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School Uniforms as Contrived Regulation: 10 Answers to the Flagler School Board

| October 18, 2011

Regulations fit to be headless. (xsix)

The Flagler County School Board on Oct. 18 agreed to move toward writing a uniform policy for district schools. The matter was discussed in 2007. The board almost endorsed uniforms then, only to retreat back to a dress code, which is in effect now. But the board has three new members, one of whom, John Fischer, is at the forefront of the initiative this time. Nancy Nally, a Flagler County parent and leading opponent of uniforms in school in 2007–and again this year–provides the following FAQ on the issue.

By Nancy Nally

Q. Do uniforms improve school security?

Proponents of uniforms argue that having students dressed in uniforms will make it easy to spot someone who doesn’t belong at the school. This is incorrect for several reasons.

1. Some courts have ruled that to be constitutional, public school uniform policies must have a parental “opt-out” clause. Children with disabilities may also be excluded from uniform policies to accommodate their needs. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that 100 percent of the students at any school will be wearing the uniform, effectively erasing the effect of making an intruder immediately visible since there will always be a small percentage of students out of uniform.

2. If uniforms are simply store-bought items in certain colors, they can be easily obtained by anyone who wishes to enter a school, camouflaging them and allowing them to blend into the student body.

3. Even if uniforms are mandated as utilizing specific shirts with embroidered logos, they are still difficult to identify from a distance, still making it easy for someone to blend into a crowd. Also, the use of embroidered shirts negates any arguable cost savings that uniform proponents could claim. (see next question).

Nancy Nally

The Live Commentary

4. While it is true that wearing similar clothing makes it easier to keep groups together on field trips, this can be done in much simpler ways than requiring uniforms everyday of the entire school year when students may take field trips only two or three days per school year. For instance, it is currently done at Belle Terre Elementary by having the students buy class t-shirts for about $10 that they are requested to wear on field-trip days and for other special events. Students who join the class after the t-shirt purchase date are requested to wear a shirt the same color as the purchased shirt on field trip days.

5. Adult intruders are a major source of security concern at schools, particularly at the elementary schools. Unless teachers are also required to wear the uniform, a uniform policy for students does nothing to address that security concern. Even if teachers were required to wear a uniform, the constant stream of volunteers and parents in and out of the schools, not wearing uniforms, means there would always be people in the buildings not wearing uniforms for an intruder to blend in.

Uniform advocates also claim that student-on-student violence decreases, and gang activity is prevented, when uniforms are required. No credible, conclusive research supports these claims. As researchers at the University of Notre Dame pointed out in their 1998 study on the subject of school uniforms, case studies that claim to show successes from implementing uniform policies in schools cannot show a clear cause-effect relationship between the uniform policies and the school improvements. The changes in the schools can almost certainly be credited to other events that took place at the same time the uniforms were implemented, or simply to the attention that was focused on the school’s problems by the implementation of the uniform policy. There is no research to support the idea that the actual wearing of uniforms actually causes an improvement in student behavior or security.

Q. Are uniforms cheaper and easier for parents?

Uniforms are simpler and easier in one way: assuming that your child’s uniform is clean and in their closet in the morning, there can be no arguments about what to wear to school once the child understands that uniforms are the rule. But that one possible advantage is outweighed by several downsides in both hassle and cost.

Cost savings is the most frequent argument put forward to support uniforms. Buying some cheap pants and shirts for students for school rather than the wardrobes they wear now might sound less expensive. In fact, for most families, it will increase their wardrobe costs. This would be especially true if embroidered shirts, expensive compared to discount store polo shirts, were required as part of the uniforms, just as it would be for students hard to fit–slim, tall, or plus sizes. And the costs would be especially huge the first year uniforms were implemented, when every family in town would be starting from scratch with no hand-me-downs or leftovers from the previous year that still fit, and no available used clothes for purchase. It’s no coincidence that the local Chamber of Commerce supported implementing uniforms in 2007. Some of the chamber’s members stood to make buckets of money from the measure.

Very few students are going to want to wear their uniforms after school. This will be especially true for older, more fashion-conscious students. They will end up needing their uniform wardrobe as well as an after-school wardrobe – two whole wardrobes instead of just one.

In many families, like mine, using clothing as gifts for birthdays and holidays cuts clothes shopping budgets. Outfits or clothes-store gift cards are practical gifts that children still love to get. Somehow, though, I doubt that most children would be thrilled to receive school uniforms from Nana for Christmas, or would want to spend their birthday gift card from the Gap on khakis and golf shirts they can wear to school.

Also, don’t forget about the laundry problems brought along with uniforms. Uniforms would end up generating twice as much laundry (and thus costs from higher water & electric bills and the need to purchase more detergent) for most families, since most students would wear two outfits in a day instead of one. Also, if only a very limited set of clothes could be worn to school, there would have to be constant vigilance to ensure that those clothes were clean for wearing. This would likely mean more frequent laundry for most households.

