Not long ago, I visited Burwell, a small town in central England where I took a morning walk each day along narrow curved streets with the aroma of fresh baked bread in the air and children — ages 6 to 16 — waiting on corners for their school bus. Those kids caught my attention. Every one carrying books, neat and tidy, hair combed, well behaved and beaming with pride and self-esteem. At least, it seemed that way. What was so different?
It’s the rule, not the exception throughout many locals in England. Each child goes to school without competing for style and attention by what they wear. There is no societal status — no rich, no poor. The have-nots need not feel inferior because of what they wear. The haves need not feel superior. The kids go to school to learn, not to out-fashion one another. There is no sexy garb, no filth, no piggishness. If they feel good about themselves, they will perform good. Most of all, the schools are safer. Aye, there’s the rub.
Contrast that to the school scene within the United States. Mini-skirts. Body piercing. Flip flops and dirty feet. Low-rise shorts bared to the pubic region. Baseball hats turned left, right and backwards. Oversized shirts draped over the waist bands. Pants dragging the floor, baring underwear, hanging so that the kid must use one hand to hold them from falling. With it, comes attitude, low self-esteem and poor performance.
It’s no wonder that American kids are academically deficient on the world stage. Recent testing of fifteen-year-old kids among 30 industrialized nations show science scores among U.S. kids rank 17th. Math scores, the same kids ranked 23rd. If the kids look like crap, they’ll act like crap, and perform like crap.
The proverbial tail is wagging the dog, and our society — parents, schools and government institutions — have allowed it.
Regardless of how folks may feel about their freedoms of choice being infringed, one reason stands above all others that justifies the implementation of school uniforms: Safety and violence.
When I finished four years of high school in 1957, drugs and weapons were not part of the general landscape. Can’t say that today.
Here’s a few numbers: In the 2002, American schools confiscated 2,554 firearms, with Virginia the highest among states, and Texas second. From July 1st 2004, to June 30th, 2005, forty-eight deaths were reported among elementary and secondary schools. In a five-year study ending in 2002, an average of 90,000 teachers per year were the victims of violent crimes. One out of three teachers surveyed have considered leaving the profession because the risk from violence was so high.
Folks interested in more data, check the site: Click here: http://www.ncdjjdp.pdf
There is no doubt in my mind, that uniforms — or at the least — dress codes requiring specific standards would make our schools a safer place. Check out this 53 second video:
The issue has been addressed in many school districts throughout America. A few have initiated uniform wear at the objections of kids and parents. Some have capitulated to complaints and reverted back to allowing slobbery. But it’s not catching on.
If I had the magic wand, I’d see all school kids in America wearing uniforms. I know that’s not very likely to happen, but we can demand stricter dress codes, if not for any other reason but to make our teachers and kids safer on campus. Here’s a list for starters:
* No over sized clothing. All trousers, pants or shorts must totally cover undergarments, including boxer shorts. All shirts must be tucked in.
* All shirts and blouses must cover midriff and all undergarments including bra straps at all times. All shirts and tops shall have sleeves and cover the shoulders. No see-through or mesh.
* All clothing, jewelry or tattoos shall be free of profanity, violent images, sexually suggestive phrases or images, gang-related symbols and drug endorsements.
* Hats or other head coverings may be worn during outside P.E. activities and not inside the school.
* No bandanas, sweatbands or sunglasses may be worn inside school buildings
That would be a start. I just want to see teachers free of fear so we can hold on to the best professionals, and kids free of weapons so there will be less violence. It would also be nice if our children felt a little better about themselves. I do believe the two – self esteem and performance – are interrelated.
I’m not holding my breath. Schools have a tendency to capitulate to parents who in turn, capitulate to their kids. And the proverbial tail continues to…you know what.
If anyone is interested what other states are doing about this, check: Click here: Dress Codes