Your Hair Is Wrong!


So a 6th grader in Chanelview, Texas (Stephanie Plato) gets a birthday gift of highlights from her mom. She decides to go with some red streaks. She loves them and can’t wait to get to school and show her friends. I am sure my readers can guess what happened next.

Yes, she was taken out of her class by the principal, suspended, and sent home. She was told not to return until her hair was not a distraction and back to a natural color. To which I have only this to say. For FUCKS sake when are schools going to remember we are here to teach children. We are not the fashion police or their parents.

This shit pisses me off and it will continue to piss me off until my dying day. It happens everywhere. I will never change my mind about this. If someone’s hair color becomes a distraction in a teacher’s classroom it is the teacher’s fault. No questions asked. End of story. Nothing to see here. Time to move on.

I set up my learning environment. I control the delivery of education. My students are distracted all the time. They get distracted by what’s going on outside. They get distracted by the fly buzzing around in the room. They get distracted by the speck of dirt on the floor underneath their desk. I pull them back into focus and we go on learning. My class is no different than any other class. Most students (even if they understand the importance) don’t want to be in school. They are my little hostages. I teach them. I try to make it interesting, and yes fun. Trust me when I say this I have complete control over the learning environment of my class. Hair will not blow it to smithereens. Not even if it’s polka dot.

Sadly, Stephanie’s mom caved to the schools draconian demand to squash her personal freedom. Most of the time parents do but every time it happens I have to feel there is one more parent who doesn’t feel all that warm and fuzzy about schools. Schools are under attack from all sides (sometimes deservedly so) this should be a clue that we have bigger and better things to worry about.

All I care about is getting my students ready for their future. As a teacher one of the greatest joys of the job is seeing a kid mature into the young adult they are going to become. I love when my students let their real selves out. I am not a cookie cutting machine. School should not be considered a one size fits all model. If I wanted to teach robots I would have continued working with computers.

Schools act like hair color and clothes is some kind of gateway drug into acting out or causing trouble. This is a load of crap. Kids act out or cause trouble when they are disrespected, when their home lives are one step above sewer water, when they feel powerless or bullied. I can’t control the home life but I can make sure everything else is being taken care of. Schools are suppose to educate children. Stephanie’s school sure did educate her. Unfortunately, the message delivered is we do not accept individuals here. If you try to be yourself you will be punished. We care more about hair than you staying in school and preparing for your future. That’s a sad bit of education.

About csdaley

C.S. Daley was born in California but has spent most of his life in his imagination. His first short story written in third grade, the now classic "Close Encounters of the Turd Kind," was sold to his next door neighbor for a quarter. The neighbor promptly demanded a refund. An unhealthy obsession with the writings of Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, and Terry Pratchett have left his mind warped and broken. He spends most of his evening swilling down coffee while tapping at a keyboard under the watchful eyes of his kittens. They are there to make sure he doesn't snap. He likes to write fantasy for adults and teens.

3 Responses to “Your Hair Is Wrong!”

  1. >Those streaks are a distraction? Omg. Wow. If those streaks are a distraction, so are the purple eyeglasses. Make her go get gold or silver wireframes so they won't stand out either.Crushing a person's individuality destroys their independence and identity. It's good to know there are still teachers like you who do believe that kids should be treated like individuals!

  2. >When I was in the Las Vegas education system, I had purple streaks in my hair because I won a bet against my dad…Same thing happened to me. Pushed out of school until it was gone.When I moved to Iowa…No one cared!! I had full on green/purple/red/pink whatever color every single week! There was no dress code, nothing! 13 yrs later the rules have changed A BIT…but no one gives a crap about hair color. However, it is like the flipping twilight zone where I live… My kids already know, if they want to do something like dye their hair to express themselves, they can. I would fight the school system…but I am kinda brash like that. 🙂

  3. >Excellent article and comments.Stephanie's picture shows a girl whose individuality will not be easily crushed. KUDOS to her parents for supporting her in expressing herself.And "what you said" to the idiots who sent her home! Have these people (I use the term loosely) any clue at all?I remember in the 60s one of our older brothers was sent home for having hair that touched his collar.The other older brother, as you know, had it a hell of a lot longer than that. (and looked damn good, I might add!:D)I only ever got my hair a bit past the collar for various reasons, none of which had to do with my fashion sense–which you may remember was nothing to write home about.Funny thing about that last part is that the teacher who sent our older brother home for hair down to his collar was one of my all-time favorite teachers. I'm pretty sure I asked him why he didn't mind my hair, since it was a bit longer than __'s whom he had sent home. His answer: the rules had changed.This may seem like a copout, but to me seems like a valid, even perhaps wise answer. He was a former marine who wore his hair in a crewcut, and who didn't seem to care how long or what color his students hair was. His job was to teach his high school math students in a classroom with rules, some of which were passed down from the school hierarchy. If the rules were not oppressive or unjust in his view, it makes sense to me that he would enforce them.

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