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A plausible uniform policy
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It seems some parents are upset over the Bryan County Board of Education’s decision to allow only the week of spring break for them to compose an email or letter on the proposed school uniform policy. That doesn’t mean the plan itself is bad.

Actually, it sounds reasonable to us, based on the draft of an information sheet sent home to parents last Friday. Of course, as the information sheet notes, the policy likely will change as parental input is taken into account.

Still, there seems nothing Draconian about the draft policy. Students can wear solid tan, beige or navy pants, shorts, skirts, skorts, jumpers, capri pants or slacks. Tops can be polo-style shirts, collared blouses or shirts, or turtlenecks in either white, red, gold or navy.

Sweaters, vests or sweatshirts can be worn if they’re solid white, red, gold or navy. Jackets and coats have to meet the requirements of the dress code in the student handbooks, but aren’t subject to color restrictions.

The no-nos are jeans, cargo pants, knits and those pants with "extraneous items" such as extra pockets or zippers. Hooded sweatshirts also are outlawed in the draft policy, as are floor length coats.

The decision to adopt a uniform policy, which still has to undergo a second reading and some tweaking, came about as the result of a survey of parents which "designated requiring uniforms as one of the top 10 system improvement objectives," according to the BoE. Uniform policies are a growing trend in our area. Chatham County implemented one this school year and Effingham County’s school board just approved a policy last week.

Like most plans, however, school uniform policies are a mixed bag -- though we believe the positives outweigh the negatives. Apparently, so do many of our readers. A recent poll on showed those who voted thought school uniforms were a good idea by a 282-185 margin.

There are several positives. For one thing, if expensive uniforms aren’t mandated, and this doesn’t appear to be the case in Bryan County, then one positive is it will save parents money and time. School uniforms also should cut down on peer pressure and distractions while also making it easier to spot kids who don’t belong on campus.

Yet there are negatives which should be taken into full account by the BoE. For one thing, the very idea of a uniform is stifling to some, and that’s why students should be allowed to express their individuality as much as possible without disrupting the educational environment.

For another, there could well be some who can’t afford the required clothing, no matter how inexpensive it may be. Our hope is the BoE and schools, along with civic groups, will find a way to ensure a clothing fund is set up to help the families of those children.

And finally, it’s not likely that school uniforms will magically erase all the problems inherent in today’s educational environment. Kids, after all, will be kids and some no doubt will look to push the envelope, whether it be in rebelling against a dress code or anything else. But taking all things into consideration, it appears now is a good time to implement such a policy, so long as it’s affordable and fair to all kids.

Bryan County News

April 11, 2007

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