It is not directly relevant to Natalie Munroe’s complaints perhaps, but when students today seem less than in awe of those adults who claim to be qualified to guide them to wisdom and success in school, they often have good cause to be wary. Take the example of Stephanie Plato, a sixth grader at Cobb Elementary School in Houston’s Channelview school district.
Stephanie was suspended from school because the red and blonde highlights her mother let her get died into her hair as a 12th birthday present violated the school’s code of conduct.
You read that right.
We are not talking electric orange here, or anything strange and disruptive. Just a few red highlights in her naturally brown hair. But the school dress code bans “inappropriate hair color”…such as red. Don’t ask me why. It doesn’t matter why. It is stupid.
Red hair…you know, like Little Orphan Annie, Ronald Reagan, Susan Sarandon, Ann-Margret, Van Johnson, Eric Stoltz, Thomas Jefferson, Woody Allen, Anne Boleyn, Prince Harry, Sarah Bernhardt, Winston Churchill, Napoleon, Sarah Ferguson, Rupert Grint, Queen Elizabeth I, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Andrew Jackson, Conan O’Brien, Bernadette Peters, Rita Hayworth, Shakespeare, George Washington…inappropriate.
I’ve said this before, as have others, but when schools discipline innocent, well-intentioned, non-disruptive conduct—
Red highlights!!!!!! Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
—- because of overly broad, poorly conceived, illogical, unnecessary and arbitrary rules, they simply teach students that the concept of adult intelligence and wisdom is a myth, and that they are under the thumbs of foolish, power-abusing, inconsiderate, child-loathing fools who deserve little respect and only whatever obedience that is necessary to avoid their desire to bully, insult, and harm.
That’s what Cobb Elementary School taught Stephanie and her classmates by suspending her because she wanted red highlights in her hair. And if, from this day on, Stephanie and the rest, the veils of respect yanked from their eyes, become the kind of inwardly sneering, inattentive, adversarial students that the Natalie Munroes of the teaching establishment regard as “assholes” and “fucks,” we shouldn’t be surprised, and we should know exactly who to blame.