Uniformity, it’s all the same to me

I attended a small Catholic school in Glendale, Ohio from the 2nd grade through most of the 6th grade.  I have wonderful memories of that school, and the people who ran it.  And even though I haven’t walked those halls in over 30 years, I could still close me eyes and see each classroom.  Each blackboard.  Each face of my teachers.  Some beloved.  Some not so much.

And I wore this every day that I attended.

Uniform

My mother was in charge of letting it out a little each year.  She was also in charge of the hem.  The nuns told us that our skirts must not go above the length of our fingertips when our arms were straight by our side.

And since I was born with unusually ape-like long spaghetti arms, my mother took pity on me and allowed me to fudge a little on my hem.

She was a rebel too.

My reputation as a pack rat ought to be solidified in your minds, since you see that I still have that uniform in my possession.  Actually, it was my Dad that kept it all these years, and finally sent it to me a few years ago.

And I cannot bear to part with it.  As you can see, the hem is coming out.  I look at those maroon stitches, and I know that those were the stitches that my mom painstakingly sewed, so that I wouldn’t look so much like a goober.

The waistband button also bears her sewing skills, as she had to re-sew that button on at least a thousand times, as I was also blessed with a thick midsection.

I looked like a skinny sausage.  With toothpick legs.

After the hundredth or so time of re-sewing that button, she finally gave up trying to match the correct thread, and just used whatever she had.  In the last patch job, she used light blue.

I never thought twice about wearing a uniform to school.  I never felt like I was missing out on anything.  I do remember my mother telling me after I started attending public school, that she missed all the money she was saving by sending me to school in a uniform.  And how easy it was in those days to get me dressed in the morning.  (And she never once had to come pick me up from Catholic school because I was dressed inappropriately.  And yes, that did happen in middle school.)

I don’t remember wearing a uniform ever being an issue with classmates either.  It was never evident which child was born of affluence, and which child attended a private school because he or she had parents that shopped garage sales and clipped coupons to be able to afford that private school.

It simply didn’t matter to us.

A week or so ago, a rather heated discussion about the use of uniforms showed up in the Mom’s Homeroom message boards.  I was rather surprised by the venomous responses against wearing uniforms.   I know that some public schools have adopted uniforms in an attempt to minimize gang affiliations, and peer pressure.

I for one think it’s a good idea.  But since I homeschool my kids, I don’t often have the opportunity to discuss it.  But if I didn’t homeschool my kids, I’d be all for it.

As Moderator of the Mom’s Homeroom boards, it wasn’t my job to give my opinion, just make sure everyone follows the rules and plays nice.

But, I wanted to bring the discussion to you all.  What is your opinion of uniforms? Either in the private school sector, or in a public school setting.

DeeDeeSig

November 2, 2009

36 Responses to Uniformity, it’s all the same to me

  • I am completely in support of uniforms. We live in Australia where all kids wear uniforms – whether it is public or private school. I think it just makes sense (financial and otherwise).

  • Since the child’s “job” is to go to school/get an education…wearing a uniform would be like one’s work clothes. Most people have career attire…whether it is a company uniform or a business suit. I don’t see why people throw such a fuss over this issue.

  • I am so for it! There are so many distractions with individuality and it would make my job so much easier as a parent. The neighborhood kids who go to public school wear uniforms and I think it’s great!

  • Here in Hong Kong, every single school requires uniforms, regardless of social level or expense. It’s one of the few things I love about being here.

  • I guess I’ve experienced it from all sides. Public school, private school, parent and being a teacher. Kids don’t like them because they have to work harder and think more creatively to express their individuality…their parents’ wallets can’t do that for them anymore. As for perks as a teacher, you can tell a ‘photo day’ or any other non-uniform day the minute they step off the bus. The students’ behavior changes dramatically. Count my vote as ‘for’!

  • I’m all for uniforms. My daughter’s are teens and very much aware of name brands, which are popular or not. I refuse to spend the money on those items or buy items that are not modest enough. It’s a battle. Uniforms would make these non issues for me, and I agree with Lisa B, it would make them be more creative to express themselves !

