Today in PC: School Bans Pricey Coats so Poor Students Feel OK

Let’s pretend for a minute that everybody makes the same amount of money, and that everybody can afford the same things. For that matter, let’s just pretend to live in a world where money doesn’t exist.

That Mercedes idling in your peripheral as you sit in your rusted-out Honda Civic at the red light? Not there.

Those billionaires sailing their yachts across the Mediterranean with a baker’s dozen of gorgeous models lathered in hundred-dollar bronzing oil? Not real.

Rich kids of Instagram….more like financially ambiguous kids of Instagram!

So, for all of you reading who aren’t satisfied with your current financial lot in life, I have a question: do you feel any better? Has pretending for a moment altered your reality in the slightest?

If your answer is no – and your answer is almost certainly no – then you would probably not qualify for an administrative position at Woodchurch High School in Birkhenhead, Great Britain. Because, at Woodchurch, the administration apparently believes that a heavy dose of pretending has the potential to alter students’ realities. They seemingly endorse the idea that, if poor students are simply not faced with reminders of what they already know to be true, they will be freed from all conceptions of inequality and the stigmas that arise from differences in family income.

Earlier this month, parents of children attending Woodchurch received a letter detailing a new policy:

"Pupils will not be permitted to bring in Canadian [sic] Goose and Monclair [sic] coats after the Christmas break, the letter reads. "Some have also asked whether Pyrenex coats, which are also in a similar price range (with some also having real fur) will also be prohibited," it adds, before confirming "that these brands will also be prohibited after Christmas." (Reason)

And you thought your school’s dress code was strict!

No longer are school administrators, already known as a meddling lot, content to dictate how far above the knee a skirt is permitted to fall. No longer are untucked shirts and other signs of undisciplined dress the primary focus of dress code sticklers. Apparently, the policymakers at Woodchurch High believe they are qualified to take on the global struggle over the effects of inequality…

One designer jacket at a time.

Apparently, these administrators aren’t of the school of thought that tells us that what has been seen cannot be unseen. Unless they are in possession of some kind of Men in Black-like memory-wiping device, then it is a wonder what they could be thinking. The schoolchildren have been wearing designer jackets to school. Those who can’t afford designer jackets know that other children are able to afford them. They know this. And yet, headmaster Rebekah Phillips apparently believes that the jacket ban will cure any lingering feelings of inadequacy among the less well-to-do segments of the student body.

‘“We are very concerned about the fact that our children put a lot of pressure on parents to buy them expensive coats,” she said.

Pupils were attending classes in coats that cost up to £700, she said, adding “a lot of parents at our school cannot afford that”.

Those pupils who did not have expensive outerwear were upset, she continued. “They feel stigmatised, they feel left out, they feel inadequate,” she said.’ (The Independent)

Uh, Rebekah? You do know that the students are still going to go home at the end of the school day, don’t you? You are aware that some will be picked up from school in a just-bought BMW, while others will be forced to ride in used clunkers? And that some children will return to multi-story mansions, while others will be headed back to single-bedroom, cramped, dingy flats?

Or, are they supposed to wish those realities away, too?

Perhaps Woodchurch will come up with a new policy, following their line of logic to its rational conclusion. Here’s how such a policy might look:

  1. No student or parent shall drive a vehicle with a price greater than $5,000, and all logos must be removed from vehicles to avoid any feelings of inadequacy that may arise from brand associations.
  2. No student shall eat a lunch that is any more expensive than a bologna sandwich, the threshold level which the most impoverished students at Woodchurch might afford.
  3. No displays of athleticism must be any more fluid or graceful than the least athletic student’s feckless jaunts, because this might lead to some form of stigma.
  4. Academic achievement, which also could lead to feelings of inadequacy, must not be striving. All students must adjust their performance to match that of the lowest-achieving student in the class.

Surely, these are rules that Rebekah Phillips and her colleagues can get behind. After all, the virtue of preventing feelings of inadequacy by eliminating all conceptions of better and worse, more or less expensive, and inequality altogether is apparent. The virtue is in pretending.

So what if Woodchurch High is unwittingly embracing the logic of Soviet Russia? It’s 2018, and if feelings of inadequacy and inequality can be eliminated through the shunning of material signs of varying expense, then we must follow this line of thinking to its final resting point.

To the gulags with all designer coat-wearing dissidents! Huzzah!

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