Wednesday, April 18, 2007

School Uniforms

Uniforms in public schools? It's a topic of discussion at my house.

My youngest daughter is just finishing up at South Junior High, which implemented Boise Schools' first-ever mandatory-uniform policy this year. And she's headed for Borah High, which is seriously considering doing the same, beginning next year.

Based on my daughter's comments, she's against it, but not "rabidly" against it.

Frankly, I'm not sure how I feel about it.

There are some letters to the editor in today's daily newspaper, arguing both sides of the issue. (Strangely, they're both from men... the affected girls seem way more animated about the issue, than the boys.)

David Everhart of Nampa says: "If somebody is wearing a revealing or offensive clothing, then the current code says send them home. Much like gun laws or immigration, enforce the current laws and new ones will be unnecessary.

"Spare me the notions of class equality. There will always be the 'haves and have nots.' You could force rich kid to wear the same uniform as poor kid, but are you going to ban him/her from driving his BMW to school? Are you going to tell them that the rich/poor barrier magically disappears after high school? There's lots of grownups in uniform right now who are fighting and dying for these kids' right not to wear one, so let it go."

I don't know about the kids' right to not wear a uniform, or people fighting for that particular freedom, but I agree with the rest. (I don't know if the First Amendment extends to attire as "freedom of speech.")

But then, Dan Fisher of Boise makes this point: "Some Borah High students equate uniforms with suppressed creativity. That's a shallow perspective. Remove the superficial exterior from the equation and perhaps students will begin to identify themselves with their thoughts, not their threads. For the truly original students I've known, it wasn't about what they wore; it was about what they thought."

It's hard to argue with either one of those persuasive arguments.

I suggested to my daughter a compromise - uniforms required, but the uniforms would be a costume as worn by your favorite "Village People." That would preserve "creative expression," while maintaining decorum, no? As she does ever-so-frequently, my daughter just groaned and rolled her eyes.


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