Dress Code

Every school in the religious world has some kind of dress code or uniform. Some allow cargo pants, some don’t. In some the shoes have to be dark dress shoes, some allow sneakers. Each has their own code.

As a parent I do my best to ensure that my sons are dressed according to the dress code of the school. I don’t buy them school clothes that veer off the guidelines – even just a tiny bit. I try to teach them about respecting the rules in every environment that they find themselves, whether or not they agree with the rules.

I recently overheard a discussion between two grade school boys complaining that one of them had been told to colour over his white sneakers with a black marker by his teacher. “I paid $90 for these sneakers – there is no way I am colouring over them”, said the incensed pre-teen. The other kid commented “why do you wear them then, to school, if you know it’s against the rules?”

The dress code specifically states that the pupils should only wear dark shoes or sneakers. Whether you agree or not that this is a good idea, you have chosen to send your child to this school, and therefore you should abide by the rules. What message does it give your child when you allow them to think it’s ok to bend rules occasionally? Does allowing him to wear white sneakers give him the message that all school rules are made to be broken? Or is a shoe just a shoe and should nothing be made of his choice of footwear?

What are your thoughts?

14 responses to “Dress Code

  1. I know it can be hard when the school has rules such no sneakers and every kid wears black sneakers to school and the teachers are ok with it but then my son wore black converse and he was told no. My son was so frustrated becasue he didn’t like the styld of the other sneakers and didn’t understand why theirs were ok but his werent. I guess what im getting at is when the schools pick and chooses what rules to enforce whe I comes to dress code, this is very hard with teens and their desire to fit in.

  2. My two cents mean nothing. I work for an inner city public school in Los Angeles. We are lucky to be a 3 year old campus and decided that when we opened we would have a dress code (modified uniform). There were multiple reasons that both parents and teachers felt were justified: gangs in the area, less distraction, school pride. It’s hard for teens to understand our adult reasoning. The kids fought and fought us on the dress code for 2 years. It didn’t matter that their parents also voted on it. Parents were obviously not enforcing it, or unable. Unable because this demographic is of many single parent families, parents who work late nights and may not be around where their child goes off to school, amongst who knows how many other possible circumstances.

    SO…to answer your question. Parents should support the rules and teach their children the same. Truth be told, and I shared this with my students, I didn’t agree with the uniform at first. I believe in free expression and I believe that we can teach young people to carry them selves respectfully while maintaining their own styles. However, I choose to work where I do which means I choose to follow the rules and this is what you are trying to teach your kids and it’s what I agree is the right thing to do.

    If my child was told to “color” his shoes without contacting me first I’d be LIVID. I’d be insisting on meeting with the people in charge. Even if the kid wore the wrong thing, it’s not the kid who spent $100 on the shoes, it’s the parents. And, I know this is a shock, but sometimes parents DO the right thing and kids STILL do what they want. I know, amazing right? 🙂

  3. I think the difference from the Yeshivaday schools and public or other private schools is they are trying to instill a dress code for life. Not just at school. For example my son is not allowed to wear t shirts and jeans , period, not even on a Sunday. As my son is getting older he slowly working his way into the black and white “uniform”. I know this isn’t modern in my thinking but this is what our expectation is for our son. I’m also not agreeing with the school by asking a child to color his shoes I thinking that is crossing a line and parents should have been contacted instead. But on another note I could understand how a kid could be confused if a parent says one thing and the school another, the kids don’t know what to wear , and when

  4. lady lock and load

    It could be that the parent had no idea that the child wore white sneakers to school…perhaps the kid hid them in his knapsack and changed into them in school? Maybe the mom runs off to work early in the morning and has no idea he is wearing these sneakers? Maybe the mom did not agree and the kid wore them anyway? I think in this case there could be alot of things going on and good to be dan lecaf zechus.
    Also, it sounds to me that there is more of an issue with this kid that he does not want to follow school rules and instead of coloring the sneakers the school should look into his neshama and speak with him one on one and understand what is going on beneath the white sneakers.

  5. parent should enforce the school rules provided they are fair and just, and limited to conduct when AT SCHOOL.
    If the rule extends to what the kid does at home than the school has no business cutting into the parent’s territory.

  6. Sheva –

    I wonder what ‘black & white uniform’ you refer to – is your son preparing to be a police officer or a tuxedoed bandleader?

    Nowhere in any jewish scriptures/writings is a uniform mentioned, beyond tsitsit and covering one’s head.

