School uniforms?

KimberlyBrooksKimberly Brooks, leader of PAA chapter PAA-Atlanta Public Schools, wrote the following article challenging the district’s school uniform policy.

Atlanta Public Schools Uniform Policies: What Can We Infer From Them?

A few weeks ago I spent over a hundred dollars in attire for my two children to attend school – a public school.

The school has a mandatory uniform policy for all students. This is a good policy, correct? As a parent uniformity looks more eloquent and prestigious, right? Well, I support the ideology of that concept –until one day where there was an emergency and my daughter wasn’t in uniform. The principal was more concerned with her attire than her education.

To go a step further, though I agreed I would ensure that she wears the uniform, she refused to accommodate her and put into ISS (detention). This is common. After questioning several parents, they too understood this to be the policy. That’s okay. However, I realized I never received the policy. I then questioned it and received no response.

To make a long story longer (lol) I decided to dig a little deeper. Students in public schools should not be required unless the district agrees, and the parents would have to agree. I was unable to locate such an agreement. Furthermore, students are penalized and taken out of general instruction for their attire. At some schools, students miss class because they are sent to ISS and in some cases suspended. Is attire that important? Why do schools require uniforms?

In private and charter schools, uniforms make students distinguishable from other schools. In addition to that it’s a given requirement upon entry to the school and the uniforms are identical. This isn’t the case in Atlanta Public Schools. School districts choose their uniforms. But hey, it’s cheaper correct? The answer is no. Students are still economically identifiable by the quality and uniform type. Furthermore, students who are economically challenged are forced to wear the same clothing more, considering the cheap quality. It is visibly different.

As a frugal parent, jeans and a t-shirt or a sweater are easier to locate than khaki or black pants and oxford shirts. But once again, why should I complain right? Well, here is why. After research I found that most schools that are majority black schools have uniform policies. For example, King Middle School and Inman Middle School are in the same cluster but one has a uniform policy and the other doesn’t. The question now is why? If uniforms are best, then why aren’t they mandatory in all schools? The Atlanta Public School handbook does not enforce uniform policy. Schools are punishing students, labeling it a “dress code” violation when it’s not.

Parents need to ask questions. My opinion: students should not be required to wear uniforms if it is not mandated for all schools. It creates a barrier to punish a child and deny them education while allowing others access. This is discriminatory in nature. I, with your help, will be requesting that all uniform policies be removed until they are mandated by the system for all schools and do not interfere with instruction.

Other PAA voices

John Harris Loflin, a leader of PAA’s Indianapolis affiliate Parent Power, shared with our leadership a research paper he wrote in 2007 on uniform policy, in which he concluded that there is no research support for instituting a uniform policy.

John added, “Last night I reviewed the information on school uniforms on the Internet. As was the case in ’07, I found no research supporting school uniforms. There is lots of anecdotal evidence, ‘Billy’s wearing school uniform. Now, he cleans his room every night!’—but, no research. None.”

Some other PAA members made the same observation as Kimberly – that uniform codes are most often imposed in school in communities of color. But other members shared more positive experiences with uniform codes, and solid reasons for having them.

What do you think?

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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