Q. Are uniforms easier to enforce than a dress code?

Contrary to popular belief, dress code rules still need to be part of uniform policies. Enforcement of uniform policies is not a black-and-white “either you are wearing the uniform or you are not” decision, with no gray area to interpret. Even if color pants and shirt types are dictated, there still needs to be dress code rules about what constitutes pants that are too tight or too loose, skirts and shorts that are too short, shirts that are see-through or too tight, etc. Uniforms do not remove the need for school staff to police these sorts of gray areas in the uniform policy. The process just dictates what colors of shirts and pants they are looking at when they do it, and adds yet another layer of clothing enforcement to rules that are already being policed by school staff. So, it actually makes enforcement more complex instead of less complex, because there are more rules to enforce.

Q. Do uniforms make students more equal socially?

Uniform supporters like to believe that promoting “sameness” in appearance through uniforms will encourage students to look past each others’ external appearance and instead at each others’ characters. This is unfortunately not realistic. In fact, uniforms don’t prevent social stratification and can actually promote it in some cases.

Even with a strictly mandated uniform, children from families with more money will still be apparent. Their uniforms will be higher quality, not as worn out or stained, and will fit better. Their accessories like shoes, watches, school bags, and haircuts will be more expensive and better maintained. These will still be noticed among the children and a class system by financial status will still be in place.

Judgments according to looks will still happen, and could even be increased and emphasized by uniforms. Certain students, who look good in anything, will still look good in uniforms. Students whose body type or coloring is not suited to the uniform’s color or cut will be forced into wearing unflattering clothes everyday with no way to dress themselves in a more flattering way like they could if they had more options. (Think about going into any workplace that requires uniforms and how some people look perfectly fine in the uniform and other people look terrible in it.)

The social scene for most children extends well outside the school doors. Social judging and “classing” will happen in those contacts outside school, and will not simply be left behind the moment everyone walks through the doors in their school uniforms. That is a reality of life for our children that school uniforms cannot change.

Q: Do uniforms prevent gang activity?

A frequent justification for uniforms is that mandating the wearing of uniforms prevents gangs from operating in a school because they cannot display their typical clothing signals. The reality is that gangs adapt and adopt signals that can be used within the dress code: accessories, hand signals, tattoos, etc. If gangs can operate in the highly controlled environment of a prison, a school uniform policy isn’t going to slow them down. The only effect of uniforms on gang activity is that the uniforms and use of less obvious signs by the members makes them blend in more to the school’s population – making them more difficult for school personnel to spot and monitor.

Q: Do uniforms improve students’ grades?

A major argument for uniforms is that they “enhance the learning environment.” However, there is no credible and conclusive research that supports that argument. Studies at both Notre Dame and Michigan State University both concluded that uniforms did not improve the learning environment.

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40 Responses for “School Uniforms as Contrived Regulation: 10 Answers to the Flagler School Board”

  1. Sarah says:

    I have been a teacher for nine years, I have worked in schools that have uniforms, non-uniforms but a dress code, and a school with no dress code whatsoever. I also went to a school that required uniforms from grades 7-12. My conclusion: uniforms work!
    While some of your arguments have merit, your position on most is to the extreme and will not apply to the majority.
    Your position that, “it is highly unlikely that 100 percent of the students at any school will be wearing the uniform” is not accurate. It is not “highly unlikely” that all kids will be wearing it, but more likely that kids will be (with a few exceptions here and there). Mandatory means wearing it! Daily!
    Stating that, “In fact, for most families, it will increase their wardrobe costs” is also foolish. I had five skirts and tops for the school I went to. Five. The rest of my wardrobe (which grandma and grandpa could buy me for Christmas/birthdays) was for afterschool/weekends. It was one load of laundry a week for my mom for all of the uniforms for me, my sister, and brother. ONE load.
    It’s the same for work clothes vs. casual clothes for adults. It does not put a huge dent in my wallet to buy a skirt for work and a pair of jeans for Saturday.
    And because it was only five outfits, it didn’t have to be “cheaply made” as you put it. It is a lot less expensive to buy five uniforms than one pair of designer jeans. (One pair of True Religion jeans is up to $330).
    The idea that, “Judgments according to looks will still happen, and could even be increased and emphasized by uniforms” is also wrong. Yes, there are always bullies. But the level of and amount bullying can be greatly lowered if everyone looks the same. I’ve seen it work, both as a student as a teacher.
    Finally, behavior and grades are improved when wearing uniforms. I remember how the boys on my school’s basketball team would behave normally. They played around, teased girls, and got into a bit of rambunctious trouble. Then, when they had to wear dress clothes and ties for game day, it was like seeing a whole new kid. Their behavior was better, resulting in paying more attention in class and (as a teacher I noted getting better grades). Think of how kids act dressed up for church vs. a Saturday afternoon. They take more pride in themselves, their appearance, their behavior, and consequently, their grades.

