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Friday, May 26, 2006

Taking on the School Board

I admit it, I am a bit nervous, but will not deter me from fighting against a school board that has already show the level of silly decisions they will make.

The new battle that I am going to undertake is the Board of Educations attempt to put uniforms in our public schools. Now it is easy enough for me to point to the fact that there is Supreme Court precedent in Tinker et al. v. Des MoinesIndependent Community School District et al. that the Board of Education can not impede on a students freedom of expression. But I do not have the kind of money that afford to make a (literally) Federal case out of this and challenge it to the Supreme Court. Besides, if I can not get an immediate injunction pending the outcome of the case, my daughter will probably be long out of the school system by the time this case is completed.

I am appreciative that Kathy Howe, gave me a starting point for my arguements with an excellent list of reasons that school uniforms are a bad idea. This is very helpful, because I am so steamed about this. Not just about the school uniforms themselves (though that would be bad enough), but the way the school is trying to just shove this program down our throats.

It is obvious that they have been working on this idea for a while, because they have already budgeted $40,000 of taxpayer money so they can "provide" the first shirt for each kid "free" to "ease" the bugetary strain on parents. Pause a momment and re-read that sentence. Let the irony of it settle in and have a good laugh. (For the dense among us, which includes apparently my hometown school board: TAXING us so that we you can "give" us a shirt, does not make it FREE!)

Now any time while they were considering this assinine move, they could have solicited feedback from parents. But in an attempt to ensure there is little to no time for people that do not like the idea to band together (or give people enough time to actually THINK about it before redering an opinion), they opt to wait until JUNE to spring this on parents for this fall. The school year is almost over. Most if not all PTA meeting at local schools are done for the year, leaving precious little time and ability for parents to congregate and together discuss the pros and cons of proposal. No they wait until June to have an informational meeting on the subject to "get parental feedback." What feedback are they looking for? They have already budgeted this program into the next years plans. This is nothing but a Cover Your Ass meeting, so that when people finally look at this program and complain, they can say, "well you had an opportunity to speak up."

Next, they release the information aboout the program to the local papers. In an attempt to garner support for the program in advance, the primary reasons provided are the "picking on kids" who "can not afford" designer clothers, and... wait... get ready for this... "safety" and, the most laughable of all, "being able to ID the kids"

Let's start with the easiest (and silliest) reason, "being able to ID the kids." They would be THE SMALL PEOPLE that are in the school. Are adults (presumably ones short enough to fit in grammar school seats), sneaking into school for an afternoon of Social Studies?

When you look out over the schoolyard, are you not able to identify the pedophile offering the kid candy from students playing together, unless you can identify them by the shirt they are wearing? Perhaps then your problems go beyond what a uniform can solve. But this also brings us to the issue of "safety". What does a single colored shirt and pair of khaki pants keep our children safe from? Abduction? Will the child wearing a uniform make it easier to spot an abductor? Every study that uses the words "safety" and "uniforms" together discuss one thing. SECONDARY SCHOOL. Using excuses like "Columbine" as an example where children were selected "for the clothes they wore" they try and argue that somehow the tragedy at Columbine High School wouldn't have happened if they where wearing uniforms. First of all does that really make sense to anybody? If they didn't pick out the students they were targeting "by their clothes" (which of course is impossible to prove in the first place) they would have picked them out by some other factor. The "reasons" these kids when on this spree (as published an publicized) was that they were outsiders that were not well liked by other groups. A uniform would not have lead them to suddenly NOT be outsiders. Cliques still form whether or not a uniform is worn in the school. But before I wander too far off here, "safety" is also associated with the removal of "gang colors" from schools, again something far more prevalent in High Schools than in Grammar schools.

Now again, using "examples" like Columbine, they try to tell people that kids get picked on because their parents can not afford to buy them the latest trendy clothes. First of all, I live in a completely middle class town. There is nobody wearing Prada to school here. For the most part clothes are very similar in quality, whether from The Children's Store, Target, K-Mart, Wal-Mart or other similar type of store, there is very little different except the tastes of the children and parents that buy the clothes. Second, some kids admittedly can be cruel and enjoy picking on other kids. But the problem is, these same kids will pick on whatever they can find. If it isn't the clothes, then it is the shoes, the haircut, the backpack, how fat a kid is, how skinny a kid is, and so on. Teaching people to get along goes much further to solving that situation than a uniform does.

But of course, the school board is trying to use parents fears to justify this Draconian practice of turning our children into little matching drones, that all look and act alike in a very Gattaca kind of setting.

I this saying I am nervous. The reason I am nervous, is first of all that I am afraid that I am the only one that is seeing through this farce, or at least seeing it in time to make a difference. I am also afraid of failing my daughter if I can not get them to see the error of their ways. (Sometimes I wish I could just close my eyes and be ignorant and/or complacent, but I am just not wired that way.)

Advise, suggestions and opinions are greatly appreciated. Just don't bother to try and sell me the "benefits" of uniforms.

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