By Rick Orlov, Daily Breeze Staff Writer
Q: Who pays for the uniforms?
06/10/2008 - Wading into what has become a politically sensitive issue across the country, a Los Angeles school board member will join with the City Attorney's Office today to explore whether students should be required to wear uniforms.
"I look at this as the opening dialogue to see what works and what doesn't," Tamar Galatzan said of her hearing today with City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
"There has been a lot of debate over this, and we want to see if we can come up with a district policy.
Most importantly, we want to look at schools where it has had problems and look at why it didn't work."
The LAUSD allows local school administrators and parents to decide whether they want their children to wear uniforms.
But there has been a growing trend in recent years to use school uniforms as part of an overall effort to reduce violence in schools and increase student performance.
The Long Beach Unified School District, with 88,000 students, requires uniforms for all students in elementary and middle schools.
It recently expanded that to include two high schools.
"We've had uniforms required since 1994 and it's worked quite well for us," LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou said.
"We've seen gains in student achievement and have earned a lot of national recognition for our program.
"The key to success, however, is parental support. That is absolutely crucial for the success of the program."
But the issue of school uniforms has generated controversy over the years, including court battles over whether districts can make them mandatory.
Delgadillo, whose office adopted Markham Middle School in Watts, said he is convinced uniforms have helped change the school, which will be part of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's school partnership.
"There is no magic wand, but we do know that one effective tool in decreasing conflict among our students and helping curb violence on campus and around campus is kids wearing uniforms."
Markham Middle School also has begun to crack down on truancy and has seen safety and performance improvements at the school, said Sara Anjargolian, a policy adviser to Delgadillo.
She said uniforms also have helped police officers to identify Markham students to provide safe passage to and from school.
As part of his takeover of six schools later this year, Villaraigosa has said he is looking at requiring uniforms for all students.
Galatzan said the hearing is designed to assess the effectiveness of different programs and whether parents would support such a plan.
"This is a fact-finding mission to find out what works," Galatzan said.
"We want to figure out a way to see if this works, and why, and what schools did to get parental support. That seems to me the key to making any program work."
She said she also wants to try to determine the level of support from private industry to help offset costs of uniforms for families.
Anjargolian said Delgadillo was able to work with private firms to provide uniforms for all Markham students.
smf writes: In the interest of full disclosure I think the Daily Breeze should explain to its readership that Tamar Galatzan is a part time school board member and a full time deputy city attorney - an employee of City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.