Monday, November 09, 2009

CLASS CONFORMITY - Should LAUSD go uniform?

Daily News Editorial

11/10/09 -- LAST week, the Los Angeles City Council voted for a resolution recommending Los Angeles schools adopt a mandatory uniform policy for all of its not quite 680,000 students.

It was essentially meaningless. The council, for all its range of authority, has no control over how the Los Angeles Unified School District governs itself. However, the motion by Councilman and former school board president Jose Huizar does put the pressure on LAUSD Board of Education members, some of whom would like to move up in local political circles.

Currently, LAUSD policy allows the administrator of each school to decide whether its students should wear uniforms. Some do, some don't.

The renewed push for uniforms comes at a time when LAUSD is struggling to improve academics and avoid losing control of new and failing schools, as is allowed under new district policy. Under that shadow, controversial policies like this one may get more consideration.

Uniform policy also comes with some convincing fans. Capt. Phillip Tingerides of the Los Angeles Police Department's Southeast Division has noted that communities with gangs benefit from having school uniforms.

"In areas like Southeast L.A. where there are gangs everywhere and they're identified by colors of clothing, it takes away that in-your-face-I'm-from-this-gang message," Tingerides said.

Several school districts across the country, including Long Beach, New York City and Washington, D.C., have implemented school uniform policies. The Long Beach Unified School District, with 88,000 students, requires uniforms for all students in elementary and middle schools and two high schools.

Long Beach has found success with the program which was started in the 1990s. "It's worked quite well for us," LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou told the Daily News in June 2008. "We've seen gains in student achievement and have earned a lot of national recognition for our program."

What do you think?

Should LAUSD try out uniforms for students? Can clothing really help improve education? Or do policies like this trample students' rights of self expression and creativity?

Send your responses to Please include your full name, the community or city in which you live and a daytime phone number. We'll print as many as we can in Sunday's Opinionated section.

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