They cynical might call it a ploy by a black legislator to build street cred with white voters for a future race for higher office. Rep. Tracy Steele of North Little Rock undoubtedly would beg to differ.
Steele said on Broadway Joe's popular radio program on Power 92 this morning that he planned such legislation. (Atlanta is among other cities where this idea has reared its head.) He hasn't filed the bill yet, or much of anything else of legislative substance for that matter. And he hasn't returned a message from me about it yet. The idea drew some comment on Broadway Joe's Facebook page.
Steele, who is in his last term as a legislator, is rumored to be considering a race for North Little Rock mayor. He's also expressed interest in the past in seeking a seat in Congress.
Let's leave Steele's historic opportunism and racial politics out of it. Do we really want the state legislature setting specific portions of school dress codes? The schools generally handle dress codes reasonably well — too well, in fact, when it comes to T-shirt messages and the like. The legislature has better things to do.
PS — Gen. Larry Pratt probably could be encouraged to testify in committee for this legislation.
UPDATE: Steele urges that I hold my fire until I see the specific language of his bill. He notes that legislators have previously required parental approval for tattoos and piercing for those under 18. Yes, but that's not meddling in school policy and enforcement. He remarked to my point that there are all sorts of unaesthetic clothing styles to address:
Also I have no intentions of addressing kids who wear baggy pants or raggedy pants you know that's quite different from intentionally wearing pants so low it clearly exposes their underwear. By the way 75% of the people on the power people poll agreed that something should be done.
I'm going to take some convincing that this issue rises to the level of legislative consideration for any reason other than raw political gain.
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