  2. PC Dad says:

    I like the idea of school uniforms. I asked my two girls who are in elementary school and they said they looked forward to wearing uniforms. They said it would make it easier to get ready in the morning and everyone would be the same and no one any better. My younger daughter said she would miss being able to show off her new clothes. Reason enough to get a uniform rule if you ask me.

    Sorry Nancy, none of your extreme ideas float with this household.

    • Rallathon says:

      Ok sorry but youre wrong. I’ve experienced many uniforms before and they are horrible confining. They made me and all of my friends think we were in a prison, not a school.

  3. Nancy N. says:

    Sarah, have you heard about something called the Halo Effect? Research shows that when kids are dressed better, teachers perceive that they are better behaved even if they are actually behaving the same.

    You’re very focused on the “mandatory” aspect except like I mentioned in the article, Federal law requires that parents have the option to opt their children out of wearing a uniform for various reasons. Not all families will comply with this. My child also is one of the many in the district who will be excused from wearing it because of having medical problems or a disability.

    As for your observations – anecdotal “evidence” isn’t evidence. Solid statistical research is evidence. And the only real scientific research that has been done on the topic shows both that uniforms do not work and that they are more expensive. I have an autistic child – I know all about the reliability of anecdotal evidence. Thousands of parents in this country swear that the MMR vaccine gave their child autism because they “saw” it happen. But the scientific research done by medical professionals does not bear this out, and the fear that was spread by that false “evidence” is now harming kids who are dying of diseases that had previously been virtually eradicated, because their parents are now afraid to vaccinate them. We have to pay attention to the science and not what we just THINK we’ve seen.

    You can quote your statistics about a pair of True Religion jeans all you want but the reality is that the kids are still going to want those jeans so that they can wear them the rest of the day. Except that they are also going to need ANOTHER set of clothes to wear during the school day now too. Plus…with the economy being the way it is in this town, how many parents are buying those sorts of clothes? My entire back-to-school shopping for my 8 year old daughter was 3 pairs of $11 jeans at Target. Everything else she’s wearing she already had. If uniforms were put into effect this year, my shopping budget would have had to have been more like $150 or more for khaki pants and polo shirts for her because she’s hard to fit. I can’t afford that kind of extra expenditure and I guarantee neither can most of the rest of the parents in the district.

    Don’t believe me? Check out the only study that’s ever been done on the cost of clothes per student when uniforms were implemented. Families spend more, not less:

    • Nancy i agree with you 101 percent . It’s is hard to afford expensive uniforms in to days economy . why buy new clothes wen you have the ones from last year ? Buy two or three more shirts and pants and switch up the style this year .No body will notice and its money and time saving. Also the clothes that you buy doesn’t have to be name brand it just have to be clothes that fit and suet you right .

  4. JL says:

    People should not believe that students prone to criminal activity will be deterred by school uniforms. I lived in Philadelphia, where all public and parochial schools have had uniforms for a long time. Just recently, a flash mob of students ganged up on innocent people right after school, in broad daylight, at 3:00 p.m. and starting beating them up. While in school uniforms. That is just one example of thousands per year. Too many to list here. But the reasoning for school uniforms should not be to deter crime. It won’t. And anyone who truly believes this lives in a fantasy world. There may be other reasons for having uniforms, but do not vote yes on this simply to try and deter crime.

  5. Sarah says:

    If you don’t want your kid to wear uniforms, fine. But from what I’ve seen and heard, the majority of the parents in the county do.
    Working in a county that required kids wear uniforms, not one kid in my school (of 1400 grades 6-8) chose to have the “Federal Opt-out”. Again, only my “antidote”, but still more first hand knowledge than you bring.
    My antidotes are my experiences on the topic, of which you seem to have none. I have been both the kid wearing the uniform and the teacher implementing the uniform. It works. Research from 1998 aside, you’re in the minority.
    And I’m not sure where you’re shopping, but $150 for five pairs of khakis from Target/Old Navy and polo shirts is unrealistic. If that’s what you paid, you’re getting ripped off. As a matter of fact, many Targets and Old Navys have specials around back to school time on these specific items just to make sure parents aren’t having to pay more. (currently at Khaki uniform pants are $14.50 and a four pack of uniform polo tops are $30). Total: 102.50. This is without back to school sales or tax free week, which lower the price even more. That’s all you have to spend ALL YEAR. (Unlike with fashion trends where you’d have to buy new things all the time).
    With your argument, it’s like saying parents can’t afford soccer uniforms or ballet tutus as well because it cost too much and would be an extreme amount of laundry. It’s not the overwhelming burden you’re trying to scare people into believing.
    And if your kids want to wear something else after school, they can get those things from birthday/Christmas presents.
    Uniforms are good for the county, and for the majority kids in it.

