Thursday, October 14, 2010

You Say Yes

And I say no, no, no!

Well actually, I don't know WHAT I say.

This is the post I had all wonderfully written when it was eaten by blogger.

The other night Chunky came home with the following flyer in his backpack:

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The School District is currently reviewing the possibility of instituting a policy of a school uniform for the 2011-2012 school year.

The uniform will consist of a collared shirt, pants, or skirt and shorts (May 1st to October 1st). The cost of a shirt is estimated to be approximately $10.00 per shirt.

All families receiving Free or Reduced lunch will receive 1 shirt, per child, at no cost.

The policy will apply to all grade levels.

The following is a short school survey regarding a uniform policy. Please complete the survey and return it to your child's school by October 20, 2010, so that we can assess the feasibility of uniforms in the district. The results of this survey will be discussed at a public Board of Education meeting in November.

Then there was a box to check for "Yes, I'm in favor of uniforms" or "No, I'm not in favor of uniforms."

Okay. Where to start?!

There are many facets to the school uniform idea.

They discourage gangs.

Remember the days of kids getting their asses kicked for Raiders jackets? Was that in Socal? I can't remember. Maybe it was an urban legend started by the Denver Broncos. Anyway, I guess certain clothing is used by different gang members to signify what affiliation they're with. And when you mix oil with water or Bloods with Crips, all hell breaks loose and people don't want that in school.

Guess what? Never underestimate the ingenuity of bad people. Ok, so you take away their "gang" clothing. They'll find new ways to designate themselves. Maybe Latin Kings like using red pencils at school. Are we going to ban red pencils too?

They level the social playing field. You can't tell who can afford designer clothes and who can't.

Ha ha!!! Man this one makes me laugh. Why? Because at $10 a pop for just shirts alone, I'd have to spend $100 for Chunky (5 long sleeved shirts, 5 short sleeved shirts) to wear for 9 months. And guess what? When he's at the end of the school year and those shirts are getting worn and threadbare, guess who won't be replacing them? Me. There's a whole sub-rant here about me wanting to punch people who say it's cheaper to wear school uniforms than civvies. Where are these people shopping??

Uniforms help kids do better in school.

Because uniforms make kids feel safer and then more eager to learn. Really? So they can learn what? How to ace the fill-scan-tron standardized test so they can get the hell out of that school and get a real job/go to college? Wearing a uniform or not, nowadays school is about Passing The Test. And guess what? As a 4.0 high school student -- some of us suck HARD at standardized tests. I don't care how many techniques you teach me, I just SUCK at them. Wearing a uniform isn't going to change that.

Uniforms promote unity and togetherness because everyone is dressed the same.

I can't say a damn thing about this. I was the girl wearing the opposing team's school colors during spirit week. Muhahahahahaha!

Uniforms promote creativity.

I love this argument. Allegedly because kids don't have to worry about channeling their creativity into how they look, they can use that creativity for other things. Hee hee! It's true! Sort of. Newark Public Schools have uniforms for all grades. This isn't so much true for the younger kids, but the older kids are very creative wearing their uniforms. I am amazed how they will "individualize" their uniforms by either pulling their pants down, rolling up their skirt bands or wearing as many buttons unbuttoned as they can without being cited for indecent exposure.

All of this aside, I couldn't answer the survey yes or no.


Because nowhere in the flyer did they say why they were considering school uniforms.

It's almost election time here in the States for some of us.

Imagine waking up one day and being dragged to the polls and being told to vote for Candidate A or Candidate B and you have NO idea why Candidate A and Candidate B are running. Could you vote with a clear conscious?

I had Chunky return the "short survey" where I wrote: I can't cast a vote until I know exactly why the school district is considering school uniforms. Please send more information regarding the background to this contemplation in policy before asking parental opinions on the matter.

I'm not too hopeful that I'll ever hear why.

And if Chunky's stories are true, these poor teachers are losing a lot of instructional time having to field questions about school uniforms (they don't know any more about it than we do apparently).

Hmmm....might be something there that might sway my vote!



Blogger Wendy said...

I can't say anything about school uniforms, because my kids actually do have a "school uniform" (and, yes, we still homeschool :). When we go on "field trips", they have to wear one of the articles of clothing they have (either a shirt or a fleece/sweatshirt) that has our homeschool logo, and it's kind of a safety thing ... oh, and a way for me to be sure that the clothes they're wearing are clean, relatively stain-free and appropriate for public gathering.

It's either that, or end up with something very creative, typically incredibly colorful, rarely matching, and occasionally not appropriate for the weather. If I don't dictate what clothes they wear in public, we often end up out and about with them looking a bit like Pippy Longstocking ;).

8:18 PM  
Blogger Crafty Christina said...

I went to Catholic school in middle and high school and let me tell you, as a student I LOVED my uniform. I was one of the less wealthy kids (I won't say poor because we weren't poor bur we certainly weren't as wealthy as the other families) and I never worried about wearing no name brands to school. Cloths were actually something that you'd get teased about in HS. I was really glad for the uniform and sorry when I went to college, haha.

