Thursday, March 24, 2005

What's That Under Your Pledge Pin...A Uniform???

There has been a lot of talk lately about school uniforms; the Mesquite district voted this week to require them for all middle- and high-school students, and the Dallas ISD, in the midst of debating them, received an endorsement of the idea from the president of the Dallas-area LULAC, though response from parents was mixed.

Actually, the term "uniform" is somewhat of a misnomer in this case; it's not the plaid skirts and shirts-and-ties of some private schools, but rather something known as "standardized dress." Most places that use this idea require khaki or navy pants, shorts or skirts and an un-logoed polo-type shirt in a solid color such as red, white or blue. Proponents say that this policy helps minimize the socioeconomic differences between students, eliminate gang colors in schools, and promote a more disciplined learning environment. Opponents say that it stifles the students' individuality and creativity and note the expense ($3.8 million) that the DISD would have to incur to provide a uniform apiece for 123,000 needy students. (I also thought it was interesting that one article noted that the recommended style of dress might cause overweight students to look "frumpy and unfashionable.")

So this is another one I'm throwing out to the commenters: Good idea? Bad idea? I tend to side with the opposition on this one, just because I'm not even a really big fan of strict dress codes (but that's another post). I teach at one school that does this (and nine that don't), and I can't say that I really see that much difference in the way the kids act. It is a little visually jarring the first day; walking down a hallway where a whole bunch of kids had the red polo/khaki pants combination, I felt like I was awash in a sea of Super Target employees. And if Dallas does this, I really can't imagine it at Booker T., which tends to allow its artist/musician/dancer students to have things like blue hair, Mohawks, and so on; one Booker T. parent said that "uniforms teach our kids not to think."

Anyway, let me know your thoughts in the comments. Oh yeah, and if the title of this post confuses you, please try to watch this at your earliest convenience during this upcoming holiday weekend.

Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail road to insanity: Talk show host Benjamin Dover reports that some malls are bowing to extreme political correctness and referring to the Easter Bunny as the "Spring Bunny." Sure, and we're going to put Spring Eggs in our Spring Baskets too. (Oh yeah, and that reminds me, I still need to take down my Holiday Lights...) OK, you get the idea, but man, can these people lighten up? There is nothing wrong with the word Easter...or Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, what have you. I don't want to have to say this again (but something tells me I will).

UPDATE: It gets worse; a 13-year-old kid assaulted the Easter Bunny at a mall in Michigan and gave him a bloody nose. (via Dave Barry's Blog)

Gassed, part 3: My gas challenge from Monday (trying to pay less than $2 a gallon) may end with my next fill-up; even though I found some for $1.99 (and three cents off that with the club card) at a Tom Thumb yesterday, even the QT stations in the area are above two bucks today. *sigh*

4 comments:

Eric Grubbs said...

I understand why uniforms may be needed, but I don't think they're the right solution. How can you tell the difference between the jocks, the nerds, the goths and the invisibles? Seriously, since school is a simulated microcosm of the outside world, do we really think that everybody wearing the same thing is the way to educate kids? Eventually kids will have to realize that people wear different clothes to express his/her personality. The more you repress in the educational infastructure, the more things are shocking when one is out of the infastructure (ie, graduates and gets a job).

As for gas, I filled up at one of the cheapest places I drive by on a regular basis: $2.05. My car is filthy and is screaming for a car wash, but I didn't want to pay more out of my nose. I hope some rain falls down this weekend . . .

Gary P. said...

My wife likes the idea of school uniforms for all the reasons proponents tout. A friend of mine is an assistant principal at a medium-to-low-income-demographic middle school in Lake Charles, LA, and he is very much a proponent. I don't like them as just an area where I think government should butt out.

The reason my Asst. Prin. friend seems to like them the most is to control the parents who would otherwise let their kids wear almost nothing to school. My response is to set and enforce a dress code with some minimum standards of decency, but not to punish the 95% of familes who are involved and don't create the problem.

Kev said...

"How can you tell the difference between the jocks, the nerds, the goths and the invisibles?"

I know that was said tongue-in-cheek, but Benjamin Dover brought that up the other day--making everyone look alike actually hinders administrators in keeping an eye on the Trench Coat Mafia and so on. Granted, you can't always judge someone by their appearance, but sometimes it's a good start in situations like that.

Those who support uniforms probably hope that changing the outside appearance of the kids will somehow change them on the inside, but it just seems like they're putting a pretty face on certain problems in the hope that they'll go away.

"My response is to set and enforce a dress code with some minimum standards of decency, but not to punish the 95% of familes who are involved and don't create the problem. "

I couldn't have said that better myself. That's one of the reasons that I never became a traditional classroom teacher--I can't fathom punishing an entire group for the misdeeds of the few.

Steven said...

See, there is also something uniforms don't account for...people have other things on them such as...I don't know...FACES! The jocks see eachother in practice, so the jocks are going to know who they are, and hang out together and discriminate as they please. The same goes for nerds, gangs, and so on. Even if you have the same shirt on, there can still be little things done to make you or your group different: Pop the collar up, roll a pant leg up, stuff something up a sleeve and so on. Of course, in order to combat this, you then have to enforce even MORE rules that will be virtually impossible to do with a school packed with students. I just think in the long term...uniforms will lose whatever effectiveness they have.