Anyone walking around a public school in Benicia can see a wide range of clothing choices. At the high school and to a lesser extent at the middle school, kids walk a fine line between stylish and overly provocative. Messages on shirts can offend some while making others laugh.
Some in the community believe the solution is school uniforms. Some of the reasons uniforms are considered a good alternative are they lower the cost of clothing for parents, it helps identify visitors to the campus and it de-emphasizes economic disparities.
Today’s question: (from a reader) How do you feel about school uniforms?
The concept of uniforms has merit, however, many of the reasons public schools mandate uniforms are not as prevalent in BUSD. For example: gangs. However, we must stay diligent to ensure the reasons we may require uniforms don't occur. We must focus on safety, curriculum and opportunities, as well as ensure our parent groups maintain a voice in the education process. These issues are especially important at the middle and high schools.
I think if a lot of time is being wasted by enforcing the school policies on clothes then we should look into uniforms. I would like to see that all sites are enforcing the rules establish (or as heard many times at the Middle School) No Bellies, No Boobs, No Butts, and I would add that we don’t need to see your underwear or bra straps.
As one parent pointed out: school uniforms can save money for parents. Especially when torn, ragged, faded designer jeans can cost $65.00 per pair. And from a school behavioral point of view, school uniforms can ease the student's concern over what to wear, and how to look, and the distraction that clothing rivalry can cause.
From a disciplinary point of view, uniforms lower needs for supervision based on proper school clothing rules. However, I don't think that uniforms are usually the plan of choice for large school populations. Parents, staff and students should all weigh in on any plan for uniforms.
There are circumstances under which school uniforms are an appropriate and valuable tool to combat issues such as gang violence, property theft, and other serious safety concerns. During my time working with the DC Public Schools, I saw this policy enforced firsthand. In my view, however, Benicia Unified is not facing these challenges to a degree that would warrant adopting a mandatory school uniform policy.