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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

SSA essay, eh?

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2007, at 12:41 PM

I am very curious to hear what happens Thursday at the first of several planned public forums on Standardized School Attire. I covered the school board as they started researching the issue last spring, and again this fall. We've gotten a number of responses here on the web site to our recent news stories and our poll on the topic.

I hope that these public meetings can generate some real dialogoue on the issues. As with any issue, there are people on either side who have carefully-considered, thoughtful viewpoints on the topic, and there are people on either side who are unreasonable and whose arguments hold water like a colander.

I can say, based on the field trips I went on with the school board last spring and this fall, that the educators we met were sold on the benefits of SSA. They all seem to sincerely believe that it has made an impact on overall school attitude in their schools. Critics of SSA say that the scientific evidence doesn't show any correlation between SSA and school performance or discipline problems. In some cases, such as Chattanooga Central High School, which was visited last May, SSA was implemented at the same time as other reforms, and so if there is an improvement in student behavior it's hard to quantify how much of that is really due to SSA and how much of it is due to something else.

I was greatly amused by the commenter who proclaimed that our brave soldiers fought and died for the right of students to wear whatever they wanted. I doubt that most veterans would say they had that particular right in mind when they signed up for duty -- especially since the service members themselves are expected to wear uniforms. I couldn't resist responding to the woman who said that the conformity required by SSA would squelch students' creativity and might thereby prevent some great novel from being written or some great scientific discovery from being made. I had to point out that a number of fine novels have been written by authors who attended prep schools and who had a much stricter dress code than anything proposed under SSA.

But, as I wrote in an opinion column for the newspaper, I think the school board should take a hard look at the specific rules and regulations being proposed. If there's not a good reason for a particular rule or a particular aspect of SSA, it needs to be left out. For example, the fact that someone thinks a smaller number of allowed colors looks better than a larger number isn't a good reason, unless you also have some indication that a smaller number of colors has an impact on achieving the goals of SSA.

It's a complex issue, and the school board members need to hear from people on both sides of it, as well as from people in the middle.


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20 years ago{or more}, I did not attend a school with standard attire--just reasonable, and I dressed as wild as my parents allowed. I graduated in the top 25 of a class of 300. My kids have not been required to wear standard attire and they graduated top also. If gangs are the reason for the suggestions, then the gangs need to be dealt with, not the other students who are not causing any problems and who are working to their abilities.

-- Posted by neena on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 4:47 PM

AMEN!!!!!!!

-- Posted by tnlovers on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 7:45 AM

I have been out of highschool for some time but my senior year we did a school wide vote by the students as to what we thought about SSA. It was divided pretty equally if memory serves me. There are so many rules on clothes worn to school now that a few extra ones didn't hurt my feelings. By the time I was a senior in high school I was buying my own clothes. I had to buy "school appropriate" clothes. My thinking was that if I wore a uniform to school, then another uniform to work I could buy whatever kind of clothes I wanted to wear in my free time. I liked that idea. While alot of kids were screaming "don't take away my indiviuality" I was thinking to myself that a child is an individual no matter what they wear and if clothes are the only way they knew how to show that then they need some new direction to start with. I don't get to have an opinion now as I am no longer in high school and my children have at least another 2 years before entering school. Maybe it won't pass this time but I'm pretty sure that by the time my children are in grade school it will be something that has always been done.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 7:57 AM

I have 4 children in school and another in 2 years and I really don't care except for a few things: wearing a belt and tucking your shirt in seems a bit excessive to me and I know that my children would not like the fact that they could not wear blue jeans!!!

-- Posted by jssg1975 on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 8:42 AM

At Central tucking in your shirt has been a rule for awhile now.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 9:14 AM

I don't understand why this dress code should apply to all ages. What purpose would it serve to make 5-6 year olds dress this way? All of the arguments are about brand name clothes, security, revealing clothing, and gang colors. None of those issues are relevant to primary school students. I think small children should be able to wear clothes that they feel comfortable wearing. Do we really want to punish a five year old because he doesn't know how to tuck in his shirt?

-- Posted by Richard on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 2:04 PM

"...My thinking was that if I wore a uniform to school, then another uniform to work I could buy whatever kind of clothes I wanted to wear in my free time. I liked that idea. While alot of kids were screaming "don't take away my indiviuality"...

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 7:57 AM

How many sets of clothes would you then have to buy? That is one of the concerns expressed by many parents. You would have to purchase at least 2 sets of clothes and 3 if you wear different clothes for Church. When I was growing up we did.

Also, many workplaces that require uniforms pay for them and maintain them and if you don't like the uniform, you don't have to work there. I don't think the school system will do that and in the long run, those of us who actually pay govt taxes would have to pay for that.

I guess we could all dress like Star Trek. Is that the future we want?

-- Posted by clarabelle on Thu, Nov 15, 2007, at 4:42 AM

clarabelle, I would have been able to buy the clothes I liked, not the ones that were "school appropriate". I most always had two sets of clothes growing up though. I had "school" clothes and "play" clothes. You know the drill, come home from school, finish homework, change clothes go outside and play til dinner was ready....

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Thu, Nov 15, 2007, at 7:07 AM

I am an advocate of younger kids in uniforms. Today too many young girls are dressing like the "Bratz" dolls and have role models like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Maybe uniforms (along with the right support from parents, of course) will help younger girls realize that they can be and feel beautiful in clothes that cover their bodies.

-- Posted by pleasebenice on Thu, Nov 15, 2007, at 9:01 AM

PLUS, I saw my neice this week who attends public schools in Nashville. She had on her school attire but you wouldn't have known it. She had on a khaki skirt, purple polo and cute tights. She looked and felt cute. I don't think that the "uniform" look is going to be as STIFF as we all picture it to be.

-- Posted by pleasebenice on Thu, Nov 15, 2007, at 9:04 AM

If it is something the school requires, such as textbooks, then it is something the school should fund. Simply put.... And we all know, schools can't afford much of anything, because those who allocate tax dollars aren't aware that education is more important than repaving roads that were repaved 4 years ago.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Thu, Nov 15, 2007, at 10:07 PM

Evidently nobody saw what Britney Spears did to her uniform in her first video . . . LOL!

To me this whole SSA issue is just another band aid that the school system is trying to put on a real problem and that problem is that parents aren't doing their job at home and teachers are having to be forced to do it for them and can not. So many parents let their children dictate what they are going to do instead of the parents setting the example. It is sad really because so many parents would rather act as their child's friend instead of parenting.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Nov 16, 2007, at 12:14 PM

A dress code might not be so bad if it stressed comfort,safety and efficiency rather than a spirit of fear and disapproval.

A practical and attractive wardrobe that 'just happened' to avoid apparel that was shoddy, dangerous or in bad taste would provide clothing staples that could be worn outside of school for all 'dress casual' occasions.

A lot of fad items would be excluded from schoolwear but that would prompt kids to pick the ones they wore 'off-duty' according to which had the best quality and longest 'shelf life' or they'd choose to pay little to meet the current trends.

(Why pay half your budget for things you wear 2% of the time?)

Students would pick up by osmosis a sense of what is appropriate for what activities.

They'd get their 'rites of passage' from their garments getting longer as they grew older with 'dressing like an adult' meaning more 'what to wear to a job interview' than 'what to wear to the clubs.'

The transition might be confusing and costly but if school attire were purchased as dispassionately as work clothes or travel wear,then the youngsters could have a handful of useful,affordable and timeless pieces that could be combined to reveal the students' style instead of smothering it by imposing the will of either the school or the fashionistas.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Fri, Nov 16, 2007, at 2:20 PM


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