State Forces Arkansas Teachers To Wear Underwear To Work: Little Rock Schools In Distress

Although it’s hard to say what is worse, the fact that apparently some teachers weren’t wearing underwear or that the state stepped in and decided to make them, it’s a move that has made plenty of people have their panties in a bunch. But the fact that teachers aren’t wearing underwear doesn’t even seem to be the biggest issue at play.

Things have been going downhill in Arkansas since August 2013, when the district announced, to the great dismay of the teachers union, a dress code that would require teachers to wear underwear to school every single day. Female teachers would have to wear bras, too. And the strangest rule of all: no spandex. Were so many teachers wearing spandex that this was an issue?

According to the Arkansas Democratic Gazette, a mere 18 months later, the Arkansas Department of Education has voted to assume control over management of the school district. The Little Rock district has been fraught with issues of late, the most damning being academic distress. The district includes six schools that have academic problems: three high schools, two middle schools, and an elementary school.

The narrow 5-4 vote on Wednesday by the state school board effectively takes control of the district from the local school board, and keeps Superintendent Dexter Suggs on the job on an interim basis. The 5-4 vote for a takeover came after state education officials had also voted 5-4 against a compromise plan that would have entailed a state-local partnership, which seemed to break down in negotiations and immediate intervention was needed.

Greg Adams, the president of the Little Rock school board, expressed his concern and disappointment about the outcome of the voting decision.

“My concern now and my hope is the kids of Little Rock will be served well and that the leadership that’s going to be there will be able to find effective ways for the kids.”

“Bottom line, it was the best thing for students,” board member Vicki Saviers told the Little Rock newspaper.

In August 2013, a new dress code for teachers was enacted within the district, one that said “foundational garments shall be worn and not visible with respect to color, style, and/or fabric.”

T-shirts, patches, and other clothing containing slogans for beer, hard alcohol, drugs, gangs, or sex were similarly banned. Other banned garments included cut-off jeans with ragged edges and cut-out dresses.

Tattoos must be covered if at all possible, no flip-flops are allowed, as is “no see-through or sheer clothing.” No jogging suits are allowed, either, except for dance and gym teachers.

Local teachers union president Cathy Koehler explained her fear that “if an employee refuses to go home and change, they can be considered insubordinate and risk losing their job based on an opinion.”

Although the academic distress of the schools and the need for explicitly spelled out teacher dress codes seem to be unrelated at first glance, perhaps they are part of a bigger problem.

Teachers across the globe, what are your thoughts?