I received an interesting email today.
As reported yesterday in the N&R, Eastern Guilford Middle School is considering the adoption of a school uniform (aka S.M.O.D.) policy for next year. Because of my opposition to the policy at Aycock last year, an Eastern Middle parent sent me the following invitation...
"I would like to invite you to a SMOD meeting at Eastern Guilford Middle School in Gibsonville. The meeting is to discuss "standardized mode of dress" for next fall. The dress would require a polo style shirt in royal blue or white and khaki or black pants. This is similiar to the uniform that Aycock Middle school instituted last year.
The interesting fact is we have students at Eastern that left Aycock either on their own or they were made to leave by the administration because they refused to wear uniforms."
I'll be pleased to attend if our schedules mesh. Through my observations and numerous conversations with Aycock staff, students, and others at the school, I think the uniform policy at Aycock is a farce. Not to mention it has proven to be an amazing time sucker for all involved.
Sure, the kids look pretty, but at what cost in instructional time? For your consideration: A few weeks ago I was standing in the main hall during "AA (homeroom)" period talking to some friends of mine who are long-time Aycock staff. A veteran teacher busted out of the classroom, then huffed over to us, all exasperated, "Will you (not me, others in charge) get this girl out of my class?... I'm sick of this crap." "What's wrong?", asked one of my friends. "She refuses to take her coat off, I want to just get her written up", the teacher said, and then continued, "She says she is cold (it was real cold outside) and she won't put it in her locker... When she asks me why she has to be cold, all I can tell her is because it is policy that she can't wear her coat. I'm sick of this... just write her up."
The reason Aycock adopted uniforms over the objections of many parents was to reduce discipline problems and "improve the learning environment" at the school. Have uniforms accomplished their goals? I believe the GCS administration needs to find out the answer to this basic question.
If SMOD is found to have clearly made a positive impact in student behavior at Aycock, then every middle school in the county should be requiring uniforms for their students. Such a systemic policy would avoid the shuffling that the Eastern parent described. If it is not an effective policy, it should be dropped.
Aycock had a strict dress code before uniforms were "adopted" through a heavy-handed administrative manuever last year. If, in 2003, the administration had placed half the effort to enforcing the old code as they have keeping kids in Polo shirts and khakis this year, there would have been no reason to even consider such a draconian policy.