Over the past few weeks, there has been renewed talk about school uniforms. Admittedly, there is much room for improvement in the Hoboken Public Schools. Hallmarks of successful schools usually include high expectations of students and teachers, a rigorous curriculum, and a sense of community, or belonging among the student body and faculty. The implementation of a school uniform policy does nothing to address these factors. Bringing up this tired band-aid of a solution is administrative laziness masquerading as educational policy. Let’s look at the facts
1. There is NO conclusive evidence of advantages of school uniforms in terms of reduced school violence or gang related problems. Nor do statistics prove that uniforms increase academic achievement. Supporters who promote uniforms are using misleading statistics. Moreover, these problems are deeply rooted and far beyond the scope of any uniform policy.
2. School uniforms DO NOT save families money. Making a kids’ current school wardrobe obsolete for school brings on additional expense. School uniforms also bring on additional administrative and legal costs for schools, which ultimately we would all have to pay for.
3. The opinion of the American Civil Liberties Union is that school uniform policies do violate First Amendment rights.
4. A mandatory school uniform policy stifles freedom of expression. Our society already has enough drones who continue making the mistakes of our predecessors. We need to foster creativity and independent thinking. We are obligated to provide an environment where children openly express their opinions and learn tolerance for the opinions of others.
Allowing kids to decide what to wear to school gives them the opportunity to develop decision-making skills and take responsibility for their choices in life. Schools can be happy, successful, peaceful places without uniforms. The proposal of mandatory school uniforms is a passive approach to solving some of the problems that plague our schools. Skeptical parents have every right to wonder whom on the Hoboken Board of Education or the new administration has ties to the uniform company.
There is much to be lauded in the Hoboken Public Schools. As the parents of two sons who have attended Hoboken Public Schools for the past 17 years, we can say that we have seen progress on a number of fronts. But sometimes it seems as if for every step forward, we take two steps backward. Implementing a policy of mandatory school uniforms would definitely be a step backwards. More often than not the causes for these backwards steps include a.) Board of Education politics and b.) An ever changing cast of administrators including the superintendent. For once, let’s actually put our children first and (with some parental involvement) trust them to make the right decisions.
Danny and Caroline Schott