The public school system in Little Rock, Ark., home of Bill Clinton, has been taken over by the state after years of failure.
The six-school, academically distressed district has long been in the bottom of the school districts, with fewer than half of its students scoring at proficient levels on tests.
But most interesting was a decision announced in August 2013 that the district was enacting a dress code that would require teachers to wear underwear.
The announcement of a new dress code declared that “foundational garments shall be worn and not visible with respect to color, style, and/or fabric,” the Daily Caller reported.
T-shirts, patches and other clothing containing slogans for beer, alcohol, drugs, gangs or sex were similarly prohibited. Other verboten garments included cut-off jeans with ragged edges and cut-out dresses.
‘Tattoos must be covered if at all possible.’ No flip-flops. ‘No see-through or sheer clothing.’ No jogging suits, either (though gym and dance teachers got a pass on that one).
In a letter to the teachers union rank and file, local teachers union president Cathy Koehler explained her fear that ‘if an employee refuses to go home and change they can be considered insubordinate and risk losing their job based on an opinion.’
But there were numerous other problems as well, as USA Today reported:
Less than six months ago, a federal judge granted more independence to the district and ended 25 years of payments to boost integration.
With desegregation funding running out, the district would soon need to cut $37 million to stay solvent. Last year, Arkansas classified six of the district’s 48 schools as academically distressed after fewer than half of the students scored at proficient levels on the tests. Two-thirds of the district’s 30 elementary schools are scoring in the lowest 25% on math exams. The Little Rock School District is the state’s largest with nearly 25,000 students.
During a public hearing where parents, students, community activists and teachers pleaded against the takeover, the state voted 5-4 to take control of the district.
“Bottom line, it was the best thing for students,” board member Vicki Saviers told the Little Rock newspaper.