January 13, 2010

Wednesday WTF: Texas Preschooler Suspended For "Beatles Hair"

From The NY Times story on why 4-year-old Taylor Pugh's long hair means must continue to "be separated from other children" in his public preschool class:

The boy, Taylor Pugh, says he likes his hair long and curly. But on Monday night, the school board in Mesquite voted unanimously to enforce its ban on Beatles haircuts, much less anything approaching coiffures of bands like Led Zeppelin.
Hey Mesquite School Board, here's your first and second clue that your dress code is totally #($*%ing out-of-date: Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

But wait, his hair isn't even long!


Oh wait, maybe Beatles and Zeppelin are just the NY Times' interpretation. Last month when the story broke in Texas, the Austin Statesman published the school district's actual dress code language:

According to the district dress code, boys' hair must be kept out of the eyes and cannot extend below the bottom of earlobes or over the collar of a dress shirt. Hairstyles "designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus (are) not permitted," the policy states.
Taylor's dad, the noted Balch Springs tattoo artist Delton Pugh, says he made "a pinky promise" with his son, who goes by the name Tater Tot, not to cut their hair. And so they've been fighting Tater Tot's in-school suspension because he misses his friends, and Delton, "don't think it's right to hold a child down and force him to do something ... when it's not hurting him or affecting his education."

Amen, Delton, you let Tater Tot make his own choice, and you help him by explaining the consequences associated with his various options. Just like you accept the consequences of choosing to live in an uptight, backwards suburb run by self-righteous control freaks.

Boy, 4, Chooses Long Locks and Is Suspended From Class [nyt via southwillard]
Texas parents, school tangle over boy's long locks [statesman/ap]


Here is the real tradgedy:


When that boy learns to dance, he'll REALLY upset John Lithgow, who is presumably still the town's preacher.

The comments are supper special...about 50-1 thrashing the parents...Yup, this is my adopted state and yes, we are peopled that think this kids hair is a travesty but having the most un-insured kids of any state in the country is a-OK!

As someone who took high school government in Texas I can sum this up for you:

The supreme court has said unless you have a legitimate religious reason (and there were native american kids in my elementary school who had a religious exemption), the kids and parents have no rights.

Well it's a democracy. They have the right to run and get elected to the schoolboard and change the policy, but the courts don't care.

When I went to school we had these exact same rules. You also couldn't have facial hair. Boys couldn't have ear piercings, and girls couldn't have more than 2. We couldn't wear shorts. Skirts had to come to below the knee. I could go on.

The travesty is that he lives in a white flight suburb of Dallas. People move to those places to pretend they live in the 1950s. The parents are going to lose this one.

I don't know.. I think if I'd made something as unshakable and solid as a "pinky promise" with my child, I'd have made sure before that it wasn't going to get him excluded at school...

I get that his hair *shouldn't* be an issue, but it is, and teaching him that rules shouldn't be followed does what, exactly?

Come on now. Is the school district being crazy? Obviously. The kid's hair looks fine to me.

Is it unusual for bureaucracy of any kind to enforce stupid "no tolerance" policies? Of course not.

I do kinda take issue with the assumptions made about Mesquite, though. It's worth bashing because white people live there and they have a dress code?

I was born and raised in Wylie, an even further suburb of Dallas, which, when my parents first moved there was rural. Mesquite is where we went to the mall. It has lots of Hispanics and African Americans, and most of it is pretty presentable. Solidly blue collar, though nobody I remember thought they were living in the 1950s.

WTF back atcha, teufelkindsvater and Tim.

We non-Americans hate you for your freedom.

I don't know anything about Mesquite except for the public preschool dress code, but I think the stick-up-assedness of such petty governmental meddling is pretty clear.

That said, it exists, I'm sure it's well-known and Tater Tot's parents are squarely responsible for the consequences of ignoring it. The kid got a haircut violation notice just a couple of months after starting preschool, and I suspect his parents thought it was ridiculous and decided to ignore/fight it. In one early article the dad says the kid wants to grow his hair out so he can donate it a cancer wigmaker, which, I'm sorry, it complete, smart-ass bullshit.

The only bummer here is Tater Tot's experience. And his extremely unfortunate hair, of course. He looks like Rod Blagojevich in this one. Whoa, and how much product does this palm-tree ponytail require?

woah there nelly! I never said his parent's WEREN'T total t-bags for making this poor little guy the center of a 'freedom of expression' battle. I didn't make any assumptions about the community itself. That said, government CAN run away with itself... if you haven't noticed.

I know f-all about Mesquite (although the name is tangy AND zesty). You've got to admit though, that particular school dress code is a BIT strict for a PUBLIC school.

In my wife's district (which used to be blue collar, until all the jobs vanished) it's pretty much 'try not to soil yourself WHILE in class' and 'we'd appreciate it if you wouldn't bring weapons to school'.

Hair seems a bit of a trivial concern, especially when it isn't crawling with lice.
just sayin'.

BTW Lydia: any 'Footloose' reference is gold, Therefore, it beats rock, scissors, paper, OR Chuck Norris.

Rachel said:
As a teacher I will say that nothing annoys me more than kids - ANY kids, boys and girls alike, coming to school with their hair all hanging in their face. The bangs especially and it happens ALL THE TIME! I don't give a hoot about how long a kid's hair is if it's kept clean and out of their faces. I have one child who goes around all day at the age of three with snot - yes SNOT in her hair and her hair stuck to her face and nose regardless of how many times I wash her face and try to keep it out of their because apparently her parents have never heard of bows or clips. I can tell just by looking at the photo that this kids hair would be all up in his eyes all day long.

I can't stand it.

Okay, okay. You win with the "Footloose" reference. Tim just got me all riled up.

One of the perks of growing up where I did, though, was that I was an extra on "Walker, Texas Ranger" a couple times. Hanging out with Chuck Norris (he would always come talk to the kids on set) as a teenager, pretty much pwned everything else cool I did in high school.

To bring things full circle, a friend at BYU--which had the same off-the-collar dress code, btw, plus, no shorts, no facial hair, and guys had to wear socks--was an extra in "Footloose."

Since when does a preschool have in school suspension? That is messed up in and of itself. Do we prisons for 4 year olds too now? What does the school board think they are doing by isolating this child?

I could understand the "no hair in face" rule if it applied to boys and girls equally, but this doesn't seem to.

Apparently, if he doesn't cut his hair by next week, he's going to lose his "tutor"/attendant and end up sitting in the principal's office all day. No teaching or anything, just somewhere that adults will be able to keep an eye on him. It sounds like high educational negligence to me.

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