School Dress Codes

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School Dress Codes

Postby bfenster » Thu May 14, 2009 11:29 am

The first Congress topic for the year. Typically this is a local issue but in the interest of giving new members a topic they can talk about without research at the first meeting, we chose this one. The bill will undoubtedly provide an incentive (or one of those awesome highway funding threats) to promote dress codes in public schools. A brief and bill will be posted before the end of the school year.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby EWang » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:55 am

Mandatory Dress Code Brief

Introduction
Mandatory dress codes for school is a hotly contested and highly controversial subject for students, parents, and educators all across the United States. Although different aspects of the mandatory dress code may vary from country to country and school to school, the gist of the idea is that students are given a set of dressing guidelines that they have to follow. These guidelines range anywhere from requiring specific school uniforms to banning certain attire considered to be inappropriate. From a Congressional standpoint, drawing up a national school dress code might have significant benefits. While other debate topics may not have a direct effect on the lives of individual students, there is no doubt that mandatory dress codes has, for better or worst, considerable implications.

Pros
Some typical arguments in favour of strict mandatory dress codes are that that they make schools safer, build unity among the student body, and create a better learning environment. First of all, supporters of strict dress codes argue that they help protect the students. Theoretically, if all the students in a school are dressed the same or in a close fashion, an intruder to the school would be easier to spot. Also, restrictions against extremely baggy or excessive clothing could deter students from bring weapons to school. Another pro argument is that dress codes, especially ones requiring school uniforms, help build more unity among the student body. Students may form cliques with those who wear the same type of clothing and students of lower economic status or with abnormal clothing patterns may be unfairly judged. Strict dress codes or school uniforms would in theory thwart these practices and help students concentrate in school, which fits in with the last argument, that dress codes help create a better learning environment. When students are not preoccupied by inappropriate and/or distractive clothing, they would be more inclined to learn.

Cons
Some typical arguments against mandatory dress codes are that they limit self expression, curb individuality, and may be unconstitutional. The first argument is that dress codes limit students’ self-expression. In a world where children do not have much personal freedom, clothing is one of the only areas in which children can display their personality and interests. Another complaint is that strict dress codes, especially ones entailing uniforms, create too much conformity among the student body. Because students are ever growing as unique individuals, curbing their expression and subjecting them to sameness with others might be counterproductive to their development. The final argument is on a Constitutional basis. Some people argue that dress codes are unconstitutional. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment applied to students in public schools. The majority decision held that administrators have to find constitutionally valid reasons for suppressing the freedom of speech and expression of students. Thus, the constitutionality of dress codes and school uniforms in public schools is questionable.

Op Out Provision
Some schools with a strong mandatory dress code or school uniforms have an op out provision for certain students. Students with religious, health, or other complications that might arise from following the dress code or uniform policy are allowed to fill out a form that, if approved, would exempt them from following the dress code. Advocates of this provision argue that it protects First and 14th Amendment rights.

School Uniforms Internationally
Although school uniforms are not very common in American public schools, they have been adopted in a plethora of countries overseas. From authoritarian, Communist states such as the PRC and Cuba to freedom-loving democracies such as Japan and the United Kingdom, school uniforms are commonplace and accepted. As a matter of fact, virtually every Asian country and every country with strong British influence (with the exception of the United States), make use of school uniforms.

Education and the Federal Government
Traditionally, the handling of public education has taken place at the state level. The Constitution does not list education as one of the powers for the federal government and as per the 10th Amendment, education is a power reserved for the states. However, it is possible to interpret education as one of the key factors that “promote the general welfare of the United States” (general welfare clause). Under this construction, the general welfare clause in combination with the elastic clause provides the Constitutional basis for federal interference in education. Starting from 1959 when the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (which later split into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services in 1980) and cumulating with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, the federal government took on a much greater role in public education. As a matter of fact, the Department of Education was given a $60 billion budget for FY 2008, with much of the money allocated to the states for education. Although the federal government can not mandate that all public schools in the United States adhere to a dress code, it is able to cut federal education funding for states with schools that do not comply.

Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_uniform
http://www.shsu.edu/~pin_www/T@S/2001/DressCode.html
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Teachers/dresscode.html
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/0 ... y_sch.html
http://www.ed.gov/updates/uniforms.html
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent ... 72d02.html

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby EWang » Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:58 pm

An Act to Mandate School Dress Codes and to Endorse School Uniforms

Sponsored by Senator Eric Wang

Whereas school dress codes and school uniforms facilitate safer, more disciplined, and more educationally focused school environments;

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:

Section 1: This act may be referred to as the “Creating Learning-Oriented, Teacher-Helping Environment in Schools (CLOTHES) Act of 2009;”

Section 2: Every public schools district within the United States shall draft and implement a district-wide school dress code under the following conditions:
a. The dress code shall apply to students, teachers, and administrators alike,
b. The dress code must restrict or ban clothing with references that are:
i. obscene,
ii. vulgar,
iii. violent,
iv. gang-related,
v. discriminatory,
vi. harassing, and/or
vii. sexually suggestive,
c. The dress code must restrict or ban clothing that reveal:
i. undergarments,
ii. midriffs,
iii. cleavage,
iv. torso, and/or
v. other inappropriate body parts as deemed by the individual school district,
d. Other attire not aforementioned, but still deleterious to the safety of the students and/or the educational focus of school must be restricted or banned to the discretion of the pertinent school districts,
e. The dress code must include an opt-out provision for students, teachers, or administrators with verified health or religious concerns,
f. The implemented dress code and all revisions will be submitted to the Department of Education for review;
g. School districts must take no more than two years to assemble, propagate, and enforce the dress code;

Section 3: Public schools districts that choose not to follow through with the provisions outlined in Section 2 shall be barred from receiving federal educational funding until all violations of the outlined provisions are addressed, or if the violation is Section 2g, until an appropriate dress code policy is put into place and submitted;

Section 4: The Department of Education Institute of Educational Sciences shall compile an updated “Manual on School Uniform” to be distributed to all public school districts;

Section 5: The Department of Education shall allocate educational grants to school districts that require funds to implement school uniform programs;

Section 6: This bill shall take into effect 91 days after passage.

Comments? Suggestions?

Also, has anyone figured out how to format (i.e. indent) the subsections?

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby galukal » Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:38 pm

Ctrl+tab, I think, Eric.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby EWang » Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:15 pm

Ctrl+tab doesn't work. It just brings up another tab on IE.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby galukal » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:32 pm

I used it on Word. Just copy the Word document and paste it.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby JCasto » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:40 pm

Right off the bat, the question is, "Why the hell is the federal government trying to pass a bill regarding school dress codes?" I would hardly even say this is a state issue, though the states do get involved. This is a local, community issue, one to be decided by the parents of the children at these schools and the other taxpayers that support these schools. Furthermore, I question the very PRINCIPLE on which this argument is founded. Supporters of a dress code claim that these shirts are "disruptive" and "distracting" for students. How is this t-shirt ( http://image.spreadshirt.com/image-serv ... height/280 ) any more distracting than one of those funny t-shirts with clever jokes on them? Both of them divert your attention. Aside from clearly offensive shirts, like "F*** N****ers and Jews," or shirts explicitly depicting sex acts or murder, most t-shirts are OK. That said, I will now address the individual sections.

Section 1: OK, I recommend changing the bill's name to "Creating a Learning-Oriented, Teacher-Helping Environment in Schools (CLOTHES) Act of 2009."

Section 2b: This section is sweeping and very vague. It bans clothing with "references" that are "obscene, vulgar, violent, gang-related, discriminatory, harassing, and/or sexually suggestive." What does this mean? Snoop Dogg is a well-known member of the Crips gang. Would wearing this shirt ( http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/3 ... AA280_.jpg ) count as a "gang-related" "reference"? Does a "Scarface" shirt, which "references" a ridiculously violent movie, count as a "violent" "reference"? Is an anti-Bush shirt "harassing" towards neoconservatives? Is a "Jesus Saves" shirt harassing to, or discriminatory towards, Muslims and Jews? These are just a few examples that show how this vague language can violate a student's freedom of expression. Please clarify how these decisions will be FAIRLY made, and with input from the COMMUNITY.

Section 2c: Banning cleavage? I think you just lost every guy's votes. And besides, cleavage or no, boobs in general are very distracting in a school environment. Should we ban big boobs too? Again, the argument that the dress code seeks to eliminate distractions makes no sense, because there will ALWAYS be distractions. Day dreaming is a distraction... should we ban that? So is having a full bladder! Oh man, so many distractions! Be realistic. Kids are going to focus (or not focus) regardless of whatever freedoms or restrictions you give them. Fighting against "distracting" clothing is pointless. If ANYTHING, focus on inflammatory, violence-causing clothing... things that endanger the students (though this is very debatable, too).

Section 2d: This section exemplifies the vagueness I was worried about. You basically giving full discretion to the administrators to ban whatever they personally deem "deleterious to the safety of the students and/or the educational focus of school." Again, unsatisfactorily vague.

