Let me begin by saying that I have been very pleased with the governing decisions of the members of Bedford County Board of Education and the way the county's school system has been run since my first child started school. I have also been pleased beyond all expectations with Liberty School, Principal Tim Harwell, and everyone there that I have come in contact with.
This said, I would like to share several concerns I have relating to the possibility of Standardized School Attire (SSA) being implemented in our county schools. There is more to this issue than the possibility of improved security and grades.
One reason given for wanting to implement SSA is to relieve pressure from socio-economic tensions, namely the haves and have-nots. I am concerned that this could instill a mindset in our children from a very young age that is contrary to what our country is known for. Could SSA teach children that the easiest way to tolerate others is for no one to have any more than anyone else, that we must all have the same in order for society to not be in chaos? We should expect a certain amount of stress between classes, as they are still children and still learning to control themselves. And we should, as parents and grandparents, be taking a more active role in teaching our children that there are different social classes and that is okay, as we should all be striving to better ourselves.
Another reason given for the approval of SSA is security. I do not believe it will be as beneficial in this area as expected. I understand that Board of Education members have visited other schools and seen it in action, but I have recently spoken with a family member that attends Hunters Lane High School in Nashville and have been given an account from a student perspective. He stated that he believes there are still guns and knives in the school and there is still much gang activity.
Interestingly, he said the problem now is that teachers cannot recognize gangs as easily as they could before, but the students still know who they are. I do realize this is one student's view, but it is the view of a student who has attended a school before and after SSA. By the way, even with SSA, he is still a C and D student.
I am very concerned that the main reason the Board of Education wants to implement SSA is for business reasons. After reading many articles about the Three-Star Community program and possibly having its guidelines tightened, I am almost convinced that it is part of the reasoning behind pushing for SSa. The push, as it should be, has been to make our community attractive to new business and industry, but now it seems our children are being standardized so the look of the schools may be more pleasing too.
I personally don't think we should push our children to this level. Looking nice at school is one thing, but they are children in a public school, not adults in a business office or factory.
Among other concerns I have, such as expense of clothing, tucking in of shirts for young and overweight children, belts on kindergarteners and first graders, not allowing jackets in class, and a few others, I am troubled over what a school board member recently told me. I was told that this person votes their conscience, not what constituents want, and if it is wrong then their constituents could vote them out at the next election. On issues of morality and finances, it may be necessary to vote your conscience to not violate Biblical standards of morality or risk putting the school system in jeopardy of not having the necessities for education. But in issues such as this, which come down to preference, one should strongly consider the views of the majority of the people they represent.
I will be happy to discuss my views with any of the school board members. However, I am concerned that their minds might be as set as mine is on this issue.