The Arkansas State Board of Education has taken over the Little Rock School District because they have too many schools that are under academic distress, according to Arkansas Online. But that’s not all- the takeover included removing the entire district board, which had just imposed a dress code requiring teachers to wear underwear.
That begs the question: Who’s going to act as the underwear police? How do you enforce wearing underwear without forcing teachers to drop their pants and lift up their shirts so administrators know that they’re meeting code? Or, rather, so that administrators can verify, when it’s unclear, that a specific teacher is not meeting code? The dress code, which can be found in full at the Arkansas Times, contains some of the following items:
- “Foundation garments shall be worn.” (This struck one teacher who wrote the Times as an unnecessary admonition.)
- No clothing with patchers [sic] or slogans about alcohol, cigarettes, obscenities, sexual references and the like.
- No jeans, except on designated days. (This has caused some unhappiness.)
- “Casual T-shirts” — faded, sheer, out of shape, inappropriately sized — are not allowed.
- No mini-skirts, halter tops, backless or sheer dresses.
- Only “dress casual” shorts.
- No flip-flops.
- No hats in buildings, except religious head coverings.
Most of the rest of the code makes at least some sense. It’s the underwear requirement that doesn’t. But the Little Rock School District isn’t the first entity to have an over-the-top requirement about underwear in its dress code. Swiss bank UBS came under fire in 2010 for a 43-page dress code that required people to wear flesh-colored underwear. But that dress code was over the top in many other ways, too, such as telling employees what to eat to avoid having bad breath, telling women how to apply their makeup, and now to maintain their nylons. It even told men how often they should cut their hair, and told everyone not to wear black nail polish.
According to a 2011 article from USA Today, UBS later relaxed the dress code, issuing a handbook with more general guidelines about how to dress and behave to impress clients. But UBS is also a major Swiss bank with a very specific image to uphold.
As far as teachers, yes, they should look professional. They should not wear revealing clothing, clothing that appears worn or is too casual (such as cutoffs or sweatpants), or clothing with images and text that sends a bad message. It’s reasonable to ask that teachers’ underwear not be visible (such as boxers or thongs peeping over the top of a waistband, or a bright red bra under a thin white shirt). It’s also reasonable to ask that teachers make sure their junk isn’t visible through their clothes in some way. But requiring teachers to wear underwear at all times is ridiculously hard to enforce without serious, invasive inspections.
It’s unclear if the state’s takeover of the Little Rock School District will involve removing that particular item from the dress code. Right now, the state is more concerned about improving the academic performance of the students at these schools (as well they should be). But perhaps they’ll leave a new board in place that will focus more on academics than they will on whether teachers are wearing underwear.