Walter Pierce

re: The Hoodie Dilemma

by Walter Pierce

Bridging the divide between students & the school board isn’t as hard as you might think I was a little deflated last week when the Lafayette Parish School Board failed to consult me before deciding by a 7-2 vote not to reconsider its ban on hoodies. Evidently, the considerable stature I enjoy as Mr. Fix It doesn’t extend much beyond my person, but I could have helped. I would have helped. The solution is simple: Allow hoodies, but require that they be worn backwards.
The point of the ban, according to school board logic (oxymoron?), is that students were using the hoods to conceal ear phone buds for their music players and were hiding their hands in the front pockets to send guerilla text messages. Indeed, admits a sophomore with whom I share a dish washer in the kitchen at home, many students abused the policy about keeping their phones powered down during school hours and the number of disciplinary cases would have been much higher had teachers sent every kid caught texting to the office, rather than simply directing them to turn off the phone and put it away. Teachers, it seems, simply didn’t have time to turn every texting infraction into an inquisition, being busy as they are educating our plugged-in progeny.
The de-hooded hoi polloi meanwhile gripe that classrooms are cold; they need their hoodies to ward off hypothermia. But a teacher with whom I share a junk drawer in the kitchen at home makes a keen observation: Kids are attentive in a cold room; their heads loll to the same degree the temperature rises. That, in part, is why teachers knock the thermostat down to 63 — to keep students alert, and to ameliorate those menopausal hot flashes.
The ban also introduces a social conundrum that, during the hoodie’s brief but illustrious campus career, was kept in a state of recess: Without the garments delineating the band from the football team from the track squad from the chess club, how will the delicate balance of geek and jock be maintained in the cafeteria? It will not. Chaos will ensue. The wedgie rate will rise.
Parents and students have also complained — rightfully so — that the prohibition, rendered just days before the start of the school year, forces a sizeable number of families to purchase replacement jackets and leaves some schools, which sold mascot-emblazoned hoodies to raise funds, with a supply for which there is no longer a demand.
My solution, you will agree, is superior. Allowing hoodies, but only if worn backwards, addresses every element of this quandary satisfactorily: To hide the iPhone’s ear buds students would have to wear the hood over their faces, and they would be forced to place their hands behind their backs to use the pocket for texting. In both cases, violations of school policy would be obvious. At the same time, students could stay warm in class, display the branding of their cliques, save their parents some money and raise cash for their schools. That is, in the parlance of extreme chiché, a win-win-win-win-win scenario.
As for the ban on phones, the curmudgeon that is creeping into my personality as I slip kicking and screaming into middle age observes that when I was in high school cell phones didn’t exist and personal music devices had just been invented, played cassette tapes and were the size of a barbecue pit. If we needed the phone we went to the office with our bad haircuts and terry cloth shirts and we liked it that way.
In parting I’ll throw in this freebie on dealing with mold in our schools: Get over it — this is Louisiana.