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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Standard Mode of Dress rearing its ugly head in Forsyth County

Remember the crazy fight that a lot of good folks here in Rockingham County, North Carolina fought in 2007 (at right) against Standard Mode of Dress: the euphemistic term for what are really school uniforms? It took about four months and the Board of Education had previously approved of the policy... but in the end, with a lot of passion and a little creativity, the board then reversed its decision and the school uniforms went down in flames.

Now comes word that much the same is happening to some of our friends a few counties over in Forsyth. Janet Marsh, the mother of a student at Wiley Middle School, alerts us to this story at the Winston-Salem Journal website. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to implement Standard Mode of Dress at Wiley Middle during its January 13th meeting. But opponents of the policy contend that many parents felt too "intimidated" to rise in opposition because of how the information on those wishing to address the board was being recorded at the meeting and because of this, several parents feared retaliation against their children. There was also a sense of "restless urgency" regarding how fast the board pursued the policy, Marsh said. And in an e-mail to The Knight Shift she shared more of her concerns...

"I am a NOSMOD mom at Wiley Middle School and the administration is trying every trick in the book to push this measure through before anyone can really object. I was denied a request for an open forum for discussion and ended up having to stand outside the school for three days in the pouring rain trying to hand out my "Ten Good Reasons to Oppose SMOD" flier before the final ballot was issued. I won't bore you with all the gory details, but many of the parents at our school who would like to object won't come out as we had to put our names on the ballots and they feared repercussions."
Janet Marsh has asked me to pass along the link at the Winston-Salem Journal to the readers of this blog, and even if she hadn't asked I would have gladly shared it with y'all anyway.

And on behalf of those who have fought this kind of thing before, we wish our brethren in Forsyth County all the best in their own struggle against school uniforms! :-)


Anonymous said...

Maybe I am old fashioned, but I see nothing wrong with SMOD. We had it back in the 80s when I was in school. And with the styles of today and many parents letting their young children dress any old way, I think it's important that kids learn what appropriate dress is. Imagine the first job interview without this education. Would the now young adult who never learned what was appropriate show up with pants sagging half way down his backside? Would she show up in a low-cut mid-drift exposing too much skin? Like it or not, society looks at these things during job interviews. Just my two cents worth.

Anonymous said...

Yep, it's a complete non-issue when the level of LEARNING is so poor in our public schools. I've rarely seen anyone on this board voicing concern about that, but they all go nuts about what clothes the kids might have to wear. Somehow, they equate it to government intervention ... quite a stretch with so many real problems in the schools.

Susan T. said...

School uniforms represent not only an affront to a child's individuality, but an erosion of their civil liberties. Rules that serve no meaningful purpose represent abuse of authority, and are a betrayal of the trust our children have put in us.

Students should be made to feel that they are partners in the educational process-not victims of it. Forcing schoolchildren to wear uniforms indicates a lack of confidence in their ability to make responsible choices.

The learning process should be a cooperative effort, with students, teachers, and administrators working towards a common goal. Uniforms interfere with the exercise of personal liberties and create resentment instead of what could be a productive environment built on mutual tolerance and respect.

Uniform advocates rely on perceptions-not statistics-to support their arguments. They support a false confidence in a superficial sense of order. All uniforms really do is create the illusion that things are better than they really are.

There are no scientific studies that show uniforms improve a student's behavior, or their ability to learn. In fact the opposite is true. Uniform schools rank at the bottom academically, and actually have more disciplinary problems than those who don't.

Uniforms are detrimental to student morale. Polls have consistently shown they'd much prefer to keep their options open. Children have so few opportunities to express themselves freely and use their own judgment. Why hinder a normal developmental stage in the life of a child with frivilous and arbitrary prohibitions?

There will always be variations to exploit, even within the limitations of the most draconian of dress code policies. Unless the purchase of the uniform is limited to a single source, the quality of the garment itself will betray the socioeconomic status of its wearer. It is foolish and unrealistic to imagine you can ensure equality by legislating sameness.

The most common type of uniform utilized in US public schools today is identifiably preppy. This is a style traditionally associated with a certain set of qualities: Self-serving motives. Shallow values. A socially irresponsible aquisition based lifestyle. All modes of dress are representative on some level. There is no truly generic statement.

The learning process should be a cooperative effort, with students, teachers, and administrators working together in the interest of a common goal. Uniforms interfere with the exercise of personal liberties and create resentment instead of what could be a productive environment built on mutual tolerance and respect.

Educators need to focus on the real issues. They need to spend more time encouraging an appreciation of diversity and less time waging war on fashion trends they just don't like.