By Chip Rowe

I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately, which may be a mid-life crisis, or an early late-life crisis but most likely is the general crisis that began when I hit puberty. Regardless, I found solace this week in an unlikely place: Haldane’s code of conduct. Although I will have two children at the high school beginning next month, I had never bothered to read closely what is expected of them. I figured that with my advanced parenting skills, they know better.

The Haldane code, at 53 pages, is comprehensive and details the rules for students, teachers and administrators. It has been revised slightly and the changes will be open for public comment next week. Reading through the current code, I was struck by two things: (1) how much work it must take to contemplate every possible way a school day can go wrong (thank you, code committee), and (2) the amount of wisdom the manual contains that comes from experience, not book learning.

That’s understandable, if you consider how a manual like this evolves. Typically, I imagine, an administrator sees something that should not be happening and shoots off a memo: “Add to code: No fireworks.” After many years of that, you have a document without many loopholes.

Here are some of the simple truths gleaned from the code that inspired me (in most cases, paraphrased):

  • A parent’s job is to get a child ready to participate and learn.
  • Do not judge others by their race, skin color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religious practices, disabilities, sexual orientation or gender. If you can’t do that because it’s the best way to live, do it to avoid getting sued.
  • Regularly review your educational progress and career plans.
  • Do not wear clothing that is see-through from the mid-thigh to the top of the chest, make sure your clothing covers your underwear, and always wear shoes for safety.
  • Do not record anyone on your phone without permission.
  • The best discipline is self-imposed.
  • Only one person should be in a bathroom stall at one time.
  • Don’t drive with people on the hood of your car, or hanging out the window.
  • No one wants to watch you make out, but handholding is OK.
  • Burn rubber on your own time.
  • It’s unwise, if you receive detention for skipping something, to also skip the detention.
  • No loitering, but also, no running.
  • The best way to learn is to show up.

Behind The Story

Type: Opinion

Opinion: Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

A former longtime national magazine editor, Rowe has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Idaho and South Dakota and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University. Location: Philipstown. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.

2 replies on “Editor’s Notebook: My Code of Conduct”

  1. The list of those who should not be discriminated against, according to the Haldane Code of Conduct, does not include the aged. Is this an oversight on your part or an omission by the school district? In any case, it should be corrected.

    1. Although not mentioned in the Haldane code, which focuses on the relationships between teachers, staff and students, state education and labor law prohibits schools from discriminating against anyone or allowing anyone to be harassed because of his or her age, as well as military or marital status.

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