It is with much thought and prayer that we write this letter. The BOE is about to make a policy decision that impacts every resident of Bryan County.
Since the results from the original survey do not exist, it should be repeated. Each and every citizen of Bryan County, not just parents, should get to vote their opinion. The BoE decision will effect Bryan County Schools reputation, the community as a whole and property values.
Each and every taxpayer in the county should have a voice. Facts concerning pros and cons regarding uniforms need to be discussed in an open forum. There are a lot of parents/residents who do not even know the BoE is considering this policy for next year, not everyone reads the paper or looks in their child’s book bag.
It is a fact the current dress code addresses each and every issue listed in the "Policy Statement/Rational For School Uniforms" we received on May 14.
Collectively, we have four children in the school district grades 3rd, 7th, 10th and 11th, a good representation of the county as a whole. If the climate in any of these schools was like the climate addressed in the Policy Statement we wouldn’t let our children attend these schools and neither would most of Bryan County.
Newsweek just printed the top 1,200 Public High School in America. This list can also be found online. Out of the top 100 schools only two have Uniform Policies.
They are North Hills School, Irving, Texas and YES College Prep Southeast, Houston, Texas. A student must apply to these schools and be accepted, so in essence the wearing of the uniform is the choice the parent and child make together. All the other 98 schools only have dress codes, some less strict than Bryan County, some similar.
The overall theme of these schools in regard to dress and we will quote from the Rye High School Student Handbook, Rye, N.Y. (No. 43 on the list): "The responsibility for student dress, personal cleanliness and general appearance shall rest with the individual students and parents. However, the BOE requires students to attend school in appropriate dress....." and then it goes on to give a list of examples of what is unacceptable, much like the current dress code Bryan County has now.
All of the above information was either gathered by phone or by reading the various schools' student handbooks, most are available online.
Uniform use in public schools has primarily been used in schools that are spending more money on security and safety than they are on education. The school district everyone always uses for their facts is Long Beach, Calif. Here are the effects of uniforms (however, other security measures were also taken at the same time so it is hard to tell which is attributed to uniforms and which to the security measures) :
Overall, the crime rated dropped 91 percent
School suspensions dropped 90 percent
Sex offenses were reduced by 96 percent
Incidents of vandalism down 69 percent
Assaults in kindergarten through 8th grade down by 85 percent
The academic improvement was slight at best, their proficiency scores to date are barely at or below state average and the state averages for California are in the 48-59 percent proficient range. This school district has had uniforms in place for over five years. We can all agree these are not the problems faced by Bryan County Schools.
Compare Bryan County Schools to the schools listed above, we are more like the top 100 schools that have academic excellence, good parental role model/support, good teachers and no uniforms. We have nothing in common with the Long Beach, Calif., or other public school districts with similar characteristics that use uniforms primarily to combat violence, not to improve the academic climate.
Our kudos to the teachers of Bryan County, our children are thriving because of you! Teacher Appreciation was celebrated in Bryan County last week and one of the things they enjoyed was a full week of "dress down" days.
This also proves that no one likes to be told what to wear and are more comfortable when they can chose their own wardrobe. Should we as parents worry our kids did not get a good education last week – of course not.
The teachers performed their jobs the same as they always do and maybe even better because they were comfortable. Volunteering at the elementary school last week and observing the positive attitude from the teachers and students warms the soul.
We are blessed to live in such a fine community. The neighbors and friends that we have are some of the finest people in the world. That is why we chose to live here, first and foremost Bryan County schools for our kids – and when you chose good schools, good neighbors and friends follow.
This community is a reflection of the schools and the schools are a reflection of the community. We have the best parents around and the reason for our good test scores comes from the home and the emphasis we as parents put on education. As you can see from the above data uniforms may help violence problems, but they are certainly not needed for academic excellence.
Please, before you make your decision let the community come together and see if a uniform is really needed in our schools, get as many facts as you can. Your decision will impact every student, every parent and every taxpayer in the county. What picture do we want to paint of Bryan County Schools? That it is one of the best public school districts in the country or one of the worst?
Also, before you make your decision please look at the new yearbooks and tell us what you see? "Pictures are worth 1,000 words"
We see happy well adjusted administrators, teachers and students, who enjoy their day and are happy to be in school. The yearbook is beautifully done and the attitude of the schools, students and faculty shine through.
The diversity in our schools is a wonderful thing. Please do not make our children clones – they will never get their childhood back.
"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one." Malcolm Forbes
Richard and Andrea Reed
Chris and Jan Rice