Section 2e: "Verified health or religious concerns"? I understand that doctors verify the health concerns, like if somehow you have to show cleavage so you can breathe properly (IDK), but religious concerns? So who gives me permission to wear my "Jesus Loves You" shirt? My pastor? Please clear this up.

Section 2f & 2g: How is the Department of Education going to review the dress codes of 14,556 school districts (as of 2007)? Who will do it? What money will they use? Why annually? Why two years to assemble? What's the due date? Who will they send it to? etc. etc. etc.

Section 3: Wow. ALL federal funding? For most schools, that can range between 1 and 5 percent of the total budget. Now, with huge downfalls in state budgets, and a massive increase in federal stimulus money, that figure can be as high as 15 percent, as seen in this district ( http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/2009/ ... ol_budget/ ). To take away millions of education dollars simply because the school allows kids to show their midriff is beyond me. I realize the bill needs to have an enforcement mechanism, but you shouldn't put schools into millions of dollars in debt, causing programs to be cut, teachers to be fired, and students to be short changed. Think about a different mechanism to enforce this.

Section 4 & 5: By updating and sending out this manual, and promising to send funds to start a school uniform policy, it seems the federal government is encouraging the implementation of a school uniform. I don't see this as right or necessary.

Section 6: No complaints here, haha.

So that's about it. Hopefully these can be addressed. I'll compile example school budgets, t-shirt examples, and other anecdotes and statistics to thoroughly DESTROY this bill. Liberty will prevail.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby galukal » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:34 pm

thank you, Josh. I was actually going to do that, but I thought I'd wait for the school year to start so the ordinary members could get involved from the beginning and not in the middle. I think we should leave off until the year starts. We'd still have 8 days before the debate.

“ The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. ”- 10th Amendment

OK, I put in my bit, I couldn't help it, but I still think we should wait for school to start, because that's when non-officers will start checking the forums.

Speakers (Being prepared!)
First Pro: Eric Wang
First Con: Josh Casto
Second Pro: Ben Romano
Second Con: Emily Gagliardi

In case you're wondering, I asked Emily already, and I texted Ben at band camp.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby EWang » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:33 am

JCasto wrote:Right off the bat, the question is, "Why the hell is the federal government trying to pass a bill regarding school dress codes?" I would hardly even say this is a state issue, though the states do get involved. This is a local, community issue, one to be decided by the parents of the children at these schools and the other taxpayers that support these schools. Furthermore, I question the very PRINCIPLE on which this argument is founded. Supporters of a dress code claim that these shirts are "disruptive" and "distracting" for students. How is this t-shirt ( http://image.spreadshirt.com/image-serv ... height/280 ) any more distracting than one of those funny t-shirts with clever jokes on them? Both of them divert your attention. Aside from clearly offensive shirts, like "F*** N****ers and Jews," or shirts explicitly depicting sex acts or murder, most t-shirts are OK. That said, I will now address the individual sections.

Why shouldn’t the federal government pass a bill regarding school dress codes? Quality of education for our students is an issue of upmost importance to the nation. That’s why the No Child Left Behind Act was passed and that’s why this bill should be passed. You are correct on one count though. This issue is, to a degree, a local community issue. That’s why a lot of the interpretation of Section 2 is left up to the local school districts. I completely disagree with you about the principle of school dress codes. The primary purpose of school is education and dress codes help maintain an appropriate, safe, and comfortable environment for learning. “Most t-shirts are OK,” but which of the inappropriate references listed in Section 2 (i.e. obscene, vulgar, violent, gang-relating, discriminatory, harassing, and sexually suggestive references) do you feel is okay to wear to school?

JCasto wrote:Section 1: OK, I recommend changing the bill's name to "Creating a Learning-Oriented, Teacher-Helping Environment in Schools (CLOTHES) Act of 2009."

Sure, good acronym.

JCasto wrote:Section 2b: This section is sweeping and very vague. It bans clothing with "references" that are "obscene, vulgar, violent, gang-related, discriminatory, harassing, and/or sexually suggestive." What does this mean? Snoop Dogg is a well-known member of the Crips gang. Would wearing this shirt ( http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/3 ... AA280_.jpg ) count as a "gang-related" "reference"? Does a "Scarface" shirt, which "references" a ridiculously violent movie, count as a "violent" "reference"? Is an anti-Bush shirt "harassing" towards neoconservatives? Is a "Jesus Saves" shirt harassing to, or discriminatory towards, Muslims and Jews? These are just a few examples that show how this vague language can violate a student's freedom of expression. Please clarify how these decisions will be FAIRLY made, and with input from the COMMUNITY.