  • I am FOR uniforms!! From a student’s perspective, it cuts down on peer pressure and being made fun of for not wearing the “cool” stuff. Whenever my family and I were on furlough here in the states after 4 years in Africa, I attended a private school (I was an only, so my parents could afford one kid in private school). I HATED the dressing aspect of school. My parents never bought me the “cool” stuff because they felt it a waste of money. So I never quite fit in with the private school crowd.

    From a parent’s perspective, if my kids were in school, I would totally want uniforms. At the crack of dawn, it would be much easier to get 4 kids dressed. And much easier to shop. I guess the only thing I would have to watch is the laundry to ensure we did not have to go laundry diving every morning (at the crack of dawn).

  • I’ve never had to deal with them, one way or the other, so my opinion won’t count for much.

    However, there is a huge population of private schools (with uniforms) here in the area, and a great number of public schools that have “relaxed uniforms” (navy pants, white shirts).

    Regarding the money aspect — they jack up the price of navy pants and white shirts in area stores (so, I purchase mine when I go to visit my parents). I hear Mom’s fussing about the cost of uniforms, as a lot of them have to buy them through their school (which, conveniently, uses it as a fundraiser as well).

  • When the boys were in private school, they wore uniforms. I’m totally “for” them.

    Now homeschooling, our uniform consists of what is most comfortable. I’m totally “for” that too.

  • I agree, I’m for them too. The schools around here have become so demanding in their dress code anyway, I don’t know why they don’t just adopt some sort of uniform. The navy pants and solid shirts might be the way to go!

  • I would have LOVED uniforms when I was in school! We didn’t have money and my wardrobe reflected that. I think they are GREAT for peer pressure and self esteem.

    My girls attend a small private school and they DON’T have uniforms. So far it hasn’t really been an issue, but I do think uniforms would be easier and a great addition to the school.

  • Vote for uniforms here. My husband teaches at the Christian school where my children go. As a mommy, life is much easier, the laundry problem isn’t really a problem and the kids can’t argue about what they wear! Our uniform is navy pants/twill or cords, (or shorts) with navy, light blue, yellow or white polos, turtlenecks or oxfords. No cargos, no cable knit sweaters. Girls have a plaid option.

    Our children are allowed to purchase these items from anywhere, not just from the distributor, so I’m able to find great deals to save money. I do have a full to overflowing tub with uniform in all sizes.

    Another benefit, we’re able to take the hand me downs from various families without worrying about whether or not the kids like that style! 🙂

  • I too went to Catholic school, (FYI, our jumpers needed to touch the ground when we knelt to pray.) I am another one for uniforms.

  • I’m all for uniforms. We homeschool, and our kids still have uniforms! Well, not really, but we do have polo-style shirts with the name of our co-op embroidered on them. We wear them with khaki pants or walking shorts when we go on field trips or do community service.

  • We have gone to a private school that basically wore ‘street clothes’ and a private school with a strictly adhered to uniform dress code. And I vote for the uniforms! Hands down! Our experience is that the kids behave like they know something is expected from them. It also creates some unity among the students, because they all look similar. (our kids have a few color choices for ‘the’ skirts and shirts). And its much easier on me because we always know what to wear to school. No discussions. Love. That. DD’s school has ‘free dress days’ and they can be rewarded with wearing street clothes at different times, so that is a special treat, too. Love uniforms!

  • As a student I would have been very angry and outspoken against uniforms, but now that I’m a mother….

    I struggle with the fact that I want my kids to be liked and fit in and wanting to do everything I can to make that easier for them, and trying to instill core values that don’t put so much weight on their appearance and the appearance of others.

    Uniforms would make it so much easier, and it wouldn’t be so much of a distraction for my borderline ADHD son. If the issue comes up in our public school, I would definitely be on the “For” side of the argument.

