FOOD FOR THOUGHT: How do you feel about school uniforms?

Carole Townsend

Carole Townsend

Editor's Note: Carole Townsend, a correspondent for the Daily Post, is writing a blog called "Food for Thought." It is available online at www.gwinnettdailypost.com/townsend.

Here I go talking about school again. Can you tell I really miss the days when my kids were still in school? College doesn't count. Back-to-school shopping for college involves furniture and linens, not backpacks, or crayons, or colorful spiral notebooks. For some reason, that's just not as much fun to me.

In our house, we always had our back-to-school rituals. We bought new backpacks every year, all the school supplies on the teachers' lists (and then some), and of course we bought clothes. Bags and bags and drawers and closets full of clothes. Oh and shoes; don't forget the shoes. When we had made all of our purchases, the children would pack and unpack their book bags, making sure everything fit just right. The girls would arrange their clothes by mood, or color, or tightness, and our son would just leave his in the first-of-the-year "clean pile," from which he'd dress until they were all moved to the "dirty pile." He'd dress out of that if I didn't catch him. Then we'd wait for the big day -- the first day of school.

Several times throughout our years of public school, the issue would be brought up by the powers-that-be about whether to require children to wear school uniforms. Some parents would groan and complain that they simply could not afford uniforms. Now I'm no mathematician, but I could have easily justified khakis and green polo-style shirts for our children, no problem. I don't even want to think about what we spent on clothes for our kids when they were in public school.

Our girls were aware of "socially acceptable" brands well before they graduated from kindergarten, I'm sorry to say. I remember our youngest daughter's then-best-friend in fourth grade, showing me her new suede shoes, quoting the brand name and telling me they cost $160. I'm not sure why that stuck with me, except that I thought it was both obnoxious and, pardon me, dumb. Have you ever seen what a fourth-grade kid can do to a pair of shoes in less than a half hour?

Seriously though, I do believe that if students were required to wear uniforms, so much of the petty nonsense that takes place in school hallways would simply stop. Many children are bullied because they don't own the right iteration of the proper brand of shoes, or their clothes don't come from one of those loud, hot, crowded, dark boutiques in the mall. Too, if everyone's wearing the same thing, a lot fewer items of clothing would get stolen during the course of a day. We personally (unintentionally, mind you) clothed at least two other unnamed families during our stints at Creekland and Collins Hill. You folks are welcome, by the way.

Our girls were always mortified, completely indignant, when the subject of school uniforms came up. In the pre-teen and teen years, one's clothes too often define oneself, in my opinion. We could continue to chase this rabbit and tie clothes to spoiled, insufferable bullies right through high school, but that's another topic for another day. Suffice it to say that I believe kids could concentrate on actual learning if they weren't so obsessed with what they and others are wearing. And besides, there are plenty of other places to wear fun clothes, aren't there?

Oh well. That's not my concern anymore, is it? I'm going to go find my daughter and see if I can talk her into letting me take her shopping for spiral notebooks and mechanical pencils. We've already done the furniture and linens.

How do you feel about uniforms in public schools?