(this piece was mailed to me today, it's the school's way of justifying taking away yet MORE choices the children have in what they can wear)
Uniform Program Rationale
"X" Middle School has implemented a uniform program for the following reasons:
- Campus Safety and Security: a uniform helps make the campus safer and more secure by eliminating the wearing of gang clothing which can also be used to intimidate or conceal contraband. Moreover, outsiders or non-students are easily recognized on campus.
- Climate for Learning: A uniform helps students focus on learning. It sets the tone for proper work attitude in the classroom, reducing behavior problems and improving performance.
- School Unity and Pride: An attractive student uniform promotes school spirit, good self-image, and school unity. Just an an athletic teams' uniforms promote unity and spirit, so can a school uniform.
- Label Competition: A uniform eliminates "label competition" and the peer pressure to wear expensive clothing. It allows the student's attention to be directed to learning and growing.
- Economics: A uniform is economical. Comparisons show that the uniform costs significantly less than what most parents pay for unregulated school clothing. Durability, reusability, and the year-to-year consistency also cut costs.
- Homogeneity and Opportunities for self-expression: A uniform removes the status that clothing labels give to some children and serves to externally equalize all students. This provides impetus for students to find more productive outlets for expressions of individualism such as wit, intelligence, and creativity. Teachers offer many opportunities for self-expression and creativity in the academic realm ranging from creative assignments to after-school clubs.
- Modesty Standards Upheld: A uniform meets widely accepted standards of modesty thus eliminating the conflicting interpretations of dress codes and the embarrassment that often is associated with "violations" of dress code.
- Dressing Simplified: Parents cite simplification of selection as an important advantage. Even though several selections are available within the uniform, each meets the standards of the school and the approval of the home. Parents of students wearing uniforms report they they have saved hundreds of dollars and eliminated the morning tug-of-war with children over what to wear.
Our school uniform policy is part of our Safe School's Plan. It is endorsed by our local Sheriff's liaison and DARE officer as a proactive step toward maintaining a safe campus.
All students will wear the designated school uniform dress clothing items as described below:
Pants/Capris/skorts/walking shorts/jumper.... Navy or Tan only, no logos.
Polo shirt/T-shirt(crew neck only)/Turtle Necks....baby blue, navy, white, or gray only, no logos, no patterns, solid color only
socks, tights, leggings....Navy, white, or gray only.
Sweatshirt....Navy,white, or gray, no logo
Jacket...Navy only, no logo or middle school logo
Maroon and yellow have been slashed from the list of acceptable
colors this year, plus socks are now being control
led. Apparently the bright orange socks my child chose to wear to assert her individuality caused too much discomfort. My child was told to remove her yellow hair scarf at the end of the school year this past spring because it apparently marked her as possibly belonging to a gang not because it matched her shirt. It could be why yellow is removed from this year's color selection.
As a parent and as an individual, I take exception to this policy. I have no problem with dress codes per se. I have a problem with quashing the individuality, the uniqueness of a child. My biggest beef with this plan is the Homogeneity. Sameness is being promoted. The child must fit in, conform, blend in, or he is out. Like it or not, what we wear is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, how we identify ourselves, whether it be goth, jock, artsy, yuppy, geek or whatever. It is how we outwardly express our uniqueness. Having the right color, the right pattern that flatters can be a remarkable burst of self-esteem to a child. The right cut, the right fit says "Hey, I look good, I like myself". I don't think a child should be forced to wear clothing that makes them feel unattractive. You can tell how a child is feeling by the clothing they choose to wear, a seriously depressed child tends to dress dark/drab to fit his mood. It's a clue that he needs attention. Visual cues are lost with a uniform.
Points addressed in the rationale above that I would like to touch upon.
- Only gang clothing can conceal contraband?
They aren't taking into account the huge backpacks the kids have to carry around all day for their school supplies. The pockets in there are pretty big. I'm wondering when they are going to disallow backpacks as well...
- The fact is that there are no empirical studies that show that uniforms alone have reduced classroom behavior problems or improved scholastic performance, none.
- School spirit is promoted when the child has pride in his school. Belonging to the school and participating in the activities are what promotes spirit. There is still team spirit when an athletic team practices together and are not in uniform. They are working together and taking pride in the group performance. The uniform doesn't make them a team. The uniform merely separates them from the opponent during a game.
- Uniforms do not remove peer pressure, doesn't even mask it.
- In our neck of the woods, the price of these clothes are jacked up. The retailers know that we have no choice. There is no bargain here. They are no more durable than any other clothes. Kids still grow out of them, so year to year doesn't fly here.
- School uniforms do not equalize the students. There is still a sharp division that I have observed. The hispanics still hang out with the hispanics. The whites still group with other whites. The rich hang with the rich, the poor with the poor. The socioeconomic lines have not been blurred. Wealthier students own every accessory, designer jewelry, name brand shoes, designer backpack. The poorer students own the basics. After repeated washings the uniforms look more faded and worn, while the wealthier students get new more often.
The rationale talks big about expressions of individualism yet ignores the most important way that kids express themselves, how they dress. That conveys the most information about a child's values, feelings, and beliefs.
- There will still be modesty issues from girls rolling up their shorts, rolling down their waistbands, rolling up their sleeves, tying knots in their shirts. Boys will still pull those boxers up to be shown, same as before. Uniforms will not change the urge to buck the system.
- parents report .... which parents? Please back up your claims. Give me empirical studies. Show me that this outweighs the need for my kids' individuality and maybe I'll adjust my stance.
Bottom line is I think this whole school uniform policy is a cheap band aid to a larger problem. It's like putting a fresh coat of paint onto an old delapidated building; looks nice, but doesn't really address the deeper problems facing the school system these days. I find that there is something not quite right about promoting uniforms yet not dealing with the more serious issues like overcrowded schools, low teacher pay, less funding for school districts, electives slipping away, understaffing, etc. (This doesn't cost so much so lets do this and look like we're accomplishing something) It would be better to directly address the issues of racism, cultural conflict, violence, and socioeconomic barriers head on rather than cover them over in a weak attempt to force homogeneity. I would prefer to see tolerance of differences taught as opposed to hiding them.
This policy is teaching the kids, you must be the same. You must blend in. You must. This scares the heck out of me. I think that there is enough "you aren't like me so I don't like you" kind of crap going on without promoting it. The message being sent is...It's not OK to be different. I think that differences should be celebrated not hidden away. Just imagine it...no color, no texture, bland, dull, plain vanilla, the same. No vibrancy... How boring is that?
It's time to get to the heart of the problem and ditch the quick cosmetic fix ups that I feel may end up doing more harm than good.
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