Is our school’s dress code propagating classism?
Frequenters of the Forrest Bird Charter School (FBCS)’s Uncommons may notice an influx of hoodies and other overwear not allowed in the dress code, and not just on seniors (who have the privilege to do so). When questioned, the most common reason given was undeniably, “I’m cold.”
Also notable was, “The dress code jackets aren’t warm enough”
“The dress code jackets are uncomfortable”
“I’m not spending twenty dollars on a jacket I’m only going to wear at school”
Twenty or thirty dollars may not sound like a significant expense to some, but compared to the $1-$15 Goodwill price for sweaters or the expanse of pullovers and hoodies in the $6-$15 price range at Walmart, FBCS’s dress code-approved jackets are definitely on the pricier end of non-designer everyday wear, ranging from 28 to 40 dollars depending on the style.
Relevant to these costs is that around 49% of the school’s population in impoverished. And living in north Idaho isn’t particularly cheap; according to rentdata.org, rent in Bonner County is higher than it is in 76% of the US and 80% of the state. And while Boundary Country’s rent is closer to the national average, it’s still more expensive than 65% of the state. Combined with food and heating costs for a family, twenty to thirty dollars for a coat may not be a viable option for the half of FBCS in poverty.
These costs are significant to our student body, however, the school does have policies in place to help students in need. Middle School principal Jennifer Greve was adamant in assuring that systems are in place to address these issues.
“I do wish the items were more affordable. This is why we have sought other ways to help. We have donations in the middle school we try to hand out when possible. Other times adults (faculty & parents) in each building have purchased a jacket for a student in need (using their own money).” [sic]
Unfortunately, the prices on the jackets are set by Sand Creek Custom Wear, the printers and providers of the product. Because Sand Creek Custom Wear gets to set their prices, adjusting the price of the jackets isn’t possible. Greve assures that she is aware of the monetary issues in the school, and that these systems are in place to assist those who face these issues.
Greve states that these procedures aren’t discussed openly too much to protect the privacy of the students who use them. This is understandable, privacy is important to protect. However, one must wonder if keeping these alternatives too hidden could discourage those who need them from asking. Perhaps in the future these options could be further advertised, or the options of overwear could be expanded beyond the logo-emblazoned pieces.
All photos by the Lunchy Boi