September 11, 2010

Uniform dress showing up in public schools

By Kennth K. Tse / The New York Post (

It's time to suit up!

As students go through the back-to-school season, parents are faced with the question of what their children's fall wardrobe will look like.

One growing group of kids who will not have that concern, however, are those public and private school students required to wear school uniforms.

According to French Toast, a New York-based school uniform company, despite private and Catholic schools losing enrollment in recent years due to the tougher economy, more and more public schools across the country are adopting uniform policies.,/

"We've seen a lot more growth in the public sector -- 1 out of 4 public schools has a uniform policy," says President Michael Arking. "We are expecting 7 percent more public schools enrolling in school uniforms across the board this year."

Of the 4,600 public schools in New York state, approximately 31 percent, or 1,500, of them have a school uniform policy, with a majority of the schools in New York City.

For the 2010-11 school year, the following states had significant growth in the number of new students in uniforms: Florida - 29,109, Pennsylvania - 19,530, Texas - 16,057, Maryland - 14,427, and Mississippi - 11,586.

"We have a bit of a perception of uniforms -- the plaid skirts and blazers," says Arking, "but school uniforms can be casual wear." One popular alternative is khakis and a polo shirt.

Arkin adds, "It's entered into the public consciousness. You see uniforms everywhere in the media, on TV shows like "Gossip Girls" and "Zack and Cody." Parents are pushing more than ever for school uniforms." School uniforms have actually become popular.

They can also be cheaper that buying multiple back-to-school outfits. One uniform from French Toast typically costs less than $120.

Other key reasons for adopting standardized dress codes include: safety, reduction of "label competition" and school pride