July 12, 2010

Uniforms gaining popularity in school districts

Liza Weidle/examiner.com

Over the summer, school administrators review policies including whether or not to implement a school uniform code. Although not in all areas, school uniform policies are gaining momentum. Researchers estimate that almost 25% of public schools now have uniforms. In New York City alone, more than half a million elementary-school students will be wearing uniforms by next fall.

Most private schools open their doors with a uniform policy in place. It was not until 1987 that a public school made this move. Cherry Hill Elementary in Baltimore, MD was the first public school to implement a uniform policy. The Long Beach Unified School District in California adopted a mandatory uniform policy in 1994, making this the first district to have a uniforms in some of its schools.

Educators say implementing a school uniform policy can boost achievement scores and promote a safe learning environment. In evaluating the district's pilot programs, the Long Beach administrators found that use of school uniforms enhanced school safety, improved the learning environment, reduced ethnic and racial tensions, bridged socioeconomic differences between children, promoted good behavior, improved children's self-respect and self-esteem, and produced cost savings for participating families. Since the district implemented the uniform policy, school crime has dropped by 76 percent, while attendance has reached an all-time high.

If your school or district is making this move, expect your tween to protest - loudly. There are some accessory options that may help ease the transition. Here are some ideas from Michael Arking, President of  French Toast , a school uniform manufacturer:

Many companies including French Toast offer uniform options and accessories. Arking says "Accessorizing school uniforms was a very strong trend in the spring and we expect it to carry through the fall and beyond. Interestingly, the "private school look" is popular on shows like "Gossip Girl" and "The Suite Life."