    • Heather says:

      I tend to disagree with Sarah when she said “That’s all you have to spend ALL YEAR. (Unlike with fashion trends where you’d have to buy new things all the time).” Unfortunately I have a kid that grows throughout the year like every other kid. You have to buy winter clothes too because most kids will need to wear long sleve shirts, pants and leggings under their skirts instead of bare legs. Also, the clothes we buy in July to start school in August, do not fit the following spring when it gets warmer again. So this leaves us to buy 3 sets of uniforms every year!

    • Nick says:

      That’s just the problem, most PARENTS agree. However, the parents are not the ones going to school, they’re not the ones that have to put it on and wear it for 7 hours a day. The kids go through it, so the kids should have a say.

  6. cj says:

    I have no problem with having students wear uniforms. However, if they are going to require students to wear khaki or some other non-denim pants (jeans) then teachers and staff should not be allowed to wear them either. Same with a collard shirt…no t-shirts for teachers or staff either.

  7. judyv says:

    Though I no longer have students in school, I just can’t help but put my two cents in. I think it’s naive to think that uniforms will make a noticeable difference in behavior or academic achievement. I think there are valid arguments that can be made both for and against. Is it worth it? If behavior has become such an issue that we are allowing our SROs to use tasers, then that needs to be addressed. All the kids are dressed alike – who gets the shock? There will still be fights.

    Students need to dress appropriately. I’ve heard all of the arguments. I had three children go through the system here. Only once did one of them have a dress code violation. A teacher deemed my youngest daughter’s shorts too short and sent her to the office. She walked around for the rest of the day with a sweater tied around her waist. I did not think her shorts were too short. She’s tall with long legs. She could never pass the fingertip test. Her solution? She never wore shorts to school again. Problem solved.

    We are supposed to be preparing these kids for the next stage of their life – college or workplace. It makes more sense to me to have a “dress for a job interview” day, then uniforms every day. That’s what they need to know. They need to know how to make the correct choices, not have the choice taken away. If they make the wrong choice, there should be consequences. That’s what life is about.

    Have you been to a college campus lately? Isn’t that what we’re preparing most of these kids for?

  8. Sarah says:

    CJ- I agree wholeheartedly. I never did wear Jeans or tee shirts as a teacher except on special Fridays wear we paid $3 and the money went to a charity. (Like in October where we wore jeans and pink tee shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness).

    JudyV- I too suffered your daughter’s problem. I am 5’11”, things always ran short on me. My mom would get skirts with big hems and take them down if I hit a growth spurt. Problem solved with no additional money spent!

  9. Are you kidding me says:

    Sarah you say the majority of the parents wnat this? I like to know where those numbers come from. I know many many parnets in this community that do not want uniforms. So please don;t cast teh majority stone with out truely knowing the numbers in our district.

    • uniformity says:

      We make our kids look the same, we ask them to act the same, we take away thier choices. I thought this was a free state with our children receiving free and appropriate education? How does manditory uniforms provide our children with free education. My child is handicapped and wears assistive devices which make fitting clothes let alone uniforms on her difficult at best. What are we to do with these issues that face us for next year.

  10. Liana G says:

    I ‘ve had 4 kids in uniforms in previous schools. And I dearly miss those schools. I have two girls in middle school now and they’ve both said they would like to be able to wear school uniforms, but they can’t afford the drama of sticking out among a school full of non uniform wearers.

    My high schooler said she would wear uniform if they were ‘prep school’ type – plaid skirts and the works. And I would gladly buy those if it means she would stop having to get up at 4:30am to get ready for school. And on any given day, I can look on her bed and find several outfits she’s changed her mind on. Then there’s the decision of which pair of shoes goes best. We leave home at 6:45 for her to catch the bus, her motive for waking up at 4:30am is insane!

    I have also heard from teachers and seen students dressed in their JROTC uniforms behave very differently. Uniform takes away from distraction so that students can focus in a structured environment.

    I am in a college environment, and I do see what college students wear on campus, particularly the ones in education. Some make me cringe inwardly. Today one wore a short gauzy black top that left nothing to the immagination, paired with hip hugging jeans. Role model material? Professors use every opportunity to stress appropriate dressing, especially when we are out in the community representing the college, some just fall on deaf ears.

    And do I see this in my kids schools? Yes! And when I’m not seeing it, I’m hearing it! Like the fairly older teacher in the middle school who wore the short short white skirt to school and had the boy salivating all day. In the elementary school, it’s the leggings with the oversize shirt/blouse/mini dress? Then there’s the skin tight low cut aerocrombie plastered against the chest t-shirts. Funny how I don’t see this anywhere else except in retail clothing stores selling this, schools and hooters (I have never been in one but I’ve seen the billboards). And while I’m at it, can those PE teachers who like to wear the short skorts and sit unladylike clean up their act. Sometimes I don’t know if these places are meat markets, or learning institutions. Please note that I am not saying ALL teachers, the ones I’m referring to they know who they are.

