Letter: Uniforms do not help school districts

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To the editor,

I’m the father of four Region 16 students. Our state representatives sent a letter to the Region 16 Board of Education supporting a uniform policy. The Board of Education has published a survey to gauge the public’s attitudes toward changing the current Region 16 dress code. I urge all parents, students, staff, and residents of Beacon Falls and Prospect to take the time to research the issue before completing the survey.

Many misconceptions have been shared regarding uniforms. There is no objective evidence that uniforms help a school district. They do not “keep students focused on their education.” They do not “reduce bullying and peer pressure.” They do not create “a level playing field among students.” They do not help families who are “financially struggling.” However, there is a study that concludes that changing to a uniform policy communicates that something went wrong in the schools. In this school year, at Region 16, there have been no disciplinary actions taken due to dress or appearance. Where is the problem?

I wore a uniform at school. I wore a uniform in the Air Force. Wearing a uniform does not change a person’s behavior, their internal attitudes and values, or the actions they take. Attitudes and values are already there when they put on the uniform. Social and economic status remains in the form of shoes, coats, jewelry, hair, makeup, electronic devices, and the quality of the uniforms themselves. How far will this policy go to ensure conformance?

My parents chose to send me to a school with uniforms. They understood the additional costs involved. I chose to serve in the Air Force knowing I’d be purchasing and wearing a uniform. My wife and I chose to send our kids to Region 16 schools. Uniforms were not part of that choice. My third-grade daughter expressed her concern to me.

“I don’t want to wear uniforms,” she said. “I like cheerfulness. I like being myself.”
My wife and I give our kids the choice what to wear, in compliance with the current dress code and our own personal values. Why do other parents get to take that choice away from them because parents want the school district to force their kids to dress appropriately? Why does a school district get to take that choice away from them because they can’t enforce the current dress code?

Unfounded opinions should not pressure drastic change. There is no objective evidence that uniforms help a school district. Ineffective policies must not be dictated because of “wants.” Effective enforcement of existing policies should be the answer. Residents of Region 16, please complete the survey and share your thoughts.

Paul Cummings

Beacon Falls