Today is apparently dress-code day at the daily, with two arguments for the notion that I should be fired because I gave up on wearing a tie, and one against.
Here's what I learned all those years ago when I gave up on wearing a tie to teach: The rapport I develop with students is about a billionty times more critical to the learning environment than how I dress. If a kid is going to call me an m-fer (and that seldom happens), he won't think better of it because I'm wearing a tie. I never did quantitative double-blind research, but experientially I couldn't tell the difference between tie days and not. So I dress in a way that makes me comfortable in my classroom and lets me worry about what, how, and whether students are learning.
I once had a younger teacher tell me why wore his suit and tie to work every day. "This is my uniform, my armor," he said. I didn't say back, but thought it, "And just who the hell do you think you're coming to school to fight?" He doesn't teach anymore.
UPDATED TO ADD: Surprisingly, this is proving quite contentious among the Journal-Sentinel commenterati. There is a strong contingent that believes we teachers should shut up and take our medicine because we all only care about money, as evidenced by our designer clothes and expensive personal grooming. On the other side, there is a contingent that believes we should shut up and take our medicine because we're all a bunch of hippie slobs. I hope it doesn't come to blows!