  11. Outside looking in says:

    You are required to wear a uniform when you work. Why not when you go to school? Teach these habits when they are young.

  12. Nancy N. says:

    Sarah, you make an awful lot of assumptions about my not having first-hand experience with school uniforms. I actually do have experience personally in the topic, but I happen to believe that positions based on scientific research have more meaning than personal anecdotes. There are people that claim all sorts of things based on “anecdotal evidence”. But anecdotes and personal experience aren’t actually solid proof – they aren’t evidence. If a blue car drives by your house and then it starts to rain, did the blue car make it rain? No. Solid scientific research that eliminates the possibility of the impact of other factors is needed to prove cause and effect between two items. And frankly, there isn’t any research that proves any positive effects are caused by uniforms. The existent studies do prove that clothing costs go up for families and beyond that…nothing. There’s all this talk about setting examples for our kids. How about teaching them the value of paying attention to scientific evidence instead of mob thinking?

  13. Rocky Mac says:

    Having two girls in Catholic School, I can say from experience it was so much easier for all of us in selecting what to wear every day and on my pocketbook every September. They each had one uniform and two blouses that I washed every other day. No big deal with the laundry. It did not increase our laundry since they had play clothes that they could wear for several days. We were not wealthy so my girls did not have to compete with the wealthier girls in their attire. The school provided used uniforms for those in need, and many of us passed them down to friends. I only bought two blouses at the beginning of each year. They were good quality, made in the USA and lasted many years. Another plus, the students always looked presentable. No worries about the boys showing their underwear or the girls showing cleavage or their belly buttons. No need for the fashion police, accept in rare occasions when the girls got older. Regardless of documented studies, in my girl’s experience they were not concerned about the best dressed in the class, so they were not distracted in their studies. In comparison, my years in public school were devastating for me since we were one of the poor families (5 kids) and I was very conscious of the richer girls flaunting their new clothes every month or so. That was 45 years ago and it is still fresh in my mind. I just wanted to add my personal experience for those who are undecided on this issue.

  14. Sarah says:

    You have stated very little “scientific proof”. Two small studies done years ago do not make irrefutable proof. They just make the case for needing more studies. If this was the FDA, no drug would get approved with that little “evidence”. But it’s not about that. It’s what the parents of this county want. And the polling done (via Palm Coast’s facebook page) and the amount of positive comments & likes here- it is becoming overwhelming clear it IS what parents want.
    I will continue to set a positive example to students by teaching them to stand up for their opinions and not settle for lackluster “proof”. Seek out and research on their own and form their own opinions on issues important to them.

  15. 3 kids - 3 different schools says:

    I have 3 kids – 1 in MHS, one in Indian Trails middle school, and 1 in Imagine middle school. The daughter in Imagine has 5 skorts and pants and 5 shirts plus her ‘non- school’ clothes. The daughter in ITMS has 15 sets of clothing to mix and match plus her ‘non-school’ clothes.The ‘non-school’ clothes are the tank tops and shorter shorts. The son at MHS has 7 pairs of jeans, 4 pairs of shorts and about 10 ‘school’ shirts.

    The high school boy is dressed first, because he justs chooses ashirt to go with his jeans. If it needs to be ironed, he’ll change shirts. The Imagine girl is dressed right after him. Her biggest concern is if she wears her hair up or down and if she uses a bow. The ITMS girl is making sure she hasn’t worn that same shirt last week or she’ll be told she’s poor and can’t afford any more clothes. Her socks HAVE to match her shirt or she’s not ‘cool’. And hair is a whole other story. She is the last dressed and has the most laundry. My Imagine child CHOSE to attend Imagine because of the uniform and ‘no bully’ polocy. She is also the happiest of the 3 kids. I spent less on the Imagine child for clothes this year and Grandma still sends gift cards for Aeropostle or Old Navy. I purchase the majority of their actual ‘school’ clothes.

    I have been a parent volunteer at all my kids’ schools. But the children at Imagine seem a lot happier in the hallsand at lunch than the kids at the public schools.

    Do uniform help? They sure don’t hurt and I would vote for them!!

  16. w.ryan says:

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! This is a non issue that wastes the energy of the school board. There are far too many issues dealing with educating our children that when I see the rehashing of issues like this I scream.
    Here we are again getting our energy pumped and it’s merely a smoke screen for ineptitude. Mr. Fischer get real! work on bettering our childrens’ education. Tasers and now uniforms…this is surely becoming a penal colony, not a school system. So much for land of the free!

  17. judyv says:

    I have worked full-time since I was 18 years old. The only time I wore a uniform was when Indian Trails K-8 school had a voluntary uniform program. I, personally, never felt more unhappy in what I wore than at that time. I look horrible in a collared shirt and as a plus size woman, well it was unflattering. But I did it for as long as I felt I had to.

