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WHAT’S IN A NAME? ASK SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ABOUT ITS PC-STANCE ON ‘REDSKINS’ … plus SCHOOL UNIFORMS IS AN IDEA WHO TIME IS LONG OVERDUE IN THE PITTSFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2013) — If we may step back from the boiling cauldron of local politics for a moment, near simmering in some aspects that THE PLANET shall be revealing in the near future, we have to ask, with Will Shakespeare and Gertrude Stein: What’s in a name?

This from wire service reports:

The debate over the use of the name “Redskins” to refer to the professional football concern in Washington took a new turn [recently] when Robert Klemko, a writer for “Monday Morning Quarterback,” a Sports Illustrated website, announced that the site will no longer use the “Redskins” name.

“I know that our site, we’ve talked about it, and we’re not going to use Redskins in our writing,” Klemko told CBS Sports Radio. “We’re going to say ‘Washington football team.’ And it’s not something we’re going to publicize or write about. We’re just not going to do it.” 

Can we inject a note of common sense here, or has political correctness taken over what’s left of reason in this country? Sports Illustrated runs a gimmicky feature on the Apocalypse, picking out a bizarre happening or outrageous quote to tell us that The End is near. This feature typifies how SI has, like many but not all media outlets, prostituted its standards to appease the increasingly illiterate sports hounds 30 years old and under. It’s more of a shame when it happens to a magazine once known for its high standards, including excellent writing.

The new SI target audience consist of the ADHDd, hyperactive, overstimulated lads, mostly, who grew up on line. They love fantasy leagues more than the real thing. Video games have reduced their attention spans to the life duration of the fruit fly, and so SI has come up with lots of picture-rich content lacking words with lots of veneer but little if any substance. In fact, we nominate Klemko‘s sanctimonious PC stance regarding “Redskins” as the best sign to date that the End is Nigh.

THE PLANET vociferously disagrees with this position. We think of “Redskins” as a perfectly fine nickname for a team, certainly along with “Braves” and “Indians.” These names pay homage to America’s first inhabitants, who largely see them as badges of honor. We have long stopped reading SI, and the magazine’s PC position on “Redskins” won’t be bringing us back any time soon.

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DRESS CODE IS ONE SURE, PROVEN WAY TO BOOST SCHOOLS WITHOUT NEEDING EXTRA MONEY

Getting back to Pittsfield politics, THE PLANET has long insisted on developing a dress code for Pittsfield Public Schools that is clear and well enforced. It would require the kids to stop dressing like they don’t care about themselves and like they have parents who care about them. It would ban the butt-crack and hooker looks for boys and girls, and — most important — would be enforced. We will now go one step further. The time has come for uniforms for middle schoolers and high schoolers. And if you think the PPS is not about politics more than it is about education, you must be knew to these parts.

The simple answer to any parent who objects (the kids objections do not matter; they are kids and have no say) is this: “Sir and Madam, you are willingly accepting $17,000 per child from taxpayers so that your kids can attend public schools at no cost to you. Many of these taxpayers don’t even have kids in the public school system. Nonetheless, they contribute to the community’s well being with their $17,000 gift. When you accept this money, you agree to abide by a set of simple rules. One of those rules is that you and your children will adhere to the policy on school uniforms.”

Period. End of discussion. If they protest further, then say: “Fine. No one is forcing you to take the $17,000. If allowing you kid to dress as you or they please is that important to you, we invite you to take your kid out of the PPS and go elsewhere.” Double period. Double end of discussion.

With that, we present from fashionable food for thought. This first piece is from the Associated Press:

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That’s no doubt what the cheerleaders of Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., are saying to the news that their uniforms violate the school dress code and they can’t wear them to class on game days, according to a story from WFTS-Tampa.

Officials at the school, which is located in the Tampa Bay area, are telling the students that their school-provided cheerleader uniforms should cover shoulders and the skirts should reach midthigh.

“I love putting it on. All the cheerleaders do,” cheerleading team member Jeana Fraser told the TV station.

But now, due to a strict enforcement of policy, Jeana may no longer be showing up to class on game days in her uniform. According to the Tampa Bay Times, in the past, Pinellas County high schools had turned a blind eye to the dress code violations.

This school year, some of the high schools are stepping up enforcement or introducing a stricter dress code for school hours, even when it comes to approved school uniforms.