On the other hand, Pi was thrilled to shed her uniform when she started public school. Guess it's up to every kid. For us though, it was cheaper to buy unfiforms. They were pretty generic and we could find good sales on the shirts. The jumpers were expensive upfront, but we defintitely spent less last year w/ uniforms than without them this year.

They do need to give you a reason though!

8:38 PM  
Blogger Poops said...

I'd be for them if it cuts down on kids going to school looking like idiots, but then they're just going to modify the uniform to bring out their inner idiot anyway.

I'm opposed because I'm cheap and my kids live in hand-me-downs.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

Well, both my kids have been in school uniforms their entire school life. These were already established policies before we started attending them. I like them for the ease and the fact of no designer stuff. I used to get teased a lot as I couldn't afford them.

This being said, I hated it when they would not allow us to shop at the discount stores/sales for the shirts (polo) and pants. Having to buy directly from the school was more expensive. My daughter and white wasn't pretty, bleach was my friend! ;) Now she's in HS and luckily I can get 2+ years out of a monogrammed shirt, given that it is green. Her white shirts don't have to have monograms thus the cheaper ones.

Good for you asking why, especially since it is a change in policy, you make valid points on why having them will not help, etc.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Avoid designer clothes envy my left foot. So instead of envying the shirts and skirts, the girls at my school competed with shoes, bags, scarves, winter coats, jewellery, hair accessories, the list goes on and on. Eventually my high school decided on a dress code: shirts must be collared, no words allowed on the shirt (nope, not even a company logo) no jeans, no bare bellies and no underwear showing.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! This is a good one!! Being the third of three girls I always wore the hand-me-downs. Teased??? If I was I never knew about it or I was too stupid/smart to pay attention and let it bother me. I think I have said this before but it comes down to the parents...If they are concerned that their kids are not cool enough the kids will do ANYTHING to be cool!

Good for you for asking for more info before filling out that survey.

Love, Mom

12:02 AM  
Anonymous SiressYorkie said...

I loved school uniforms for Max when we were in England. It was a pair of dark or gray trousers, a white shirt, and aschool sweatshirt over top with the school's logo (I owned two).

But they didn't care where you got your supplies. ASDA sold a pack of 5 white polo shirts for 6 pounds and the trousers were 3 to a pack for 10 pounds (with knees reinforced with teflon). And I only ever had three outfits: one on the kid, one in the drawer, one in the wash, as they said.

Where did they get the price of $10.00 a shirt?? And will they make you buy from them??

1:40 AM  
Blogger JRS said...

How annoying!

I taught in schools with uniforms for years. I can attest that they make absolutely no difference in focusing kids on learning or eliminating indicators of socioeconomic status. None at all. If anything, they were a distraction. Many of the kids only had one summer uniform and one winter uniform, and they stunk to high heaven, because since they had to wear them 6-7 days a week (this was Japan, there were always school activities on the weekends) they never got cleaned. Ugh. Especially bad with the puberty set.

The girls *had* to wear skirts, and the pervie male teachers would enjoy looking up the staircases as they walked up, and the girls had such complexes about their "fat" legs showing. Plus in the winter they froze. No one would ever force my daughter into a uniform--I'd switch schools before I'd let that happen!

Good luck getting your explanation!

7:48 AM  
OpenID pyewacketsid said...

Our county switched to uniforms/dress code this year, and they kind of pushed the vote through on the down-low. A lot of people were surprised this summer when the announcement was made.

The on-dit is that it was an attempt to squelch inflammatory slogans. The same dinky "church" that was trying to start an all-out jihad last month by threatening to burn the Koran was sending its children to school last year with t-shirts that read, "Islam is of the Devil." Yeah baby, that's my town. *sigh*

Our homeschool group went to a concert this week, and busloads of public school kids were also in attendance. We were a bright spot of sparkles and cartoon characters and ripped jeans and sleeveless shirts in a sea of polos and khakis, ha ha!

Good for you for asking why.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Donna Lee said...

Our local elementary school went to uniforms while Kate was still there. I fought against it (I still think it's a bad idea) but in the end had to give in and buy her khaki/blue pants and khaki/blue/white/yellow shirts. One of the big problems is that khaki pants are not warm and it gets cold in the winter. we had to buy under armor(only one that would fit under her pants easily) to keep her warm. And it's NOT cheaper and kids know who has money and who has not. They are not fooled by clothing.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Wait...uniforms promote creativity?! Maybe the bullies will have to think more creatively, but in my experience they have no trouble thinking up ways to torment people. Ugh. Also, ten dollars for an elementary schooler's shirt is pretty pricey. So the families on assistance will still have to pay forty dollars for a week of tops--PER KID--not counting the fact that they'll need more for the winter. Yeah, not buying this. Maybe if they sold iron-on patches for a few bucks...