    Other than that, no uniform. I went to public school and did not wear a uniform. We had no money and I went to school with people who had money. I learned to deal with it. I started my career at IBM – I looked around at how people dressed there and learned how to dress for business. There are jobs that require uniforms, if you have one of those jobs, wear the uniform. I think many more jobs don’t require uniforms – they require appropriate dress. That is what we need to be teaching.

    I’m just glad I don’t have kids in school anymore. Well, actually two of them are in college, one getting his master’s and one getting her doctorate. Accomplished on their own dime, no uniforms. Good luck parents.

  18. Layla says:

    What kind of uniforms are we talking about? Uniforms can be lots of things, including regulation shorts and slacks to make them more wearable outside school as well. Sometimes uniform shirts are a solid color polo shirt with a collar. They must be worn tucked in. Tucked in shirts also prevent hiding weapons and other unappropriate items for school on the body.

    Doesn’t have to be expensive and usually a price deal is offered with the stores carrying the items to make it easier to afford because you are selling in bulk. Hope this helps.

    Did anybody feel attractive in school? I didn’t.

  19. Nancy N. says:

    To the parents saying that uniforms don’t hurt anyone, consider this: The school board ADMITS that the first year of implementation at the very least, the costs incurred to parents will be higher than parents usually lay out for school clothes. They say they will need to tap community resources like the educational foundation for donations to create a clothes closet to help the 60% of kids in the district that are on free and reduced lunch buy their uniforms.

    There is only so much money in this community that can be drawn upon for donation to our local schools. That isn’t a bottomless well! Do we REALLY think that the best use of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of our local community’s charitable dollars is to buy khakis and polo shirts for kids? Or would that money be better spent on things like technology for our schools, and support for educational extra-curricular activities, and grants for teacher training, and other things that are already proven to improve our schools? Because if we spend the money on clothes – it won’t be available for those other things. And our community schools desperately need all the help we can give them right now as their budgets are being slashed in all areas.

    Also, there are students in this district that will be directly harmed by a uniform policy on a daily basis. Many special needs students, like my autistic 8 year old daughter, will be excluded from the policy for reason of their disability and will continue to attend school in “regular” (non-uniform) clothing. This will have the effect of basically putting a neon sign on these kids labeling them as different – like they don’t already have a hard enough time fitting in during the inclusion activities that are arranged for them? Now the other kids will be able to tell from 100 feet away who the “different” one is. These kids will end up effectively segregated from the school population the same as if they were wearing a scarlet letter. Their lack of uniforms will make them untouchable by the regular kids. They’ll be completely unable to blend in! Life is difficult enough for those kids without branding them too!!!!!

    Bottom line: I refuse to stand by and let my kid become collateral damage in an experiment that we can’t afford and that all of the previous research shows will not work.

    • uniformity says:

      Here, here! I too have a disabled child and until I read this post had no idea they were going to be excluded from this policy. That brings to light a whole lot of other feelings and emotions. Our kids struggle to fit in on a daily basis and lets face it, kids can be cruel. We fight the good fight but our kids come out on the bottom of all situations. That is just not fair!!!!

  20. Amy C says:

    I don’t really have a huge arguement against it. I just don’t want other people to tell me what I can or can not put on my kids. I understand that there is a dress code now and my children comply. But don’t punish the many for what the few have done. My kids + public school should not = A dress code. If I was worried about my childrens behavior and academics and thought changing their clothes would matter I would switch them to Imagine or another Charter/private school. Public Schools Should not have Uniforms.

  21. Amy C says:

    I’m also a little tired of this debate. Every other year it’s come up since my oldest has been in school 9 years ago. Every time I am against. Enough is Enough! If you haven’t passed it in the past why pass it now. Is it a slow month for the board? Knock it off already..

  22. Jay Wheeler says:

    I am the only Osceola County School Board member still on the board who voted for school uniforms in Osceola Schools starting for the 2008-2009 school year. The woman who wrote this column has no clue about what she has written. In Osceola School uniforms has been a success by every measure. We have had an 86% documented decrease in gang related activity since we first put the policy into place.

    This is what happens when a uniform policy goes into effect. Day one will have 98% compliance. Day two and beyond will have 100% compliance. Why? Because kids want to fit in. We have 53,000 students who show up every day in gardes K-12 in school uniforms, We are in our fourth year and it is a great success, and will be a success in any public school district. All it takes is elected officials with the guts to make a hard decision regardless of the opposition of a very vocal minority.

  23. Doug Chozianin says:

    “Credible and Conclusive”… they sound like weasel-words to me.

    There are too many “incredible” and “inconclusive” studies and “empiricle” results that show school uniforms produce better behavior and better scholastic results.

    Parochial and private schools have a long history of using school uniforms and surpass public schools in virtually every category except violence, low grades and teen pregnancy.

