Teachers at Woodson High School in Fairfax County, Va. have been dressing like disheveled losers this month as part of a campaign to protest for higher wages.
About half the teachers at Woodson are participating, The Washington Post reports.
Instead of, say, crisp oxford shirts coupled with ties or blouses and pressed slacks, the high school teachers are “dressing down” in rumpled T-shirts, blue jeans and the like. There are also tennis shoes galore.
The English department at the school in suburban Washington, D.C. spearheaded the slouchy demonstration.
Fairfax County school district regulations are a bit vague, but they seem to prohibit the slovenly attire.
“Employees shall dress and conduct themselves in a professional manner,” the regulations state.
“We want to help Fairfax understand what makes Fairfax such a great place to live, because it’s not mountain vistas or beachfront access. It’s world-class schools,” teacher Drew Marvin told the Post. “And while the county Board of Supervisors says it’s world-class, our own teachers have to struggle to pay mortgages.”
“The idea was that we’re not going to spend money on professional clothes, we’re going to spend it on groceries,” added another teacher, Katherine Sebunia.
The average teacher salary in Fairfax County is $67,245 per year.
Marvin also said teaching in public schools is a high-stress job during the nine months when school is in session. He noted that many teachers burn out and quit the teaching profession.
The dressed-down teacher also said Fairfax County teachers are upset that teachers in nearby counties make more money. For example, the average teacher salary in Arlington County is $74,903.
“It saps our morale,” Marvin told the Post.
In addition to dressing crappily, Fairfax teachers have also mounted an online petition and taken out ads in local newspapers pushing for higher salaries.
School district superintendent Karen Garza has proposed a budget that includes $41 million in salary increases for teachers.
The school district has cut school budgets substantially and frozen teacher pay in recent years in response to the prolonged economic downturn.
The issue of teachers challenging or being unwilling to meet school district dress codes is a fairly common one in the United States.
Over the summer, teachers Lewis County, W.Va. pitched a fit over the summer because the local board of education voted to prohibit them from wearing blue jeans, faded jeans and shorts to work. (RELATED: Public school teachers go ballistic over teacher dress code)
In January, West Virginia’s Kanawha County school district broached the introduction of a teacher dress code banning conspicuous tattoos, facial piercings, overly revealing clothes and possibly Spandex. (RELATED: West Va. teachers union insists on constitutional right to wear spandex, short skirts)
In September, the Little Rock, Ark. school district announced plans to implement a dress code that will require teachers to wear underwear and bras every single day. (RELATED: Little Rock school district will now make teachers wear underwear)