On the EDge: Teacher, leave them kids alone

OPINION – I really don’t like the “soul patch” look.

You know, that little patch of fuzz some men grow just under their lower lip that looks like a caterpillar searching for a place to nest. A lot of jazz musicians have them. Doc Severinsen, who blew a horn and led the band on the “Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” has one.

I think they are distracting. I think they are unnatural. I think they are inappropriate for a teacher or school administrator who is supposed to be in business attire while working at the school. I find them an expression of a rebellious sort of behavior that is not conducive to the learning experience, which is why I suggest that Hurricane Middle School Principal Roy Hoyt not be allowed back into his school until he shaves his. We can’t have that little thatch of hair distract our kids from learning.

Hoyt is at the center of a controversy that erupted after he backed up assistant principal Jan Goodwin, who recently singled out Rylee MacKay, a ninth-grade student at the school, and sent her home because of the color of her hair.

MacKay, by all accounts, has been a model student and earned her way to the honor roll.

Since September, she has been going to a local hairdresser to have her hair dyed a blend of brown and red. Nothing outlandish, just a blend of brown and red. There was no pink or purple or blue or green or gold. Just a blend of brown and red. Period.

Until recently, there was no problem.

But, suddenly, for some reason, she was singled out, told her hair color did not fall “within the natural spectrum” of hair color, and told she could not return to school until she dyed it another, more acceptable shade. The only alternative was to do her work in a closed room, separated from the other students, until the color faded to an “acceptable” hue.

“Acceptable,” is in the eye of the beholder. It is arbitrary, subjective, inconsistent.

But, how a hair color that has been acceptable for six months suddenly becomes “unacceptable” is beyond me. I know salons and hairdressers are very concerned about the consistency of the colors they blend to put on the hair of their patrons, especially when they find a shade they love. They don’t want to disappoint by changing it a shade in either direction.

But, no matter. Suddenly, what was “acceptable” in September was no longer “acceptable” in February.

I find it incredulous that such a matter would be left up to the discretion of administrators at each school, that there are no clearly defined rules, that there is no uniformity.

I lived near one of the school complexes here where I would see the students bustling off to the middle school and high school each morning.

I saw a rainbow of hair colors. In fact, I saw some students with multi-hued hair that was anything but within the natural spectrum, unless, of course, you consider blue a natural hair color.

I saw young girls walking to school in dresses that were so short they looked like dyed T-shirts. I saw boys with their pants hanging dangerously below their hips. How they didn’t wind up around their ankles I’ll never know.

I have seen long hair, scraggly beards, and sparse moustaches. I’ve seen radically cropped hair on young girls where one side was shaved and the other was sharply angular.

I have also seen the pictures of Rylee MacKay and by no means was her hair inappropriate or distracting. I’ve known a few redheads in my lifetime and, believe me, this young lady’s hair color was well within the “natural spectrum.”

I also saw that the Washington County School District Superintendent dodged questions about the situation, leaving it all up to the school administrators to handle. That is no way to run a school district.

There is nothing wrong with rules, as long as they are clear and enforced uniformly. But, when left to the judgment of teachers and administrators at each school, instead of having well-defined boundaries, there is no chance of fairness.

We have young men and women at a vulnerable age attending these schools. They are pressured to excel in the classroom, they are under extreme peer pressure — good and bad — to perform or behave in certain manners, and no matter how well adjusted they are or how solid their home life, they all come with at least a little baggage that can lead to self-esteem issues.

These are young people trying to stand tall, learn about themselves, and discover their path. While they should understand that there are certain rules and regulations for getting along in this culture, those rules and regulations must be based on a broader perspective and not left in the hands of a school administrator who may have a much narrower world view than his students deserve or is too heavily influenced by a body politic, religion, or culture that does not represent all students.

Our public schools are for all of our children, not just those who come from a certain mold. We want to encourage them to be individuals, not part of a herd. We want them to find themselves, not become a reflection of their friends or even their families. They should be nurtured and encouraged to express a personality that is uniquely theirs. It’s what we call diversity, it’s what we yearn for when we speak of freedom.

Do we really want our young people to all act and think the same?

I hope not, because if we do, we lose all hope of a future of independent thought and direction.

Look, I am not against rules. We need them, but if we are not consistent in the rules that we establish for our young people, or anybody else for that matter, we run the risk of a sort of favoritism that plunges into a prejudice, or worse, for those who lamely follow the status quo, and that does none of us any good.

I am just very happy that I have no children in the school district at this time.

I mean, if they spent as much time teaching the Three R’s as they do on this inconsequential stuff, our kids would graduate much better equipped to face the world.

No bad days!

Related post

What the HAYnes? Hurricane Middle School student kicked out for ‘egregious’ hair color

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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Posted in Columnists, Education, Life, Opinion / Columns / ShowsTagged , , ,

3 Comments

  • Robert Schmidt February 22, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Why do we have someone who is based in Mexico writing opinion articles for St. George?

  • bob whats his name February 22, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Does any one remember when there was a school for blacks and then one for whites i remeber going to school down here i was singled out by an administrator i ended up just giveing up on the education system here the funny thing is that same administrator was fired for having an afair with thw office staff talk about a double standard this is why school vouchers are a good thing if im going to pay taxes aleast let me send my kid to a school i choose

  • Robin Keith February 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Well, our government has taken so many things away from me and my freedoms…getting on a plane, walking into a federal building, wanting my gun, being bankrupt that we will all feeling. . It is the sign of our times. We arrest illegal immigrants’ officers when they are doing the law. So, red and brown hair is just so down the list of important things. Principals are just trying to help. They may be wrong. They may be right. They make judgements in the moment. This is because, in teaching, we are required now to do so many more things than then just teach the curriculum. We have dozens of hoops to jump through. Ed doesn’t know the entire problem, living so far away and not knowing all the facts. Let’s work on something more relevant. Maybe we should backpeddle some things. Getting along would be so nice. We just throw blame around and that helps us not communicate with each other to get to the root of the problem. we don’t ask the right questions, we don’t the answers we are given. So I think we just need to be more responsible for our opinions with better facts and some answers from some real people to back up those facts.

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