  • For uniforms! I have 3 in private school now and we need to be out of the house by 6:40am – uniforms make that happen:)
    When I was a kid I went to public school in a very affluent town. Well, we didnt have much money and it was evident. My parents could barely afford the house payments nevermind designer clothes. It was hard to fit in w/ other kids. On another note my husband was just laid off on Thursday – so I will either be flipping burgers on the weekends to pay for their tuition or my kids may have to go to public school- which is not so great around me (burger, anyone?)

  • I am totally in favor of uniforms. We, too, have been on both sides. Uniforms are so much better. There is no debate in the mornings or “I don’t have anything to wear” while standing in front of a closet full of clothes. With a high schooler and middle schooler, the peer pressure is high on everything. Uniforms would make clothes one less thing to worry over.

  • I am in favor of uniforms. We go to public school with a dress code but no uniforms. I would love it for my 9yo daughter to be able to get dressed without worrying if she looked cool enough. I’m not really sure what the hangup is with parents that are against them.

  • My boys went to a Christian school from kindergarten through 5th and 7th grades and wore uniforms (polos and khaki/navy pants). They didn’t have a problem with it because that’s all they knew. As far as saving $$$ I don’t believe we really did. Besides having adequate shirts and pants we had to purchase official “spirit wear” (sweatshirts, etc.) that was part of the dress code too. And I had to iron their slacks so that was a pain (yes, I am that kind of a mom … my kids couldn’t be wrinkled!)

    I taught at the school the attendedand sometimes it was a struggle to be consistent when enforcing dress code issues. And like another poster said behavior changed radically on “jeans” or “free dress” days, even though there were dress code “rules” on those days too.

    They moved to public school in 6th and 8th grade for the awesome band program in our district, and began wearing jeans and tshirts almost every days. WHICH DO NO HAVE TO BE IRONED!!!!! They usually wear Christian t-shirts if they’re not wearing their band t-shirts so I don’t have any issues. Both uniforms and no uniforms have worked for us.

  • I absolutely love the uniforms. It does save so much money and also time in the mornings. On the few days they get to pick their own clothes it takes forever and the debating that goes on!!

  • Hey DeeDee! It’s Lindsey from the long-defunct Enjoy the Journey blog of yesteryear 🙂

    Just had to chime in with this one. Since I quit homeschooling 2 years ago (which I’m still not over, by the way, sniff sniff) I have been teaching in public school.

    And let me just say that many problems in my day would be SOLVED by having a uniform policy or standard code/mode of dress. Half my battles with middle school girls come over clothes and trying to fit in.

    The only loophole is the accessories. At the private schools around here, the kids get around the clothes as a status symbol by carrying gucci bookbags and wearing channel earrings to make the poor kids feel inferior.

    There is always a doughnut hole….

  • I’ll be one of the few against uniforms. I don’t feel they are the great equalizer. Kids will always find something to cause trouble about. As a kid my dress was the only way I was allowed to stand out. To this day I still use it as a way to differentiate myself from everyone else. You should see the looks you get when you wear a tie dye shirt to an engineering company. Even though it is a company shirt.

    Also I despise skirts so to be forced to wear them everyday would be torture for me.

  • I’m with everyone else. And totally with Kate. I attended a snooty private Christian school and we didn’t have uniforms and I hated that I didn’t have the money for “cool clothes”. I did work and pay for my own, but no way could I afford all designer stuff like the” in” crowd. Not that I liked any of them anyway, and if they would have accepted me because my parents were rich, they wouldn’t have been real friends, and the adversity made me a better person, blah blah blah… but it pretty much sucked. I would have been totally “for” uniforms back then, as I am now.

    My son’s school has a used uniform closet, with each piece costing $2. Since new shirts are about $25, I have never bought new, and hopefully never will!

    Yay for uniforms!

  • We have a family joke that out homeschool uniform is pajamas. Even for the teacher!

  • Hallelujah for uniforms. The public school my children attend is not too strict, just khaki bottoms (any brand) and navy or white tops. They also allow special days to support local sports teams and wear special school shirts. I LOVE it. No arguments in the morning about what to wear!

  • Before we started homeschooling, my kids attended a private school in which they did NOT wear uniforms. I think I would have preferred uniforms for the same reasons you mentioned, DeeDee. I really like our homeschool clothing options though. I am all about comfort, sometimes even to the point of declaring a pajama day!

