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Uniforms a small part of a whole effort

Posted By: Tammy Steele on January 3, 2009
 
Truly NO ONE thinks that school uniforms will, in and of themselves, reduce violence or improve behavior in a school. How could this author have thought we might think so? Uniforms have many benefits (cost, reduction of gang symbolism, school cohesion, reduced time getting dressed in the morning before school, etc.), but there is no one solution to the problems of education and anyone standing near a school knows that.

I was employed in one of the first Chicago Public Schools to adopt uniforms in the 1990s. The principal didn't want uniforms, the faculty didn't care, but the parents organized and held a vote which informed the local school council's decision to demand school uniforms. Parents enforced the policy. It was part of a larger effort to build school cohesion and leave the gangs with less to fight about. At the same time the school developed an arts-integrated curriculum which focussed on collaborative learning, multi-cultural projects exploring the various ethnic groups in the building (Chinese-American, Mexican-American, Afro-American, and Irish-Catholic) and performance and it bought a new reading program. The uniforms were part of it all. Scores went up. Civility was valued.
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 Uniforms a small part of a whole effort by Tammy Steele on January 3, 2009
 
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