Why school uniforms are good idea.

From the Washington Post:

Shortly after her daughter arrived at school, Eboni Banks got a phone call. Her sixth-grader was wearing leggings and her shirt apparently wasn’t long enough, in violation of her school’s dress code. Her daughter asked: Could Banks please bring a pair of jeans to school?

Banks rushed to Mattawoman Middle School in Waldorf, Md., where she found her daughter, then 11, sitting in the nurse’s office, rather than class, because of her attire: a black waist-length short-sleeve shirt, pink sweater jacket and a pair of black-and-pink leggings. Under school rules, the outfit crossed the line. Leggings could be a distraction….

School administrators told her that October morning that if girls wear leggings, they must wear shirts that extend at least to their fingertips, an effort to cover up what might draw attention during the school day.

Banks is hopping mad, and has filed a civil right complaint against the school. A federal civil rights complaint:

Banks said her daughter is an honor roll student at her school in Charles County. She loves school and dreams of being a doctor; that she missed 20 minutes of reading class “over a couple inches of fabric,” was outrageous, Banks said.

Twenty minutes of class? That’s a federal case?

“My concern is that it has a negative impact on girls and their self-esteem and how they feel about their bodies,” she said. “They’re going to be pulled out of class and missing instructional time because of this nonsense? It’s just so blatantly discriminatory, and it’s so sexist. It made my blood boil.”

The Post interviewed Mattawoman’s principal, Sonia Jones, who, like Banks, is African-American:

Jones said she has emphasized the dress code in several ways, including at parent meetings and during morning announcements. At back-to-school night every year, she gets a standing ovation when she reviews the dress code, she said.

The leggings rule does not discriminate against minority students or girls, she said.

“Boys have to pull their jeans up over their hips,” she said. “We have expectations for all of the children.”

She said her goal for the school’s students is career and college readiness, which includes helping them recognize that “different occasions in their life call for different attire.”

School dress codes have turned into a national cause for teen-age feminists and their doting mothers (dads seem not to get involved in these clothing controversies). As the Post reported:

Girls at Urbana Middle School in Frederick County, Md., reacted to enforcement of dress code restrictions about spaghetti straps and short shorts in August with a protest, creating bright yellow T-shirts that read, “I am more than a distraction.”

Note that the Urbana girls didn’t wear bright yellow spaghetti-strap tops reading, “I am more than a distraction.” They seemed to get the idea that clothing that might be appropriate for a beach party might undercut their dignity as protesters.

And Jones is right: Different occasions call for different attire—and school is a good place to learn that.

As Post commenter MaryAnn Thews Casey wrote: “We're not allowed to wear leggings at work and you know what? WE FOLLOW THE RULES! Geez, people…”