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'Dressing for Success' Works The Other Way, Too

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Parents of students at San Pasqual High School in Escondido, Calif., are protesting a school policy that they say causes the students to be, as Swinburne put it, "clothed in derision."

At the school, students who excel on a state physical-education examination wear red gym shorts, students who perform above average wear green, black, or gold shorts (in descending order), and the poorest performers wear blue shorts.

Some parents complained to the local school board that the practice gives blue-clad students low self-esteem and violates the California Education Code, which prohibits making students' grades public.

Robert Woodhouse, chairman of the physical-education department, defended the system. "For some, it is easier to tear down the standards than to improve yourself to meet the criteria," he said. "Some people cannot accept the challenge. But I am not in favor of lowering standards to meet mediocrity."

Mr. Woodhouse said the color of the shorts does not reveal a student's grade, because many "blue shorts" earn A's on the basis of attitude and improvement.

The school board voted unanimously to continue the practice.

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