Controversy Arises over Saggy Pants in School

Chicago City Council is considering a ban on saggy pants and any "gangster-style" clothing at Chicago Public Schools. Led by Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), several aldermen are pushing a resolution that would ban this type of clothing.

Chicago Tonight spoke with local high school teachers and parents to get their reaction to saggy pants and dress codes at CPS. Here's what they had to say:

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Jessica Marshall, CPS high school teacher:

"I personally think this is a diversion from real solutions to some of the problems our students are facing. Rather than spending time debating and enforcing these dress code policies, I'd rather see more investment in our schools in terms of social/emotional supports from students who are under a tremendous amount of stress (economic, family-based, violence in the community, etc.)

If the problem is student behavior in schools, I don't think harassing them about their pants will do anything but further alienate them from school, a place where many already don't feel welcome or particularly enthusiastic about attending.

In general, if we say (and both CPS administration and many teachers agree) that restorative justice models should be adopted, then criminalizing a kid for expressing their fashion sense isn't going to invest them any more in their community.

I'd like the aldermen to debate how to address the violence epidemic sweeping the city and our children who are being killed. Let's talk about supporting peer mediation and less punitive measures in schools as a way to help kids not just be punished for behavior, but help teach them how to respond appropriately and learn conflict resolution strategies that will help them for the rest of their lives."

Gina Ercoli, parent of CPS student:

"I don't personally understand the concept of saggy pants, but since I've been exposed to that trend for so long, I don't always notice them unless I'm really paying attention. I think in some cases they can be a distraction just like any other fashion trend. I don't know that voting on this topic is the best use of their [City Council’s] time and concern.

I believe the CPS dress code is good enough. They need to do a better job of enforcing the current dress code before adding on to it.

I believe the way we dress, especially teens, is an expression of who we/they are. I believe they should be able to express themselves within reason, and we should only address it when it's considered provocative or offensive (verbally, sexually, racially, religiously, etc.) I wouldn't say I'm too concerned about stricter dress codes because, in my case, my daughter dresses pretty simple."

Meredith Bawden, CPS high school teacher:

"My opinion about banning saggy pants in school is that we should NOT have a ban. I don’t think it’s that big of a problem. We have a school uniform. Kids are asked not to sag their pants. Girls can’t wear shorts above their knees in the summer, and boys who sag their pants have to pull them up. I don’t see it as an issue.

My rule in the classroom, and in our school, is if I can see your underwear, your pants are too low, and they are very respectful of that. You say, 'please pull them up' and it’s not a problem.

I don’t see it in any way infringing upon learning, and I don’t think it’s the school’s place to tell kids how they can wear their clothes, or what their fashion ought to be."

Watch Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm for more on the "saggy pants" debate.

What are your thoughts about saggy pants in school? Should CPS enforce a stricter dress code? Post your comments below or sound off on our discussion board!

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