children in Tennessee public schools some rules centered on decorum.
"People wearing next to nothing. People wearing shirts or tattoos with expletives. People coming onto a school campus and cursing the principal or the teacher out. These things happen regularly," Antonio said. "A principal I talked to told me a lady came into the office with her sleepwear on with some of her body parts hanging out. You got children coming down the hall in a line and they can possibly see this."
Apparently, there are absolutely no exceptions to the rule. "Whether you're there to work, whether you're a teacher, a parent, a vendor, a visitor, a speaker — anyone who steps on a school campus — should be held to a basic minimum expectation of conduct and behavior," he said. "That includes how one dresses."
Interestingly, the parental dress code debate all began with a meme that's making its rounds on social media.
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"That meme led to a conversation with one of my constituents during which I learned about some of her concerns about the way that parents dressed at school," Antonio said. "That opened up a conversation, and I then got on the phone with some of the leaders in my district and learned how big of a problem it really was."
Despite being worried that some lower-income families wouldn't be able to afford appropriate clothes, Tamara Cranford — a mom of two who lives in the Memphis area — has had a change of heart since moving from Florida.
"Things have gotten out of hand," she said. "The men don't pull their pants up. They're wearing shirts with inappropriate lingo on it. Things you don't want a child seeing it . . . It's not about parents having to wear a suit or a dress or having to look corporate and 'work ready.' It's just about civil decency. If you're going to wear jeans and a T-shirt to your child's school, make sure your T-shirt doesn't say anything off-color. Or if does, throw a jacket over it. It only takes a few extra seconds to cover yourself."
But not all parents see it that way. Cecilia Batson, a Tennessee public school alumnae and mom to a 7-year-old daughter, doesn't think the bill is necessary.
"Luckily, my daughter goes to a very good school, but Tennessee ranks so low in education in this country," she said. "Are we really going to get on parents for their clothes? We can't even give our kids a decent education, but we're going to tell parents what they can and can't wear?" she asked, adding that, "If the kid is fed and cared for and loved and taken care of, who cares how their parents dress?"
Although Antonio is well-aware of some of the naysayers, he plans to go ahead with the bill. "This is a good conversation we are having," he explained. "We've opened up a dialogue that may have hit some tender spots for some people, but it also may begin to help."