The Cleveland Teachers Union is strenuously objecting to the implementation of a basic dress code and other changes at 23 failing public schools.
Union leaders hope 1,500 teachers will show up at a Tuesday night school board meeting to protest “corrective action plans” at the nearly two dozen schools targeted for turnarounds, The Plain Dealer reports.
The dress codes are very simple. For example, the new dress code at one of the 23 schools is: “Model respect and appropriate behavior for students, dress professionally (e.g., no jeans or sweat pants except on designated days) and treat students respectfully and positively.”
Michelle Pierre-Farid, the district’s chief academic officer, explained that most teachers won’t have to adjust their wardrobes to meet this new standard.
However, Pierre-Farid said, she and other school district officials have seen some teachers lounging into work wearing jeans, T-shirts and the like on ordinary workdays.
Once, Pierre-Farid remembered, she saw a teacher wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a beer can. On other occasions, she has seen impressively short skirts and feet festooned with flip-flops.
Students already have a dress code, Pierre-Farid noted.
“To say that we will dress professionally as well is not too much to ask for,” she told The Plain Dealer.
Union bosses disagree. They complain that teacher dress codes and other new rules will “deprofessionalize” teachers.
Yes, teachers shouldn’t dress like slobs, union president David Quolke admitted. At the same time, “it isn’t a pervasive problem,” he told The Plain Dealer.
Shari Obrenski, a Cleveland Teachers Union vice president, called the simple dress code “insulting.”
“There are ways to do it with treating adult professionals like adult professionals,” she told the newspaper.
Obrenski also suggested that students don’t need any sort of dress code, either.
“It is not a productive use of my time,” the teacher and union administrator claimed.
Jillian Ahrens, another union vice president, said the transformations of failing schools should be focused on students, not on teachers.
“We believe that corrective action plans should be about academic achievement,” Ahrens told The Plain Dealer.
Teachers union honchos are also complaining about new rules that require teachers to interact occasionally with students’ families, find ways to boost family participation in students’ lives and file lesson plans with school principals prior to teaching the lessons.
All of these new procedures at Cleveland’s worst taxpayer-funded schools are burdensome to teachers, union leaders gripe.
“It’s about compliance, compliance, compliance,” Obrenski, the union vice president, griped.
Pierre-Farid, the district official, said school officials believe union leaders are reacting unreasonably to the changes.
“The things we’re asking of our teachers is no different from what happens in other districts,” she told The Plain Dealer.
“Most of our teachers want to do this,” the administrator added. “Most of our teachers want our kids to improve.”
Kerfuffles involving dress codes for teachers and greatly dismayed teachers union leaders arise fairly regularly across the country.
In August 2013, for example, the Little Rock, Ark. school district announced a dress code that would require teachers to wear underwear. Every single day. Female teachers would have to wear bras, too. And the very worst of all: No spandex. Then, this January, the Arkansas Department of Education voted to assume control over management of the school district. (RELATED: State Takes Over Arkansas School District That Had To Make Teachers Wear Underwear)
In January 2014, the school board in the most populous county in West Virginia attempted to institute a teacher dress code banning strapless dresses, low-cut blouses, blue jeans and spandex. Conspicuous tattoos and facial piercings were also slated to become verboten. (RELATED: West Va. Teachers Union Insists On Constitutional Right To Wear Spandex, Short Skirts)