Parents Have Mixed Views of School Uniforms

Published February 1, 2002

Many of the parents in suburban Detroit interviewed by School Reform News indicated their support for public school uniforms. They also acknowledged they had no evidence their children would be safer because of uniforms.

W. Henry Cobb of Lathrup Village, Michigan is one parent in favor of uniforms. Cobb, whose children attended the Lathrup School District, said students should not be allowed to wear baggy pants and other pieces of clothing that could be considered “gang wear.”

“I don’t understand how children can learn anything dressing the way they do,” said Cobb. “They are more focused on the types of shoes they have and not their studies. I know this [uniforms] will tilt the learning curve upward.”

Michelle Gibson of Inkster is in favor of the navy-and-white outfits her child must wear to Meek-Milton Elementary School. The uniform code was instituted in Inkster in 1998.

“They’re convenient. And they bring a good atmosphere to the school,” said Gibson.

But Carole Bell, a former teacher and parent of students in the St. Clair Shores school district, feels that blaming the lack of school success on what students wear does not address the real concern. She wrote a letter to The Detroit Free Press recently, stressing the need for schools to teach the basics of reading, writing, and math, rather than worrying about uniforms.

“Schools can’t cover everything,” Bell wrote. “Rather than worrying about what kids wear, schools should concentrate on developing learning skills and call on parents to take responsibility for social behaviors.”