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No Tattooed Teachers Allowed!

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Is this OK?

A teacher in Ogden, Utah, may lose his job if he decides not to cover his arm tattoos. A new district-wide dress code for teachers says all tattoos must be covered up at all times, reports FOX 13.

English teacher Mark Johnson says this is going too far. His tattoos of his kids' names and wife's initials aren't offensive to anyone, he says. He doesn't want to get fired -- but he also wants to stand up for what he believes in.

Check out Mark's tats here:

Donna Corby, a spokeswoman for the school district, says: "So we decided that teaching is a career, teaching is a profession, and we want to set a professional standard so that our students will look at their teachers and say, 'Yes, they are a professional and yes, I could be a teacher, and I would love to have education as my career for thirty years.'"

Say what?

Wouldn't a high-school student relate better with a tattooed teacher, anyway?

These guidelines seem seriously misguided (and outdated) to us. What do you think?


next: Study: Girls Closing the Math Gap
13 comments so far | Post a comment now
b March 17, 2010, 12:13 PM

since when did displaying body art become a civil liberty? if it’s not religiously required or the numbers inscribed on the jews against their will during the holocaust, i see no reason why the district setting a dress standard for teachers should exclude him just because he decided to express his love and devotion on his arm. Each choice we make has consequences, and some consequences cause us to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced, but that doesn’t change the fact that our choices have consequences. We can’t expect the rest of the world to remove those consequences just because they don’t suit you. Is only ok because it’s letters and hearts? What if it were pinup girls, curse words, gang insignia? Would it be wrong then? And if so, where’s the line of what’s ok and what’s not, and who gets to decide where the line is? I’m with the school board, it’s completely respectable to require teachers to dress like the professionals they are (and not the best friends to our students that MomLogic apparently thinks they should be), er on the side of dignity and set standards for the district. They’re not saying he can’t be a teacher, they’re only saying that if he wants to teach in that district, these are the standards that he will be expected to maintain. He is free to comply, he is free, to move to another district, he is free to try a whole new career. We expect students to comply with dress standards, why should it be different for teachers?

OgdenMom March 17, 2010, 12:48 PM

I absolutely disagree with “b”’s comment. The teacher was hired with his tattoos and not on the basis of his tattoos, yet on the basis of his ability to provide excellent instruction to the children, which he as done for over a decade. His body art has no bearing on the quality of his instruction.

Teachers are expected to encourage creative thought, promote diversity and prepare our children for independence, yet decisions like this are hypocritical in every sense of the word.

Teachers need not be best friends to students as you suggest; however, a good teacher will connect with his students in order to get the most out of them rather than instruct as a dictator.

As a parent of a young child, I’m not concerned about the clothes my teachers wear, the color of their skin, the way they shape their hair or the art they have on their body, as long as it is non-offensive. I’m concerned that my teachers are instilling the knowledge and passion that they have to offer.

It takes an amazing person to be a teacher and we can’t afford to lose amazing teachers to frivolous rules such as this. I’m sure with his passion he could find a new career, but he chooses to teach, because that’s what he loves.

Should we really be challenging amazing teachers to find new careers? Who does that hurt - our children - not a brilliant idea!


Jen Mathews March 17, 2010, 12:50 PM

I think it’s stupid, but that not that surprising. Unless you work for a dot com or a coffee shop, you will probably be asked to cover your tats. I don’t think this will be the case 10 (heck maybe even 5) years from now.

Lisa March 17, 2010, 1:08 PM

My boys have a preschool teacher who has wrist tattoos and five or six piercings in each ear. I wouldn’t trade her for the world as my boys are thriving under her expertise and care. So many teachers are now struggling just to make it to the end of the day and here is someone who loves what he is doing and he’s being punished? What happened to teaching tolerance? Shame on them.

gregg March 17, 2010, 1:10 PM

I agree with Ogdenmom,

The teacher was Hired with the Tattoos, did the human resources not see them then? He has been instructing for over 30 years why are they having such a problem with it now? Why don’t they grandfather him in. Let him stay, and have the rules apply to all NEW hires.

Stef March 17, 2010, 8:12 PM

It’s about being a professional. Unless the person is a tattoo artist, a professional will cover up their tattoos if they have any on their person. My mother is a teacher, and they have to cover any up. My father is in the US Navy, and all tattoos have to be above the sleeve line, and if they had any prior that are below, a special sanction has to be given. Granted this has only been instated the last five-six years, however the Navy felt the sailors need to look as professional as they are trained. You don’t see many people in specialized fields with tattoos everywhere. It’s about respecting what you do, and for whom you work. They are firing him for having tattoos, they just want them out of view.

michelle March 17, 2010, 9:32 PM

This teacher is free to show his tattoos on his own time, but he does not have an absolute right to that kind of self-expression in a professional workplace. That is what a visible tattoo is — self-expression. But having said that, the standard for hiring and firing teachers must begin and end with the quality of their instruction. If he’s a good teacher, IGNORE THE TATTOOS. I can’t believe that so many school districts would fire a teacher over visible tattoos, but they can’t fire a teacher for being unqualified to teach children. There is a huge achievement crisis in America, with awful teachers everywhere, and yet look what our school districts busy themselves with.

Liliana March 24, 2010, 1:10 PM

It’s a tattoo of his wife and children’s names; not a naked pin up model. There are far worse things to be concerned about within the school system.

physician assistant April 4, 2010, 4:22 PM

Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

Anonymous April 5, 2010, 5:59 PM

That’s ridiculous…I don’t understand why people have sych big issues with a little ink on the skin…I could understand if it was something inapprpriate, but his wife and kids names? really? people do you have nothing else to do with your lives? I have a tattoo and I’m only 14…nobody thinks it wrong, at least not the people around me. It’s on my lower back so its abviuosly covered unless i wear a bikini…tattoos are harmless…people assume if you have tattoos you are a bad person. I’m a straight A student, have nice friends, I’m a nice person and I definately don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. My mom has 6 tattoos but is a smart, kind, and loving person. People need to relax and find something to do with their lives besides complain.

Anonymous June 4, 2010, 11:36 PM

If this was reversed, a teenager with an non-offensive tattoo and a teacher asked them to cover it up, the teacher would be in trouble because parents would be screaming bloody murder over the child’s freedom of speech and creative expression etc etc. Only in Utah would uncovered tattoo’s be a problem, I teach here and I also think that he is having problems because he’s a guy. I know plenty of women in my school with tats that show and they never hear jack about them.

vickie August 29, 2010, 7:58 AM

No tattoos? Then:
No pierced ears.
No make-up.
No teacher living with another adult without the sanctity of marriage.
No homosexual teachers.
No female teachers may wear pants.
No single female teacher allowed out after dark unescorted.
All teachers MUST attend church services regularly.
No smoking or drinking.

C’mon. And we’re supposed to teach students to accept diversity? What you’ll find with all these tightening guidelines will soon be fewer and fewer people bothering to get a degree in education. It makes me want to get out of teaching altogether and do something else.

Anonymous February 23, 2011, 9:23 PM

I’ve been researching tattoos on teachers because I am two years away from earning my degree and license, but I want to get a tattoo on my forearm of a nightingale and a rose (literary symbols; I will be teaching English in high school). I want it n my forearm so that I can see it, in fact, it will be upside down to everyone else. I have an appointment to get it done in a few weeks. From what I found it’s about 50-50 on people against or for the idea of teachers with visible tattoos. 50-50 may sound good but that means 50% of the faculty and parents will be against it (students I believe won’t have a problem with it). For those of you against it, does a bird and a rose as literary symbols on the forearm of a high school English teacher truly offend you and impair my teaching ability?


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