School Uniforms—and Not

Hey shades­ong—this was in my e‑mail this morn­ing and I thought of Elay­na’s school.


In 1994, Long Beach, Calif., was the first big-city pub­lic school dis­trict to adopt uni­forms. When school crime rates dropped 22 per­cent the first year, the dis­trict quick­ly became a mod­el for the country. 

Soon edu­ca­tors and politi­cians began to hold up uni­forms as cure-alls: noise and dis­ci­pline prob­lems went down, atten­dance and test scores went up. Uni­forms would blur dis­tinc­tions between rich and poor and short-cir­cuit the age-old com­pe­ti­tion over clothes. 

For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton urged uni­forms in two State of the Union addresses.

But in the spring of 1999, a par­ent at a Cal­i­for­nia junior high school object­ed to manda­to­ry uni­forms, say­ing the pol­i­cy vio­lat­ed stu­dents’ con­sti­tu­tion­al right of free expression. 

A news­pa­per arti­cle point­ed out state law allowed par­ents to opt out of uni­form poli­cies. It was news to many par­ents and ammu­ni­tion to their chil­dren. The word spread quickly.
Hun­dreds of par­ents opt­ed out and oth­ers began using waivers as bar­gain­ing chips — get an A in alge­bra and a stu­dent could opt out of the uniform. 

— What is a “stu­den­t’s con­sti­tu­tion­al right of free expression?”
— Should uni­forms be required if par­ents can have their chil­dren opt out? 


Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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