“There’s a dress code in place,” Pinellas County school district spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra told the TV station. “If a school determines a certain outfit is not appropriate then they can ask a student to change or to wear something different. This might include athletic uniforms.”

Countryside principal Gary Schlereth told the Tampa Bay Times he is working with the cheerleaders on a compromise in the classroom: Jackets to cover bare arms, for example. Skirts may have a Velcro section of fabric added for length. Alternatively, track pants may be ordered for the girls.

For the game this Friday, Jeana knows what she’ll be wearing to cheer. But she’s still not sure what she’ll be wearing to class.

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Next, the following information is from an article by writer Marian Wilde:

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According to proponents, school uniforms:

  • Help prevent gangs from forming on campus
  • Encourage discipline
  • Help students resist peer pressure to buy trendy clothes
  • Help identify intruders in the school
  • Diminish economic and social barriers between students
  • Increase a sense of belonging and school pride
  • Improve attendance

Uniforms vs. dress codes

Schools and districts vary widely in how closely they adhere to the concept of uniformity.

What’s a dress code?

Generally, dress codes are much less restrictive than uniform policies. Sometimes, however, dress codes are nearly as strict, as in the case of a middle school in Napa, California. This particular school’s dress code required students to wear solid colors and banned images or logos on clothes. When a student was sent to detention for wearing socks adorned with the image of Winnie-the-Pooh’s friend Tigger, the girl’s family sued the school district for violating her freedom of speech. In August of 2007, the district announced it would relax its dress code – for the time being – to allow images and fabrics other than solid colors. The district superintendent, while admitting that banning images on clothes raises concerns about the restriction of political and religious speech, announced his intention to move soon toward implementing uniforms in the district.

Uniforms are certainly easier for administrators to enforce than dress codes.

  • Decorations (including tattoos) that are symbols, mottoes, words or acronyms that convey crude, vulgar, profane, violent, gang-related, sexually explicit or suggestive messages
  • Large or baggy clothes (this prohibition can be used to keep students from excessive “sagging”)
  • Holes in clothes
  • Scarves, curlers, bandanas or sweatbands inside of school buildings (exceptions are made for religious attire)
  • Visible undergarments
  • Strapless garments
  • Bare midriffs, immodestly low-cut necklines or bare backs
  • Tights, leggings, bike shorts, swim suits or pajamas as outerwear
  • Visible piercings, except in the ear
  • Dog collars, tongue rings and studs, wallet chains, large hair picks, or chains that connect one part of the body to another

What research says about school uniforms

Virginia Draa, assistant professor at Youngstown State University, reviewed attendance, graduation and proficiency pass rates at 64 public high schools in Ohio. Her final analysis surprised her: “I really went into this thinking uniforms don’t make a difference, but I came away seeing that they do. At least at these schools, they do. I was absolutely floored.”

Draa’s study concluded that those schools with uniform policies improved in attendance, graduation and suspension rates. She was unable to connect uniforms with academic improvement because of such complicating factors as changing instructional methods and curriculum.

Meanwhile, the movement toward uniforms in public schools has spread to about a quarter of all elementary schools. Experts say that the number of middle and high schools with uniforms is about half the number of elementary schools. If uniforms are intended to curb school violence and improve academics, why are they not more prevalent in middle and high schools, where these goals are just as important as in elementary schools? Because, says Brunsma, “It’s desperately much more difficult to implement uniforms in high schools, and even middle schools, for student resistance is much, much higher. In fact, most of the litigation resulting from uniforms has been located at levels of K-12 that are higher than elementary schools. Of course, this uniform debate is also one regarding whether children have rights, too!”

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 Michelle Kouzmine, kidsfashion.about.com, add this:

1. School Uniform Pro 1: The Uniform in Uniformity

Educators and experts who are pro school uniforms believe that uniforms contribute positively to students’ behavior. They believe that when students wear uniforms, they feel more professional and behave accordingly. Many educators believe that students can become distracted by fashion trends and status symbol clothing. Therefore, when all students are dressed in regulation uniforms, there is less focus on fashion in the classroom and more focus on learning.

2. School Uniform Pro 2: Easier Mornings for Parents

When there’s no debate on what a student is allowed wear to school, then that makes mornings easier for parents and for kids. Everyone knows exactly what the kids need to wear, their regulated school uniform. This can lead to a decrease in morning arguments.