Again, Section two is deliberately left up to interpretation. The public school district in Camden is going to have different standards (i.e. more emphasis on banning gang attire) than say our school district. As for comment on fairness and input from the community, the dress code for the various school districts will ultimately be determined during Board of Education meetings so the community and the students will be allowed to contribute their input.

JCasto wrote:Section 2c: Banning cleavage? I think you just lost every guy's votes. And besides, cleavage or no, boobs in general are very distracting in a school environment. Should we ban big boobs too? Again, the argument that the dress code seeks to eliminate distractions makes no sense, because there will ALWAYS be distractions. Day dreaming is a distraction... should we ban that? So is having a full bladder! Oh man, so many distractions! Be realistic. Kids are going to focus (or not focus) regardless of whatever freedoms or restrictions you give them. Fighting against "distracting" clothing is pointless. If ANYTHING, focus on inflammatory, violence-causing clothing... things that endanger the students (though this is very debatable, too).

Which public school district actually allows their female students to wear clothing that reveals cleavage to school? Not our school district. Not any that I’ve ever heard of. Such clothing is absolutely inappropriate and distracting for school. Along the same lines of your rhetorical questions, I’m going to ask you whether or not students should be able to come to school with no shirt at all. If students are always distracted, that shouldn’t matter, right?

JCasto wrote:Section 2d: This section exemplifies the vagueness I was worried about. You basically giving full discretion to the administrators to ban whatever they personally deem "deleterious to the safety of the students and/or the educational focus of school." Again, unsatisfactorily vague.

You seem to forget that school administrators already and have always used their full discretion to determine appropriateness and to punish students.

JCasto wrote:Section 2e: "Verified health or religious concerns"? I understand that doctors verify the health concerns, like if somehow you have to show cleavage so you can breathe properly (IDK), but religious concerns? So who gives me permission to wear my "Jesus Loves You" shirt? My pastor? Please clear this up.

Verified religious concerns are pretty self-evident. If you can prove that you are a member of a certain religious (e.g. parental statement) and that religious requires you to violate the dress code, then that’s a verified religious concern. For example, even though our school bans hoodies for security purposes, Muslim students are still allowed to wear hijabs. Besides, concerns deals more with requirements like the hijab than religious expression, which is up to the discretion of the school district and administrators.

JCasto wrote:Section 2f & 2g: How is the Department of Education going to review the dress codes of 14,556 school districts (as of 2007)? Who will do it? What money will they use? Why annually? Why two years to assemble? What's the due date? Who will they send it to? etc. etc. etc.

One question at a time… The school districts will send their dress code to the Department of Education. The due date will be two years after the bill is passed. I’m going to take out annually and replace it whenever the dress code is changed. The money will come from the DOE’s budget. The DOE will do the reviewing. I’ll probably add more detail into this section later when I have the time.

JCasto wrote:Section 3: Wow. ALL federal funding? For most schools, that can range between 1 and 5 percent of the total budget. Now, with huge downfalls in state budgets, and a massive increase in federal stimulus money, that figure can be as high as 15 percent, as seen in this district ( http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/2009/ ... ol_budget/ ). To take away millions of education dollars simply because the school allows kids to show their midriff is beyond me. I realize the bill needs to have an enforcement mechanism, but you shouldn't put schools into millions of dollars in debt, causing programs to be cut, teachers to be fired, and students to be short changed. Think about a different mechanism to enforce this.

Yes, all federal funding. This is an extremely reasonable enforcement method. Josh, you claim that school dress codes is an issue “to be decided by the parents of the children at these schools and the other taxpayers that support these schools.” Other taxpayers that support these schools include people from the entire country through federal funding. If school districts can not go on without students who wear discriminatory clothing, then they can reject the input of the rest of the country in the form of the federal government and all the taxpaying funds that come with it.

JCasto wrote:Section 4 & 5: By updating and sending out this manual, and promising to send funds to start a school uniform policy, it seems the federal government is encouraging the implementation of a school uniform. I don't see this as right or necessary.

The federal government is already encouraging the implementation of a school uniform. The original manual was compiled and distributed during the Clinton administration. The information available in that manual may be out of date. An updated manual would include more recent examples and statistics, thus allowing school districts across the country to make more educated decisions regarding school uniforms. As for section 5, the education grants will be mostly going towards providing children from impoverish backgrounds with school uniforms. School districts which implement school uniform policies can’t force students to buy uniforms if the students can’t afford it. This educational grant will allow school districts to assist the aforementioned students financially.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby galukal » Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:07 am

Why should we allow the federal government to continue doing what it's doing if it's not supposed to be doing it? Education is a states' right, and we should work to uphold the Constitution and keep it that way. Local communities and the states know what's best for their own children's needs, and the federal government should get out of it where it's supposed to be. Aside from maintaining law and peace, the government has no real role.

