When it comes to some issues, it's impossible to make everyone happy. That saying seems particularly appropriate when it comes to the controversy over a proposed school uniform policy.
For the record, we think there’s nothing wrong with a sound school uniform policy so long as it’s fairly implemented, fairly enforced and doesn’t put a financial burden on parents. And from the looks of it, the uniform policy proposed by Bryan County school officials is fair and affordable.
Despite that, this policy has run into strong and vocal opposition from some. We base that on letters to the editor, blogs and two admittedly unscientific polls on our website at www.bryancountynews.net.
The first was posted on our website on March 17 and asked simply, "Do you think school uniforms are a good idea?’
By April 11, the numbers for that poll showed those who voted thought uniforms were a good idea by a 282-185 margin. Contrast that with more recent numbers involving the same poll, which now shows that 331 people think uniforms are a good idea and 312 think they aren’t.
And compare the above numbers with results from a newer poll, which asks "Should the Bryan County school board institute a uniform policy for next school year?" So far, 177 have voted no while 88 voted yes.
What’s more, it’s clear many of those who don’t want the policy blame Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sallie Brewer, who seems to be a lightning rod for just about every school-related controversy in the county. But to be fair, Brewer noted recently that 73 percent of the teachers polled on the subject were in favor of uniforms. And since we’re sharing numbers, here are a few more. According to information provided by Brewer to a News reporter when the uniform policy first became news, here’s a school-by-school breakdown of how "certified staff" members voted. Yes, by the wy, means in favor of a policy.
Richmond Hill Primary: 30 yes, 19 no
Richmond Hill Elementary: 20 yes, 22 no
Carver Elementary: 30 yes, 7 no
Richmond Hill Middle: 45 yes, 14 no
Richmond Hill High: 57 yes, 17 no
Lanier Primary: 18 yes, 14 no
Bryan County Elementary, 27 yes, 4 no
Bryan County Middle: 29 yes, 7 no
Bryan County High: 30 yes, 9 no
Pre-K: 12 yes, 0 no
Alternative: 4 yes, 0 no.
In other words, and according to numbers provided by Brewer, 302 of the 415 "certified staff" members in Bryan County’s school system were in favor of uniforms. And a majority of teachers at every school except one were for the policy.
If that’s the case, and we’ve no reason to believe it isn’t, it appears Brewer is merely following the will of a sizeable majority of those she's tasked with leading. There’s nothing wrong with that. What’s more, we believe teachers deserve their say on this issue.
At the same time, Brewer also said a survey of all parents listed school uniforms as one of the top 10 objectives for improving schools.
Yet judging by all the information we've looked at, it's pretty clear there are plenty of people on both sides of this issue.
That's what makes this such a tough decision for the school board. But it's a decision we believe needs to be made soon, one way or the other, so the BoE and administrators can get on with the important task of educating this county's children.
May 16, 2007
Bryan County News