3. School Uniform Pro 3: Dress Code Control

Schools without a school uniform policy still have rules on what clothing is and is not allowed in school. There are usually rules regarding modesty issues, visible logos, offensive text on clothing, gang colors and symbols and more. Teachers and administrative staff must monitor the students’ attire. This is of course avoided when all students are in uniform.

4. School Uniform Pro 4: An Even Playing Field

One of the most obvious argument for school uniforms is that by having all children dressed the same, there is a decrease in bullying and teasing. In this era of status brands and high-fashion trends, clothing has become the definitive status symbol for children and teens. By evening the playing field with uniforms, there is less opportunity for children to be picked on or shunned for their clothes.

5. School Uniform Pro 5: School Spirit

Many experts believe that when the entire student body is dressed in uniforms, they develop a stronger team mentality. When they are all dressed alike, their all-for-one-and-one-for-all comradery is boosted.

6. School Uniform Pro 6: Simple Economics

Buying a few school uniforms instead of a new school wardrobe every fall is much more economical. School uniforms are designed to stand up to everyday wear and repeated washing so most parents find that they can get away with buying a few sets.

7. School Uniform Pro 7: Weekend Style

With all the money a parent saves by not having to buy day to day clothes, they can (if they so choose) let their children buy a few nicer and more fashionable pieces for weekends and evenings. Wearing a uniform five days a week might make students appreciate their weekend fashions more–maybe enough to even take good care of them!

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Any way you cut it, the implementation of uniforms at minimum at the high school level but preferably at both middle and high school grades is inarguably the best, most practical single step for improving overall performance without burdening taxpayers for more money. It should be done ASAP in Pittsfield. THE PLANET invites and encourages all candidates to examine this issue and make a push for this reasonable, long-overdue measure to be implemented. It’s a sure way to improve academic performance that will not only not cost more money but will actually end up in cost savings.

See “Dan’s Dictionary” under “N” for “No Brainer.”

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“The thrush on the bough is silent; the dew falls softly. / In the evening is hardly a sound. / And the three beautiful pilgrims who come here together / Tough lightly the dust on the ground.” 

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

20 Responses to “WHAT’S IN A NAME? ASK SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ABOUT ITS PC-STANCE ON ‘REDSKINS’ … plus SCHOOL UNIFORMS IS AN IDEA WHO TIME IS LONG OVERDUE IN THE PITTSFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS”

  1. Bull Durham
    September 19, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Couldn’t agree with you more on the Redskins issue, Dan. Not only is this act by SI ridiculous in its nature, but the desire to be PC in everything seems to be infectious, as noted some years ago when the MCLA Mohawks became the Trailblazers.

    That movement was entirely started by a single FORMER student who did not even graduate from MCLA who complained to the ever-PC athletic director that the name Mohawks was offensive to her (I say her, because a poll of students proved she had few allies). She claimed to be ‘part Native American,’ and in the end it was discovered she was about as Native American as Senator Elizabeth Warren, which is to say, pretty much not at all, and whatever ‘part’ she was, it was NOT Mohawk.

    MCLA contacted the Mohawk Nation, which specifically said it had no issue with the use of the name, as long as the logo was not altered, as they were fine with it as is. At the end of the day, the AD pushed this fiasco to its inevitable PC conclusion for one reason – because the college annually spent a lot of money on that logo and a new one with a new name would be easier to produce on t-shirts and sweats and mugs and make them more money in the process.

    Go Redskins, Go Indians, Go Braves, Go Warriors, Go Minutemen (added that as there was once an ill-fated attempt to claim Minutemen was somehow a racist name).

  2. Still wondering
    September 19, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    The objection to “Minutemen” was because it was a warlike name that glorified people who carried a gun.
    UMASS was all set to discontinue the use of “Minutemen” until the alumni and the general public objected.

    • Bull Durham
      September 19, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      Minuteman does not refer to people who are “glorified and carried a gun.” It refers to the ability of the Continental Militia to be ready in a minute to fight the British, and the alumni and general public were correct to object to the change. No matter the reason for the objections to the name – they were ridiculous.

      • Still wondering
        September 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

        We are well aware of that. The whole thing started when a student launched the effort as part of a class he was taking. Of course, the professor thought it was a great idea.

  3. dusty
    September 19, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    SI does not seem to have any objection to having a swimsuit issue showing almost naked woman. If the catholic church rose up and said they did not like it would SI stop publicizing it?