  • Well, we homeschool too and I happen to LOVE uniforms. I insist on the girlies wearing uniforms. I do. And I’m not afraid to admit it.

    Of course our uniforms are warm and fuzzy and generally have feet and most “normal” people wear them to bed. Not us. Jammies are the new uniform.

  • My boys attended public school and while I think the boys dress code needs just as much tweeking as the girls. (pants worn around the middle of the butt, for lack of a better word) I would love a dress code. I never wore a uniform my entire public school career either. But I would love to just throw their clothes on the their beds in the morning and not get the look of..I’m not wearing that shirt or pants today I will look like a dork. If everyone has on the same thing then everyone will either look cool or look like a dork! Thanks for posting this!!

  • My kids wore uniforms up until this year when they started attending public school. They hated the uniforms, but I didn’t mind them so much, although they cost me MORE money than street clothes. We shop resale 😉
    The uniforms had to come from one specific store with a logo on all the shirts. At $18 a shirt (for a stinkin’ polo) times 3 kids, and add the tuition in, and yikes! The cost was my whole issue. Otherwise, I love the idea.
    Btw- our school used the same plaid as your jumper. My girls all wore that to school on the first day of kindergarten.

  • I lived five miles from Glendale until June (we moved to Xenia). We house-sat for one of my husband’s professors & walked their Corgi there – it’s a beautiful area.

    I have no children, but I would have been TOTALLY for uniforms in school. I had no fashion sense so I always struggled to look reasonably put together – a uniform would have helped me feel a little less on the fringe.

  • FOR! We’ve had them for 6 years now in our public school. Never arguments in the morning about what to wear – choose pants from this stack, a shirt from this stack. Done!

  • I worked as a public school educator for many years. Almost every year the English teachers would assign the controversial topic of writing a rebuttal to the “decision” of the requirement of a school uniform. This heated discussion, at least in my opinion was a waste of time for everyone. The students already wore a “uniform.” No one dared to look different. In addition, a uniform would never solve the problem of inappropriate dress. They would just dress inappropriately in a uniform. My children went to a private school with a strict dress code, but no uniforms. I would have liked them. Life would have been easier.

  • Wow. I’m impressed you still have your uniform. I think I burnt mine.

    I think school uniforms are good. It levels the social playing field somewhat. And there are a zillion ways for kids to express individuality other than in their clothing while at school. Inappropriate clothing would be just one less things for teachers and admins would have to deal with and they’ve got plenty to deal with.

    Having said that I’m old fashioned and conservative.

  • Thumbs up for uniforms. We homeschool, and my son is shirtless half the time he does school, but our city schools just acquired uniforms this year. I think it is great for kids to be less focused on fashion. Plus is cuts down on all the hootchie mama clothing, Hannah Montana t-shirts, among other annoying styles.

  • Interesting!

    When I was new out of college I worked in a Catholic school. Uniforms were, of course, mandated. There were still issues, violations, and individual expression. BUT in general, all the appropriate bits and pieces were covered so modesty was ensured, and uniformity of the masses (along with school spirit) evident. I was much, much easier to enforce dress code violations. (Not at all subjective.) I know, however, that financially it was rough on the parents to afford uniforms AND play clothes.

    Growing up, I never had school uniforms. I did however participate in certain choirs that required specific clothes, so in a way I had the “uniform” experience. And I kind of hated it. But then, I was a plus size girl in high school. Imagine the horror of having to fit into the very same style of clothes as someone who was a size 0. Ugh. That isn’t even taking into account that often the color/style choices were questionable.

    Now as a parent, our school district has a conservative dress code. They don’t have a true uniform, but are in a breath away. Part of me wishes they would just go there. Staying in dress code isn’t too difficult with my sons, but is very challenging for my daughter. Doubly so since she is the one most likely to express herself through fashion. (Mismatched socks are a very regular thing for her…and clearly stated as being out of dress code. I let this slide, and will address when the school takes offense.)