Margaret Thatcher put it well: "There is no such thing as society," just individuals. Expanding the powers of government clearly delineated in the Constitution for the arbitrary good of an arbitrary group is a great problem. Yes, we have an Elastic Clause and a General Welfare Clause, but I absolutely do not believe that the founding fathers, who were the ones who wrote the thing and knew what it was supposed to mean, thought that those should crush states' rights. Otherwise they'd let us be like Britain, with no Constitution, rather than have clearly outlined powers and limits.

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Not the federal government. The people who wrote the Constitution did not have today's trust of government, and actively worked to limit it. It WAS NOT meant to be how you describe it, and dress codes are hardly a national emergency r need worthy of being covered by the elastic clause.

Elastic Clause: “The Congress shall have Power - To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

Education was not a foregoing power, and it's not vested anywhere in the Constitution- except with the states and localities.

"Should Congress, in the execution of its powers, adopt measures which are prohibited by the Constitution, or should Congress, under the pretext of executing its powers, pass laws for the accomplishment of objects not intrusted to the Government, it would become the painful duty of this tribunal, should a case requiring such a decision come before it, to say that such an act was not the law of the land."- McCullough v. Maryland

"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way, which the constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for, though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed."- George Washington's Farewell Address

Get out of education.

EDIT: Guys, don't fill this with stuff like the posts I'm about to delete. I know you're joking, but let's start off with a productive debate and not argue about things you don't mean. You can always needle each other to your heart's content in other contexts.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby bromano » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:19 am

In our schools, the profanity, and vulgarity of the average teenager becomes worse and worse as the years go by. Today, fashion has become a major part school. If a kid wears Aeropostale, or Hollister, they are considered cool. Many shirts are available that show a vulgar or diragatory statement. This bill works well because it doesn't require a dress code of a shirt and tie, or other Western Business Attire. It only prevents clothes that are revealing, vulgar, violent, gang related, etc. Many schools across the country already have rules along these lines in place.

Though education is a states right, the dress code is not necessary part of the actual education. If we pass this bill, we will not be making a school have a certain ciriculum, or making them take a certain class. We are just helping them improve standards. Throughout the recent history of the United States, the carrer of a student, and their school system has hinged on standardized tests. PSAT, SAT, and the ACT are all test that are required for many college applications. The GRE allows high school dropouts to recieve a college diploma. Federal funding of schools also depends on their proficiency on such tests. Never before has our nation been so dependent on a federally standardized tests. The federal governmetnt isn't as seperate from the education system as people like to think. No Child Left Behind instituted many federally mandated education standards. If NCLB is allowed to be instituted, then there should not be a problem with a federal dress code.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby galukal » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:19 pm

No, Ben, this is where we draw boundaries. The fact that a little encroachment has been made doesn't mean we should allow more and more of them. States and localities are perfectly capable of handling their own local needs such as dress codes. Most schools already have some kind of dress code, which cover the things needed. Allowing this bill to pass is a) a dance over the 10th Amendment's broken body and b) just plain ridiculous and unnecessary.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby bliang » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:36 pm

Apologies for the bump, but I require some of the stats that were mentioned at this debate.

I think, but I'm not sure, that Eric Wang was the one who mentioned these statistics. I want the figures that pertain to how bad the education system in our country is compared to other countries in the world. And if possible I'd like the sources from which these statistics came from as well.

Thanks in advance.

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby EWang » Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:19 pm

The United States' overall secondary education is ranked 18/36 countries according to a general study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/11/19/ ... 1227104776). Another OECD study. the PISA 3-year survey, showed that American 15 year-olds performed 28th out of 41 countries in math, 22th out of 41 countries in reading, and 29th out of 41 countries in problem solving (http://www.pisa.oecd.org/dataoecd/1/63/34002454.pdf).

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Re: School Dress Codes

Postby galukal » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:41 pm

OK, and I don't think a national dress code would fix that at all. We need better habits related to viewing good school performance as a priority. I don't think a(n unconstitutional) federal dress code could do that at all.

Still, I'll give you credit for trying. I don't see how you were supposed to make a meaningful Congress bill on this subject and make it constitutional.


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