    It seems to me we need school uniforms… now!

    Question: (Flagler County taxpayers spend ~$150 Million per year on a school system that achieves mediocre results at best…) Isn’t it worth trying something that has proved to be so beneficial in other school systems throughout the world? (If school uniforms, in the unlikely event, don’t affect positive results, worst case, Goodwill will get some unanticipated clothing donations.)

  24. Parent and employee says:

    Who is expected to pay for these uniforms? A lot of parents can not afford them. The school district has to keep cutting costs. School district employees had to give up days to help cut costs, students had to lose school time. What is next?

  25. DP says:

    Ok here we go again regarding school uniforms. A head butting incident by a student at Matanzas High school against a school resource officer starts this whole mess over again. I ask how a meeting with the school board and the county Sheriff over the SRO’s carrying tasers on duty at the school, reflect on a much needed uniform policy as some members of the “ELECTED” school board feel need to be a policy?
    It was quoted from an “ELECTED” school board member, during the meeting that the head butting incident would have never occurred if the accused student was wearing a uniform. Also it was also quoted by another “ELECTED” school board member that buying uniforms wasn’t going to add any additional expense’s to families in clothing their children and she thinks it’s a much needed policy.
    First and foremost I’m for the SRO to carry, and deploy the taser if warranted, it’s much better than the alternative of deadly force being used. I’m not saying that the taser is any less lethal, there will always be underlying conditions that can and or cause death. Secondly anybody could have been head butted by the student, regardless whether or not they were wearing a uniform. Thirdly how can it be stated that there would be no add costs to families? Children continue to grow through elementary school sometimes even out growing the clothes that were bought for the current school year. So buying school uniforms, then play clothes, & dress clothes sometimes twice a year is defiantly an undue financial burden placed on the families.
    I for one I’m against school uniforms. This is a “PUBLIC” school system paid for by tax dollars “MINE” as-is everybody else’s. Uniforms are for private schools. Instead of the “ELECTED” school board members once again overreacting to another unrelated incident and trying to push another regulation onto financially strapped families. They need to step back re-group, and think over the real problems that are occurring within our schools. We have school administrators, teachers, principles, and the like unwilling to enforce the school wide dress code policy. Why? Only they could answer that question. The schools are supposed to teach our children how to read, write, and do math. It’s the parent’s responsibility to ensure that their children are dressed, & treat each other accordingly, and if they happen to slip out un-noticed then the school should address the issue, by removing the student and contacting the parents so the proper clothing can be brought to the school so the child can change. Before requiring something that’s “GOING” to add additional financial burdens on an already stressed economy, enforce what’s in place, and if the school administrators, teachers, & principles can’t or won’t then they need to be disciplined, or they need to be replaced. As I’m sure there is somebody out there that would be more than happy to have a job.

  26. Nancy N. says:

    Ms Dickinson made a comment at the workshop on Tuesday about implementing a uniform policy being about self-preservation for the district because students were leaving the public schools to go to the charter schools and surveys say one of the reasons is that they want uniforms. I think this uniform push is really not about improving the schools but more about staying “competitive” as a “business” and preventing the flight of the higher income students out of the district into the charter and private schools because for whatever reason those parents want uniforms so if they don’t give them the uniforms they will take their business elsewhere.

    Mr. Wheeler – from a purely statistical standpoint, there is absolutely NO WAY that you can prove that the decrease in gang activity that you claim occurred was from uniforms. There are too many other shifting factors constantly at play in a school environment to prove that one caused the other. Like I said before – if gangs can operate in the strictly controlled environment of a prison, they can operate in a school that has uniforms.

    Doug, parochial and private schools don’t surpass public schools because they wear uniforms. They surpass private schools because they have better resources, more parent involvement, and can throw out students who don’t perform or who cause trouble, unlike public schools. The uniforms are just window dressing.

  27. parent and teacher says:

    Bring on the uniforms!!! I am with Sarah. I have seen them work. I have seen students become happier as a result of them. I have had students tell me after getting uniforms that they were glad that uniforms were implemented. I have seen discipline improve in schools.

    Nancy, get a clue. If you want to opt out for your kid, then you have that right. Your child can be the odd one out and you can make that decision for him. I want uniforms in the school and I will sign any petition that comes my way in support of them. I think that there are a lot of parents out there who will agree with me.

    The notion that they are more expensive is ridiculous. Uniforms are inexpensive. They cost much less than the outfits I am currently purchasing for my kids. As for having extra clothing, my kids both change out of their school clothes as soon as they get home now – why would it be any different with a unifor?

    • uniformity says:

      Parent and teacher
      My child will be opted out not because I do not agree with uniforms but because she will be opted out due to disability. Has all of your experience given you any insight to those children? Most of our kids suffer through school just because they are different, now you are putting a bullseye on thier backs.

