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You can have her Uggs when you pry them from her cold feet

Your Uggs or your cellphone?

If you are a teenage student at Pottstown Middle School near Philadelphia, the correct answer is, sadly, "neither."

That's because the school's principal on Monday instituted a policy banning the ubiquitous fur-lined boots. Why?  Because, says Principal Gail M. Cooper, students use them to hide cellphones  and other gadgets that aren't supposed to be brought to class.

Oh my. Get ready for the, well, the fur to fly.

As any parent of a teenager today knows, you don't mess with their cellphones. Nor do you question their fashion choices.

Do both and let's just say that -- in education speak -- the learning environment just froze over.

Now, it's not that the Pottstown principal doesn't have any other problems to deal with. In fact, she probably has far more than she can handle.

If you want to know what real-world classrooms are like today, read The Times' Sunday Opinion article, "An L.A. teacher reviews her review."  Here's an excerpt:

On a recent Wednesday, my second-period class was interrupted by a student who overdosed on alcohol and Ecstasy and nearly died. Earlier in the year, one of our students was shot in the face and hospitalized. Last year, a student was shot in the neck and paralyzed for life; one of my students was standing next to him when it happened. The year before that, one of my students was inside her house when her sister, sitting in a car outside, was shot and blinded in one eye in a gang drive-by. The baby she was holding was struck by a bullet and killed.

Honestly, why anyone wants to be a teacher today is beyond me.

That aside, though, the Uggs edict is silly. It strikes me as another salvo in a dress-code war that's been going on for generations.  

In my day, for example (and yes, this was a while ago), the girls in high school fought for the right to wear jeans instead of dresses.

Sure, the Pottstown rule is aimed at cellphones and the like, but the effect isn't much different. Only girls wear Uggs; isn't the rule as sexist as forbidding girls to wear jeans but not boys?

Besides, trying to separate today's teens from their cellphones is a lost cause. You might as well cut off their thumbs.

The Pottstown school already has a rule that students who bring cellphones to school must leave them in their lockers and keep them turned off until the school day ends.

That's sensible. So if a student violates it so blatantly that a teacher notices, then it's bye-bye phone.

But let's leave the Uggs alone.

After all, their popularity is sure to fade. Don't believe me? Well, when's the last time you saw someone wearing bell-bottoms?


How to grade a teacher

Pushing past mediocrity in the classroom

When art and politics collided in Los Angeles 

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo credit: Ugg / Handout


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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