Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Uniform Uniformity

Yes, the title of this is redundant and meaningless, but so is the uniform policy that was just implemented in our school district. Just when I thought our school district had reached the pillar of stupid decisions, they went and did this. Here are some of their arguments for, and my rebuttals:

FOR: Uniforms create a "dress for success" attitude.
AGAINST: As my neighbor always says, "Success for what, a job at Taco Bell?"

FOR: Uniforms keep kids dressed appropriately.
AGAINST: If you were concerned about kids dressing appropriately, then why didn't you enforce the old dress policy?

FOR: Uniforms create unity.
AGAINST: Uniforms suppress creativity and the expression of individuality in dress.

FOR: Uniforms identify that the students belong to our school. (Sounds dumb, but I've actually heard this.)
AGAINST: So, no one else in the city has a black shirt available to them?

FOR: It keeps from having gang clothing at school.
AGAINST: The school already had policies prohibiting any gang related clothing. And what is to keep a parent of a gang member from opting their child out?
AGAINST: This will impact lower income families who have to go out and buy uniform clothing.
AGAINST: This will impact retail in our city who will lose money because children are only wearing uniforms to school, not popular clothing.
AGAINST: It puts more stress on teachers, and the enforcement of the rules takes more time away from teaching.

I should probably outline our policy here so you understand.
Students can wear jeans, but their underwear can't show, and they can't sag their pants. (Those last two parts were always part of the policy, but weren't enforced.) The shirt must be any shirt that is solid colored, gray, teal, or black.
Students must wear "Docker-type" pants or shorts, (girls can wear skirts), solid colored button front with collar shirts. (polo or button down) They can wear the school colors of gray, purple, or black. The only t-shirts allowed are "spirit wear" that they buy from the school.

I noticed that most kids at my son's middle school were actually wearing khaki colored pants, even though that color was not listed in the information.
It was interesting to see some of the students' reactions. One neighbor boy decided he wasn't going to comply on the first day, and tried to rally support on facebook among his friends. One of my neighbors is a teacher at the high school, and she said that she spent half of her class time dealing with offenders of the policy. I was told that the first period teacher must write up any student not in compliance, and then if the second period teacher finds a student not wearing the uniform, then the first period teacher gets in trouble. You can opt out your child, but my understanding is that you must present your case to the school board, and to the Principal. I might just do it to bog down the system to show how stupid this all is. When I took my son to school on the first day of uniforms (this past Monday), I noticed a group of girls walking very closely together. None of them were dressed in uniform, and they looked like they were creating a "united front" to challenge the system. :)

The school board made this decision for the entire school district. I am not happy with our school board, and I am not happy with this decision. I'm not opting out my younger child because he still has several years left. If the high school had chosen a more strict uniform policy I would have opted out my child who is a senior. But he has plenty of black, gray and teal t-shirts, so it won't really affect us. I won't have to buy uniforms for him. But I have to admit, I'm thinking seriously about seeing if I can get permission to transfer my middle school child to a Brentwood school when he starts high school. I really want out of this school district.


Nene said...

I agree with you that I think that uniforms are just a school (or schoolboard's) lazy way of just enforcing dress codes. Most of our middle schools here have uniforms and the elementary are slowly all changing over. Only the high schools don't have uniforms yet, but I'm sure that's not far behind.

Looney said...

But kids in uniforms look cute!

I am neutral, but my kids did wear uniforms when we lived in Japan.