  4. Ron Kitterman
    September 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Weird isn’t it how BCC can enforce their no smoking rules and Pittsfield Public Schools can’t ? I also wonder how many cafeteria workers ( if that is the correct PC term ) PHS has, wouldn’t seem to me they would need that many since the noon time crowd pretty much vacates the school to grab a smoke and throw litter on the street.

    • Jim Gleason
      September 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      Yhey don’t have enough cafeteria workers at PHS. The powers that be cut them continually, along with custodians, so they can hire more Asst. Supt’s. at 90k to 100 k per year plus benefits.Uniforms are a horrible idea. If you want the exodus of children by school choice to double, try implementing that constrictive practice.

  5. MrG1188
    September 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    The data relative to the impact of uniforms on improved educational outcomes is really strong. Bring ‘em in for the second semester THIS school year! And not just in Pittsfield, but everywhere

  6. MrG1188
    September 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    And I’m sorry…but Braves, Mohawks, even Warriors are all OK. Redskins is not. That particular term is indeed derogatory and really should be eschewed. No one would ever name a team the Chinks, Kikes, Wops or N—ers. Redskins is a slur equivalent in its originally intended offensiveness and should be rethought.

  7. Evian
    September 19, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Have to agree with DV, Bull Durham etc on the name Redskins. It’s fine, has been around forever. Native Americans has continually not objected to the name, why should we? Wasn’t Boston’s first entry in the NFL the “redskins.”

    Uniforms for schools. Yes, my cousins two children go to a public school in Ohio that tried unifoprms last year. It brought great positive changes to the school. Grades up clothing issues down as was her bill for school clothes.

  8. Ron Kitterman
    September 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Great point Jimmy the pyramid is definitely inverted for sure.

  9. Joe Blow
    September 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I agree with uniforms for public schools. I went to Sacred Heart and Notre Dame School and wore the navy blue dress pants and light blue polo shirts for 8 years. I hated it at the time because most kids in my neighborhood went to public schools and would give me a hard time. I worked as a restaurant manager for a long time and part of my job was interviewing job seekers. I left that business but the last few years, I noticed young people coming in dressed like slobs and with visible piercings/tattoos and unkempt hair. I’m not against tats and have many but they can be covered when not appropriate. Almost every job I ever got the interviewer commented that I looked neat and clean. First impressions are everything and maybe uniforms would teach kids that.

    • danvalenti
      September 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      JOE B
      Good testimony here. Let’s also point out that most restaurants and many other places of employment have uniforms or a strictly enforced dress code. Kids will get used to the uniforms and then come to tolerate, favor, and even love them.

  10. tito
    September 19, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Yeah, McDonalds comes to mind.

  11. tito
    September 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    The red headed step child nobody wants to talk to. Vote Rick Latura Ward 3. please….for entertainment purposes.

  12. Evian
    September 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    I’m writing in Dan Valenti for mayor.

  13. Giacometti
    September 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Before sports teams go and change their names for political correctness why can’t women enjoy being called ” women ”
    by the majority of the male society instead of ” chicks “…” babes”
    ” dolls ” or “arm candy”…after all they do make up a majority of
    our society…a society which is unfortunatley male dominated.

  14. Dennis O'Keefe
    September 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Dan,

    If you’re going to make a suggestion about educational changes, I suggest you spell the titles and subtitles to your articles correctly.

    It is not “An Idea Who [sic] Time is Long Overdue.” Rather, it is “An Idea Whose Time is Long Overdue.”

    And, you wrote “you must be knew [sic] to these parts,” instead of: “you must be new to these parts.”

    These errors, coupled with your desperately one-sided approach to the Redskins issue, bespeaks of a laziness in your writing and analysis. For example, even a basic etymological review of the word “redskin” shows that it’s long been used as a racial epithet to denote a native american as dishonest and dirty. So, while you may think the issue ridiculous, there is a valid point of view about retiring the name that you all too smugly and arrogantly dismiss.

    • danvalenti
      September 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      You passed our editing test. It only gets harder from this point forward. By the way, they are “headlines” and “subheads,” not titles. You use the word “etymological.” We are impressed, but, what, you left out “cultural zeitgeist.” How could that be. Go Redskins.

  15. Florence Fischer
    September 26, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    Several Pinellas County schools are restricting or banning their own cheerleading uniforms during classroom hours amid a broader crackdown on the student dress code. In past years, administrators turned a blind eye during football season to the cheerleaders’ sleeveless uniforms with short skirts.