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Letter of the day: Thwaites should back schools on uniform rules

Published:Tuesday | October 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Jose Marti High School was in the news on Monday night. I gather that this is one of a growing number of schools that have found it necessary to institute a rule requiring female students to wear uniforms that are 11 inches below the knee. Last week, one student decided to break that rule and turn up in a shorter uniform. She was suspended for five days.

Last night, that girl and her mother were on television. At first, I thought the mother was going to apologise for the obvious lapse in providing guidance to her daughter. But the concern of both mother and daughter was the fact that disciplinary action was taken. All things considered, this did not surprise me too much.

What really concerned me was the appearance of the minister of education - his second in the past few days - to 'ask' a school administration to rethink/reconsider their decision.

I gather Minister Thwaites does not think a child should be sent home for this reason. I can understand his position when there is a deficiency because of difficult economic circumstances. But this is not the case.

Rules help to keep order in society. Ours is one in which good parenting is at a premium. The assumption is that values that have influenced morality are instilled inside the family. But where is the family in our society?

This student will return to school on Thursday, triumphant. She and her mother were on TV. Magnificently coiffed. The minister was there, too. And he didn't side with the school. 'Bun' discipline. She has won. She is a star! So what will happen next week when 20 girls turn up with their uniforms 11 inches above their knees? The principal won't have a leg to stand on. She will be in a pickle, the vinegar and pepper for which was provided by the minister.

I suggest, respectfully, that when the minister has a difference of opinion in these matters, he hold a private discussion with the school leadership, and the administration be allowed to announce any change in position.

We all know that a 'request' from the minister is really an order and the authority of the school administration is thereafter compromised. This has severe implications for management going forward.

Perhaps, when we start appointing members of school boards based on their ability to contribute to the welfare of the school, some uniformity can be set for policies and procedures to avoid the weekly intervention of the minister in domestic matters.