As the parent of two Richmond Hill Middle School students I am strongly opposed to mandatory school uniforms. There is reputable national research that shows it does NOT accomplish the objectives stated by the Bryan County School District and, in fact, can be detrimental to students who are already "pro-school."
The Bryan County School Board says it is simply responding to parents with its proposed school uniform policy. But there appears to be no effort on the board’s part to research this issue and determine if school uniforms will actually meet the objectives they have stated.
For instance, the proposed policy says uniforms "… will help create an atmosphere of equality by minimizing economic differences among students, will lower overall clothing costs, and will control the ‘fashion statement’ aspect of dress." This seems to be one of the most common statements made in support of uniforms, yet nothing could be further from the truth! Requiring school uniforms heaps a huge financial burden on parents who must now purchase an entire second wardrobe - for each of their children - before the first day of school. By my estimates, that comes to at least $200 per child!
Who will pay for school uniforms for those families who cannot afford them? Will our taxes now be diverted away from education and into a fund for uniforms? Will area businesses be hit up to fund this expenditure? No one with the school district or board is talking about that little detail.
Uniforms may, indeed, eliminate competition among students to wear the latest fashions. This will undoubtedly prepare them for the real world where, of course, there is no competition in dress, salary, house size, etc. While they’re at it, maybe the school board could go ahead and wipe out grades and competitive sports, too. There is probably way too much competition among students over those. How ridiculous! Instead, allow parents to use this opportunity to teach their children what is really important.
The proposed uniform policy also states, "The administration expects to experience the results experienced by other systems … a higher percentage of student attendance, improved behavior, demonstration of school pride and group spirit, increased self-confidence …" If school board members would take a look at the 1998 study conducted by researchers at the University of Notre Dame ("The Effects of Student Uniforms on Attendance, Behavior Problems, Substance Use and Academic Achievement," by David L. Brunsma and Kerry A. Rockquemore) they would find that none of those results could be linked to school uniforms. In fact, they discovered one result that you won’t hear about from our school officials. The researchers found that students who were previously "pro-school" exhibited worse behavior problems than their counterparts after they were forced to wear uniforms.
Ultimately, school uniforms are simply a matter of personal choice. If some parents want uniforms, let them have them. But allow the rest of us parents to "opt out" for any reason. That’s what the Long Beach, Calif., school district does - and it is the district that is most often cited for experiencing positive results with its school uniform policy. The Bryan County School Board should listen to ALL parents on this issue and make a decision that works for everyone.Sincerely,