Margaret Spellings and the U.S. Department of Education seem to recognize that flexibility sometimes makes sense. But the good folks in charge at Maurice J. McDonough High School in College Park, Maryland know that rules are rules are rules are rules and that bending them can lead to chaos, cats and dogs lying down together, and the end of civilization as we know it. Though a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, a tie is not a tie is not a tie is not a tie. Thomas Benya, a Native American graduating senior, wore a string bolo tie rather than a Windsor knot under his gown to commencement exercises, a violation of the school’s dress code. (That’s the Mandatory! dress code, as it was described in a bulletin to students.) Benya was barred from walking across the stage to receive his diploma. Would that schools were as serious about upholding academic standards as they can be about this kind of silliness. Thanks to the Associated Press, the school’s action was reported in papers and on television across the nation.
–Guest blogger Richard Lee Colvin, Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, Teachers College, Columbia University