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Schools should teach right from thong

OK, so maybe I was wrong. Judging from the response to my recent column, "No uniform solution to crack problem," maybe we do need school uniforms. But not for students. For teachers.

Consider an e-mail from a local Girl Scout volunteer. She wrote to say that when the girls were choosing a topic recently for their essay merit badge, they decided to write about something to which they had all been exposed repeatedly: their elementary school teacher's thong.

Seems the teacher has a fondness for this particular style of undergarment, especially worn in tandem with low-rise jeans. Evidently, she owns them in a variety of colors, too, a piece of information that is readily available to her students each time she bends over. And, according to the Scouts, she bends over a lot.

One teacher's pathology aside, this e-mail raises a much broader question: Before we worry about whether students are dressing appropriately, shouldn't we make sure teachers are setting a good example?

Right now, the Gwinnett County School Board's entire dress code for teachers consists of a single policy statement: "The expectation of the Board is that all staff members dress in a professional manner." In all fairness to the teacher mentioned above, the policy does not specify which profession.

Of course, the problem of young female teachers' dressing and behaving provocatively is an old one indeed, predating Mary Kay Letourneau by at least a hundred years. School board policies from the 1800s, for example, warned young teachers not to display their ankles. I don't believe the word "thong" had been invented yet.

But it's not just young female teachers who should pay closer attention to their attire. Requiring teachers to wear uniforms - something that would cover both the ankles and other, less mentionable body parts - would eliminate a number of sartorial faux pas, such as:

•Polyester coaching shorts. If uniforms for teachers become a reality, no child will ever again have to be exposed to the sight of some middle-aged, paunchy football coach's hairy thighs.

• Festive holiday garments. For a grown man to wear a tie depicting Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer should be against the law, or at least a violation of any civilized dress code.

• Stirrup pants. That these have been out of style since 1994, combined with the fact that they never looked good on anyone over 11 years old anyway, should eliminate them from the approved wardrobe.

I know teachers won't exactly be thrilled at the idea of having to wear uniforms, but they must understand that the school board just has their best interests at heart. Besides, once board members have made up their minds, they don't want to hear arguments about personal dignity and individual freedom.

As far as they're concerned, it's just the same old thong and dance.

E-mail Rob Jenkins at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.