To the Editor:

Published 3:05 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2002

By Staff
The uniform policy is not a means to bridge socioeconomic classes to reduce family costs, or to lesson violence. It is an instrument of control, and in my experience has been used as such.
The primary purpose of the public school system is to educate young minds and to mold students into successful young adults. Students should learn to overcome obstacles in order to rise to their potential to have a positive impact on the world we live in.
Classes are distinguished by various economic factors not always demonstrated through clothing choices. Our accessories, grooming, speech, manner and extracurricular activity choices are all signs of our social standing and affluence.
We choose friends based on common interest and the ability to relate, not by looking at one another's clothing.
Uniform styles in our public school system are varied, therefore making it easy to determine who is wealthy and who is not. Brand names are visible, and one can easily tell who is wearing the most expensive clothing. Uniforms have failed to bridge the gap that exists between social classes.
Family costs have not been reduced as a result of the enforcement of the uniform policy. Families have had to spend more money on clothing because the student not only needs uniforms, but clothing for after school, weekends, summers and athletics as well. Instead of buying only necessary clothing that can serve many purposes, families are forced to purchase these clothes in addition to the uniform and uniform shoes. Where uniforms were predicted to cut costs, they have successfully raised them.
Uniforms neither reduce violence nor promote safety. Violence is bred and nourished in the heart of a man. One does not carry out a violent act because he can; he carries it out because he so desires.
When one makes up his mind to harm those who have inflicted pain upon him, he will stop at no cost. Simple logic can lead anyone to conclude that uniforms will not stop violence. Our world is filled with violence in homes, in schools, in workplaces and in nations.
We must get to the root of the problem to find a solution. Violence cannot be stopped until man stops hating his fellow man. Uniforms do not pose an obstacle for those who wish to carry out a violent act. Weapons can simply be carried through the front doors of schools by hand, in gym bags, in lunch boxes, in purses and in pockets of uniform clothing.
Uniforms lower self-esteem and self-worth instead of promoting them. When our school takes field trips to places where private school students are present, many of my peers and I feel inferior to these students. We are all wearing uniforms, but theirs are actually uniform.
Before the uniform policy was imposed, one could choose private or public schooling with the prior knowledge that private schools might require uniforms. Now in public schools, we do not have the option of an education free of a government-imposed uniform policy.
Girls in public schools are forced to wear men's polo shirts. Blouses are prohibited, forcing females to purchase males' clothing. This is degrading, is chauvinistic and reduces women's femininity.
The educational process is constantly interrupted by school officials trying unsuccessfully to monitor their version of the uniform policy. This is due to much ambiguity contained in the policy.
Differences in interpretations cause much controversy between students and the faculty. Students exhibit a lack of respect to school leaders who are overbearing. This can lead to repressed anger and resentment in a student who was wrongly punished, which in turn can cause violence. Is that not what officials were trying to prevent?
In American society, freedom and independence are sought after and respected. Americans live in a nation where one born with nothing can work hard and achieve without limits.
American is a class society in which the economy thrives on competition. The irony of the uniform policy is that it promotes conformity, whereas economic success is earned through individuality, independence and perseverance.
With every newly imposed rule and regulation, the government is taking away more and more of our hard earned freedoms. When it was decided to implement the uniform policy, those whom it would affect most had the least opportunity to oppose it. Adults vote on school board members who voted to implement the uniform policy. It is unjust that students had no input in a decision that would affect their lives for 12 years. The hypocrisy of the policy is appalling. Those who voted on the policy and those who enforce it have never been subjected to it.
In the past few decades, our society has had a substantial decline in morals and ethics. Teens are used as society's scapegoat for the lack of morals taught and of love shown in the home.
Our problems are much deeper than the clothes we wear. The uniform policy is merely a front. It only fixes surface problems so that it appears we are dealing with the increase in school violence. Uniforms do not fix the problems that society has created; they only create new ones.
Our freedoms are being taken away, and this must be stopped. The uniform policy should be abolished. Our time should be spent teaching the youth of the nation the morals and values on which America was founded. With these values embedded in their thoughs, students will learn to succeed not only in the classroom, but in life as well.
Shelley Brantley
Gulf Shores, formerly
of Atmore

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