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So with the opening of school, are kids thinking about RttT, posting teachers' test scores, Edujobs, or Arnie Duncan (Arnie who?).  

Well, I am leafing through the 4 pounds of flyers that came in Sunday’s paper.  Three and a half pounds of them are for back-to-school sales; the rest are Labor Day sales (which are really back-to-school sales too).

The kids in the flyers are happy, smiling, excited about going back to school with their new clothes.  They are wearing earphones or tossing a football or just hanging with their friends.  There is a mix of races, sizes, hairstyles.  It’s all good.

Yesterday I went to the huge outlet mall.  Let me tell you, it was not a live version of the tableaus found in the flyers.  Younger kids were whining because their shoes didn’t light up.  Older kids wanted to pick out their own things without their mother.  Dads just wanted to find a bench to sit on.  Moms were telling their kids that they didn’t NEED $85 sneakers. 

The first day of school can be traumatic for kids in terms of clothes, which is why many kids prefer not to buy a lot of stuff until they actually get to school and see who’s wearing what.  This is actually a great idea and will save parents a lot of grief.  Unfortunately, the sales are NOW!  It won’t be BOGO forever!

One year a local television station asked me to meet a reporter and cameraman at the mall.  The reporter would interview me as we walked through stores and talked about appropriate school attire.  The report would be broadcast at 6 and 11 (and, as it turned out, the following day as well on the morning show).

Why not? I thought.  So I did a segment for the news about how bare midriffs were inappropriate, “wife beaters” were inappropriate, chains that could double as weapons were inappropriate, etc.   Retailers were happy that I stayed away from commenting on what WAS appropriate so that I didn’t inadvertently give some of their fashions the kiss of death.

It was a creative idea, but not one you would call effective, and many of my colleagues asked me later if I was employed by the mall to do commercials.  So I watched the high school principal meet with each class on opening day and remind them again about the dress code.  They were polite but didn’t hear a word he said either.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.