    The very idea that jews should wear a ‘uniform’ is quite horrifying and disgusting to those of us who aren’t members of your particular branch of observance. School dress codes aside, a black jacket does not make one a Jew, and when groups that insist upon the idea of that finally get it out of their heads, our religion will start to grow and prosper, not fragment like it has in the past century.

  7. Tuxedoed band leader of course, what did you think I was talking about?

  8. You know I am often baffled by the rude behavior on Jewish blogs, I’m sure this behavior is universal but as a fellow yid it hurts a bit more. I rarely comment or express myself on other blogs because of the fear of being cyber yelled at. See comment above….
    I wonder why it is not ok for us to all have different feelings and opinions, and why we can’t all attempt to learn and take from each other, instead of accusing and yelling.
    So I feel it’s important for men to follow a standard of tznius and wear a so
    called uniform. I wear my uniform on a daily basis it consists of a sheitel, skirt and long sleeves, and if your family chooses to wear something else that’s great too. If you felt strongly that your entire family should only wear shirts with unicorns and rainbows on them I would be one of your strongest supporter, as your fellow yid.
    Please allow me the same respect and let’s try ,instead learn a little from
    each other.
    Because nobody likes a hater, my friend

  9. “If you felt strongly that your entire family should only wear shirts with unicorns and rainbows on them I would be one of your strongest supporter, as your fellow yid”

    Sheva, perhaps you more productive to apply a little constructive criticism, if he presented it as part of his view of Judaism? Why should you support that?

    Especially if it was a view that was gaining credence in the community, and adherents of the unicorn and rainbow were most certainly NOT adopting a you-d0-yours-I’ll-do-mine attitude, but instead kicking children out of schools, camps, and even their own home, calling them names, socially ostracizing them and threatening them with never being able to find a decent shidduch (as often happens in the frum community?)

    Is it some of the wording of his post that you find “hate”ful – the initial sarcasm, perhaps, or the word “disgusting”? or the very act of criticism itself?

  10. I think Rob has a point in underlining that there is no “jewish uniform”, except for tzitzit and head covering for men (& tzniut for women).

    Sheva, why do you classify his reaction as hateful?

    Does your tolerance also extend to your own children in case they come to the same conclusion as Rob and shed the black and white uniform you try to impose on them?

  11. This is the last time I’m posting on this subject……
    If my son did not want to wear black and white then I would show him Love respect and tolerance and let him express himself in the way he feels fit. He is my son and my love for my children go above and beyond clothing. My husband wears blk and white and this is the kind of household we are, we hold that a man has tznius guidelines also and wears modest clothing. We expect from our boys when they become Bar Mitzvah the same as we expect knee socks and skirts when our daughter turns three. If the children fight and do not want then we make compromises . Parenting is not a one stop shop.
    If we wanted to we could argue here for hours over the ” Jewish uniform” you could bring down sources explaining your side and I could site many explaining mine. But why waste our time we will never agree.
    My point is that this is the uniform for our family this is what works for us, we have our reasons and have made decisions as parents, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t respect others and their choices. That was my point with the unicorn statement, but obviously I messed that one up.
    I feel very shunned here because our lifestyle choice is not ok with you guys because we decided black and white is for our family ,and only speaking for us no body else, this is our Jewish uniform, your Jewish uniform may be something else, and that is awesome, too
    Because my friends that is called Ahavas Yisroel

  12. lady lock and load

    Sheva, I think what happens sometimes is that some Orthodox Jews look at what other Jews are wearing and make them feel uncomfortable. I will never forget the time when my sister was wearing pants in a store and met a very Orthodox girl from her class in Hebrew Day school. The girl stared at my sister’s pants and to cover herself commented on how nice her belt was. I have seen this kind of thing many a time, and Jews who do not dress in Orthodox “uniform” are made to feel lower than dirt.
    In your case, Sheva, you had no intention of looking down on others. You were simply explaining your way of life and what your family dress code standard is. You did not proclaim that this should be the attire of a Jew.
    I’m sure you believe that after 120 years, G-d is not going to ask what we wore on a daily basis. May you have yiddishe nachas from your family.

  13. Oh, goodness. Maybe private school just shouldn’t have such silly dress code rules!

    (Spoken like a public school kid, I know…)

  14. They shouldn’t have silly dress code rules; they should have thoughtful ones. I went to public school and I secretly wished we had uniforms because I knew I wasn’t fashion forward. Also, it would have taken a lot less time to decide what to wear in the morning (and I don’t mean that in a snarky way).

    The only dress code at my school that I remember is that you couldn’t wear anything gang related and, according to the administration, that included wearing black. I roll my eyes at that now like I did then.

    There is very strong evidence that dress codes lead to a better school environment.

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