Are lockers in middle school a rite of passage?
Just when you thought a student’s life couldn’t be more competitive, locker decor has become a thriving business. Stores across the country carry miniature rugs, wallpaper, chandeliers and flowers for an 11 year-old’s locker.
Most students will tell you that the main difference between being a “baby” in elementary school and moving on to middle school is the privacy in getting your own locker and going from class-to-class instead of spending the day in one classroom. These are significant events in a tween’s life. However, the writing is on the wall. Will the Fourth Amendment protection against an unreasonable search or seizure cover a closet or storage bin inside a student’s locker? Will there be a T.L.O. v. New Jersey II or will drug-sniffing canines have to be retrained to sniff out miniature contraband?
It is probably a good thing that a school locker isn’t a constitutionally protected rite of passage. Many schools have done away with them altogether in the interest of safety and crime prevention. Law enforcement and the courts are busy enough with legitimate search warrants without having to check a child’s at-school playhouse.
A debate has begun over the social and psychological issues stemming from this decorating trend. Uniforms in public school are seen as an effort to blur divisions between rich and poor. Will a student who can’t afford to outfit their locker like the one next door feel less than equal? What about being judged by your peers on another level–your design skills. Is this necessary? What happened to the inside of a locker displaying a photo of your latest crush, a Hollywood hunk or school decals? Tweens and teens have enough to deal with without adding another layer of contention. Let’s hope this trend is short-lived.