Long Beach Unified School District is the first large urban school district in the United States to require school uniforms. There, school uniforms are required in kindergarten through grade 8 in 56 elementary schools and 14 middle schools serving approximately 60,000 students. The uniform in Long Beach consists of navy blue or black shorts, pants, skirts, shorts or jumpers, and white shirts or blouses.
Under California law, parents can request an exemption from school uniforms. However, last year fewer than 500 parents (less than one percent) requested such exemption. This year, approximately 400 parents (again less than one percent) have requested exemption.
Other major school districts requiring school uniforms this year are New York City, Dade County, Florida; Baltimore, Maryland; Oakland, California; and Charleston, South Carolina. In many large urban school districts, one or more schools now require uniforms.
Each school selects its own uniform. Parents report that three uniforms cost about the same as one pair of designer label jeans.
Uniforms enjoy a high level of community support. In an unofficial survey conducted on January 18, 1994, more than 80 percent of Long Beach Press-Telegram readers who responded said they support school uniforms
Financial assistance is available to disadvantaged children. Privately funded--at no taxpayer expense--local organizations have provided more than $160,000 in uniforms to Long Beach children. A key group supporting uniform donations is Operation School Bell, a philanthropy of RickRackers, an auxiliary of the Assistance League of Long Beach. Other major contributors include the Long Beach Education Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Long Beach, Rotary Club of Long Beach, Greater Long Beach Board of Realtors, local churches, physicians and teachers plus hundreds of individual donors.