Sunday, April 29, 2007

Uniforms at Laurel High - Guest Commentary

Laurel Connections is pleased to turn over the blog today to Mr. Bob Bain. Bob offers his thoughts opposing the recent vote to make uniforms mandatory at Laurel High. (See Pete Pichaske and Dan Schwind's Leader Article for details. Please use the comments section or contact me at g dot rick dot wilson at if you would like to respond via this blog.)

Opposed to LHS Uniforms

By Bob Bain, Laurel MD

I noted with sadness that Laurel High will be going to uniforms in the fall. I was sad because when I was in High School I felt, and still feel, that HS aged students are almost adults, some reaching 18 prior to graduation, and should be treated as such. If an adult wishes a position requiring uniforms, they are free to accept or decline the position. These students are not allowed this freedom. I wonder why this is? As a matter of fact, many things about this policy make me wonder.

I wonder if the staff will also be asked to wear uniforms? If this policy is such a great idea, should not the staff set the example? I have had many jobs where uniforms were mandatory and all staff had to wear them, not just those powerless to object. I also wonder how this will effect the ROTC unit. Will they be allowed to violate this policy weekly? And what of the spirit days where the classes wear their class colors? Will the class colors be changed to the uniform colors only?

I also wonder about the voting itself. I wonder how, less than a year ago, with virtually the same parents participating, this issue was defeated. I was surprised to see in the article that the number of responses was left out. Why is this? Could it be that a small number of parents are making the decisions for the group?

Last year when this issue was brought up at a PTA meeting, the meeting was crowded, loud, and, at least to me, strongly opposed to the policy. What has changed? I mean, if only 200 votes have been returned, then 163 parents (81.5% of respondents, according to the article) are making decisions that effect 1800 students. To use the math, less than 10% decide for the rest (9.06% to be more precise). Can this be considered fair?

A parent noted that uniforms would alleviate the need for trendy and expensive clothing to wear to school. Two things about this: 1. SAY NO TO THE TRENDY CLOTHING. 2. Do you actually think the kids won't still want to wear them after school? All this is doing is adding an expense for the uniforms, not removing the expense of the other clothes.

Left out of the Leader article was a clause I found in another publication. It seems that if 20% of parents sign a petition, then the whole issue is reevaluated. My question is: Is this 20% of the 1800 ballots mailed or 20% of those returned? It would seem unfair for the students and others who oppose this issue to need 360 signatures to counter 163 votes.

Finally, [the Leader] article mentioned two Elementary schools in Laurel who do not wear, and are not interested in, uniforms. How do these stack up against those that do require uniforms? Are their test scores lower or higher than the average of the others? And how does Laurel High disciplinary norms and test scores compare to schools in the county where uniforms are mandatory? More importantly, can any of these factors be attributed to clothing?


Bob Bain said...

I thank Rick for the posting, but there is one mistake. 20% of parents must sign the petition in order to have the issue reevaluated. My son and his friends are starting the petition drive now. If you wish an open diaglog about this issue, please sign the petition.

Rick Wilson said...

Sorry for the error. I've repaired my mangled editing job. I apologize for any confusion.

Sue said...

a better question to ask re whether uniforms are effective, might be to look at schools that have added or eliminated uniforms and to see how/if it affected performance...not just to look at schools w/ and w/o uniforms.