“School should ditch the hair rules and let the kids embrace their heritage” – Eva Simpson
After a stint at her son’s school, Eva Simpson knows all too well how disconnected guidelines can be. And she applauds the manager of St Albans tearing up the rules
Image: Getty Images)
Like most parents on their child’s first day of high school, I was filled with immense pride.
My son looked so dapper in his new uniform – blazer, tie, shirt, sparkly shoes. I took lots of photos to show my family and friends.
When we arrived at school, a teacher pointed at my son and shouted, “Can this boy’s parent come see me?”
I walked forward proudly. I didn’t expect to be singled out for my son’s beauty and intelligence on his first day at high school.
“Hello,” said the professor. “I’m just wondering if you’ve read the school’s hair policy?” Your son’s haircut contradicts this.
I was stunned. Violation. What was he talking about?
My son had a perfectly normal haircut, the one he had throughout elementary school. A short harvest, similar to that raised by US President Barack Obama.
But as far as school goes, it was an “extreme” haircut because it wasn’t a number four or so. In other words, it was too short. I’m not going to lie, I was so upset I was on the verge of tears.
Of course, in typical British fashion, I apologized profusely and assured him that this would not happen again. But I was fuming. It immediately created a division when there was no need for it and left a very bad taste.
There have been too many incidents where black children have been penalized for hair “transgressions”. So I was encouraged to read the story of St Albans headmistress Julie Richardson who ripped up the school’s hair rule book and threw it out the window.
Now kids can come in with cornrows, afros, short hair, whatever, without being isolated and missing out on valuable teaching time.
Too many one-size-fits-all hair policies are ridiculous. They ignore the cultural heritage of children. Black school girls, for example, have sometimes been banned from having braids because they are classed as hair extensions, even though they are neat and mean the child can get ready for school much faster.
This fosters resentment, all to the detriment of the child.
Part of the problem is the lack of diversity among principals. It’s a closed store. Many schools, especially those with large numbers of black students, have virtually no black representation on the board and that needs to change.
So I applaud Ms. Richardson. I hope that other schools are inspired by his book.