  28. wow. says:

    this is stupid. if you expect the kids to like the school, then putting uniforms in the school will not help. yes, kids do need to dress appropriately, but uniforms? really? the kids already get introuble for showing certain things, that’s good enough. there is no need to buy clothes for all of them kids. kids should be able to wear what they want. also, if the they are making kids wear uniforms, i’d expect the teachers to too.

  29. Kyla Noelle says:

    What do i think about uniforms? THERE SHOULDNT BE ANY.!! Doesnt the flagler school board have more CRAP to go through BEFORE they decide on uniforms? What about busses? What about funding? What about teachers? What about classes? Or books, Or new lockers, OR ANYTHING ELSE THATS IMPORTANT HERE.!!! WHY ARE YOU WORRYING ABOUT UNIFORMS? someone tell what good it would do for the county. No matter what someones still gonna pick on someone, someone still gonna get hurt, someone still gonna get bullied. What if people cant afford them? You wanna do something new for the schools? MAYBE just MAYBE you should ytry doing something USEFUL for once, instead of making these RETAREDED choices.!!

  30. Lori says:

    If the district wants uniforms, the district should purchase uniforms. This district needs to work on more important issues before school uniforms. How about lockers for all students at ITMS? My daughter lugged a full backpack to every class last year as a 7th grader because ITMS only issues lockers to 8th grade students because they want maroon lockers. How messed up is that? She was then threatened with a referral for using a backpack with wheels so she didn’t have to carry a 20 lbs or heavier backpack through the day. It is stated above that Belle Terre purchases class shirts to be worn on field trip days, let me tell you, in 3 years of being here, one daughter has NEVER been on field trip and one got to go to Princess Place for a “green” presentation. Belle Terre doesn’t do field trips. So that excuse doesn’t fly that uniforms make it easier to keep students together on field trips. These schools don’t go on field trips. Uniforms cut down on gang violence? How many kids have come home from elementary school after a gang beat them up at school? None, and I know it isn’t happening at ITMS either. So, that excuse is out. Really, where is this coming from? The “let’s find a way to screw parents over more!” crew? Let’s focus on the important matters at hand like the need for teachers, the need for teachers to be given a raise, the need for lockers for students, the need for more funding, the need for walls that don’t leak in heavy down pours at schools, the need for the school day to be increased. I’m sorry, getting out at 1:40 is ridiculous. I went to school from 7:45 am to 3:36 every single weekday. No half days, and a whole heck of a lot less days off… I got Thanksgiving day and that was it. A week for the holiday? Nope. Buses for kids that live a mile away from ITMS. Parents are sending their kids to school on their bikes. Guess what? A middle schooler got hit by a car IN THE CROSSWALK yesterday at Belle Terre Parkway and Burroghs by someone yakking on their cellphone instead of watching the road. Gee, that could have been avoided by the child being put on a bus! These are so much more important than whether or not kids should wear uniforms. Wake up and smell the coffee people. Uniforms should be the last thing on anyone’s mind right now.

  31. Thanks but no says:

    If I wanted my kids to wear uniforms, I’d send them to a charter or private school.

    Lori, I agree that there are more important things to worry about. But you need to do the math on your calendar complaints. You say that you had fewer days off around holidays, but I bet you still went to school for 180 days. We could eliminate some of the holidays (or teacher workdays or inservice days that folks complain about) but the school year would still be 180 days long for students.

  32. anonomus says:

    personally i wish my school in cobb county would let us were uniforms expectantly if they are like the ones in the pic above
    (there so cute) >,:(
    oh and then it u don’t were whats in “fashion” u get made fun of
    its not fair -_-

  33. smartypants says:

    Since the decsion has been made for students to wear uniforms, what about the color? Are they planning to wear there school colors? At one time, I was in great favor of uniform’s, thinking how easy would be for ME to shop, and the kids would be all equal. But, I realized, when I was younger, in public school. It was easier to identify the private school students by there uniforms. Trouble still occurred among other schools. Some students would be sitting ducks, all because they wore their school colors.

    We are in such a bad economic crissis……We’ll be putting people out of work from sales clerk, cashiers, delivery drivers, to manufactor’s designer, warehouse workers…….u may not think it effects you but it does, because that sales clerk or deliveryman, and etc..would be unable to shop for groceries or paybills….that might not effect you personally, but it could effect someone you know and place them on the unemployment line along with them….we should be creating ideas to help this country grow, instead we are F***ing it up with stupid ideas, by putting people out of work. INSTEAD WE GOING TO GIVE ONE FAT CAT ALL OUR MONEY TO SPEND ON HIMSELF. Instead of allowing the money to be circulate from one hand to another and allow creative ideas to flow among our youth…..Parents have to be more responsible of how our children dress and what they purchase that is age appropriate, for school. THINK!! HOW CAN WE STOP THIS NONSENSE BEFORE IT TAKES EFFECT!!!

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