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I wore them in HS and it was great- up and out the dorm with no thinking about what to wear. It meant during not school hours I had a pitiful selection to choose from and we all borrowed each other's everything to make outfits. But that was boarding school.

I'd be okay with a uniform but I know there would be serious grumbling about another bill coming our way. The schools here that have a uniform have a sale every spring for hand me downs.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I have two kids in Catholic school, and I am very much in favor of uniforms.

Mornings are so hectic and stressful for us as it is, so I love that there's no arguing or guessing or worrying about what to wear (I have an almost-teenaged daughter) every day.

As far as cost goes, I guess it depends on what exactly the uniform entails. At my son's school, the boys just wear navy blue pants, and plain white polo shirts in the fall/winter, and in the spring they have the option of wearing navy blue shorts.

I bought my son his shirts from Lands' End when they were on sale for $10 each, and his pants I got from Kohls on sale for $8 a piece. I got him 5 short sleeved shirts, 5 pairs of shorts (about the same price at J.C. Penney), and 5 pairs of pants. I'll get him some long sleeved shirts soon since the weather is getting cold.

The girls at his school have the same uniform, except that on "dress uniform" days they have to wear a plaid uniform skirt, white blouse, and navy blue sweater vest. The kids used to have to wear "uniform" shoes, but now they can wear tennis shoes all year.

My daughter's school used to require all of the uniforms items to be bought from Schoolbelles, but now they only have to buy the shirts from there. They're white banded-bottom polo shirt, with the school logo embroidered on them, and they're $23.50 a piece! They can wear khaki or navy blue pants or shorts, or a plaid uniform skirt.

Because she wears uniforms most of her waking hours during the school year, I buy her a lot less regular clothes than I would normally, so I think cost wise it evens out.

She has to wear "uniform" shoes, so I buy her a pair of Mary Janes or oxford type shoes from Lands' End. One pair from there will last her all year, and I know that if they do fall apart, I can return them to Lands' End and get a new pair without a problem. She wears adult-sized shoes (size 9!) and her shoes were $40. I don't think that's bad at all for a pair of shoes she'll wear nearly every day for 9 months.

I think the thing I like best about uniforms, particularly for girls, is that they don't feel the pressure to worry about how they look every day (other than hygiene-wise of course).

I think about how much time and energy my 12 year old niece (who doesn't wear uniforms) says she spends each morning obssessing over what outfit she'll wear to school each day, and how she turns her nose at non-designer clothes, and I am glad my daughter doesn't have to deal with that.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended a Catholic school (K-12) from 6th grade through graduation, uniforms required. 6th & 7th grades, plaid jumper (navy/green plaid w/some thin yellow stripes), pale yellow shirt, navy blue shorts; 8th grade, blue/tan/white plaid (choice of skirts - kick pleats or kilt), white/lt. blue/lt. yellow button front shirt, navy blue weskit (long vest) or blazer, navy blue knee socks, saddle shoes (lower) and oxfords (upper). The lower school uniforms had to come through the school; the upper school just the plaid stuff and the weskit or blazer. I don't recall the cost structure - just wasn't aware, I guess.

Didn't stop the competition - hair, tans, jewelry, sweater and/or shoe brand, backpack brand, pens, pencils, cars (for those who had them, anyway) etc.

Didn't stop teasing about clothes.

Didn't entirely stop problems with too-short skirt lengths and similar issues...

Didn't prevent spotting those with lots of money/resources vs. those without - even showed, somehow, in the uniforms themselves...though I can't tell you how, we just knew.

Looking back, not having to think (much) about what to wear was a bonus, tho' in some ways that made the transition to college rough, because I neither knew what to wear nor did I have many clothes! I also avoided navy blue for a long time, and I still avoid skirts!

And I still find myself "uniform" dressing, it doesn't require as much thought - pants (currently black, brown, or jeans), shirt (either button front or nice t-shirt, short or long sleeve depending on weather - I do play with color some but tend to use the same patterns when sewing my shirts), shoes or sandals (black, brown...branched out recently to one pair of grey!), adding a small scarf/shawl, sweater, coat, etc. according to the weather.

I agree with earlier comments that finding out the reasoning (and also finding out the parameters - what items, where they can be purchased, etc.) is an eminently sensible idea!

6:33 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Willow's school doesn't have so much of a uniform policy as a dress code policy - you aren't required to buy certain brands, or types, but children are restricted as to what they can wear - pants must be black, khaki, or navy, and shirts must have collars and be a solid colour (no stripes, patterns, or logos). I like it because it is easy to find clothes (sweaters can be a bit problematic - girl's sweaters tend to be cutesy with patterns and logos) and she is *covered* up. You would be surprised how quickly an 8 year old can look like a hussy when left to her own clothing choices.

3:24 PM  
Blogger weezalana said...

Hahaha! I wonder if they'll get back to you?

11:47 AM  

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