Will Salem Public Schools Get Uniforms? [POLL]

Superintendent Russell says schools are using common sense to determine if parents want to have students in uniforms; surveys are due Monday.

The school uniform survey that parents are being asked to fill out and return by Monday was not designed to be scientific, but rather to give the schools an idea of how parents feel, according to Stephen Russell.

The survey, which went home this week with the students, asks 10 questions – in either English or Spanish.

“This was an informal 'non scientific' survey designed to solicit folks' preferences/opinions on school uniforms,” Russell wrote in an email.

If 51 percent or more of the responding parents at each elementary school vote in favor of having their students wear uniforms, the school principal will appoint a committee of parents and teachers to look “at the pros/cons of school uniforms and whether to go ahead with the idea (or not),” Russell wrote. 

“This process would be used to help ensure that there is enough interest in the school and among the parents to proceed with uniform adoption. For example, if the vote tally is 'too close to count', that's one message. If it's 80 percent in favor vs. 20 percent against, that's another type of message.” 

Russell wrote: “We are trying to insert a 'common sense' factor into the process as well.”  

If the committee decides to go ahead with uniforms, it would develop proposals for design and colors. The superintendent said he expects that the committee will seek out students' opinions as well.

If parents do not want their child to wear a uniform to school, they will be provided with that option, Russell wrote.

“Mayor (Kimberley) Driscoll's and my intent is to follow-through on the many parent suggestions/requests that we received during this past year,” Russell wrote.

One of the suggestions was to adopt school uniforms and use the uniforms “as a way to instill pride in student's and their schools,” he said.

Be sure to take our poll to let us know if you think students should have uniforms, and let us know what you think in the comments.

John Dumas April 27, 2012 at 11:44 AM
What kind of insignia will they have? Will there be an indoctrination ceremony?
John Dumas April 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Will there be religious exemptions? How will those students feel? Will those without the "uniform" be outsiders?
John Dumas April 27, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I suppose anyone that is lives for bureaucracy knows the value of taking away individuality.
John Dumas April 27, 2012 at 11:58 AM
While we are at it lets paint all the walls a nice cheery shade of gray. That way the kids will know what they are there for.
Kevin Hammond April 27, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I believe the uniform would be an equalizer for the kids. Those from families with less would not have to worry about sticking out because of their inability to buy expensive clothes. The concentration should be on education . Individuality is not dependent on the clothes you wear but on how you act and think. To think clothes identify individuality is to buy in to retailers marketing ploys.
Mallory Schultz Pernaa April 27, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Students will create social hierarchies regardless of uniforms. Class disparities will be highlighted by shoes, jewelry, hair, parents cars, etc. Uniforms will not solve this. I am interested to hear about how implementing uniforms has affected other schools, and if they have seen changes in student's attitude and school pride.
John Dumas April 27, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Uniforms work real well in military schools, all over the world.
John Dumas April 27, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Shall they have "Brown shirts", "Black shirts" or "Blue shirts"?
John Dumas April 27, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Who's brother-in law will get the uniform deal?
Josh Turiel April 27, 2012 at 02:21 PM
It would be, if Salem's schools were private. Problem is that a uniform policy isn't legally enforceable in Massachusetts public schools. I fear that if anything, a "voluntary" uniform policy would in fact open even a bigger gap between the haves and have-nots. Purely anecdotally (as the father of a fourth-grader), I'm not seeing clothes and brand names as an issue now anyway, at least among my son and his friends across grades. The vast majority of the kids I see don't even pay attention to what they wear and aren't thinking about branding there. They do value things like "does this kid have an iPod, or a generic MP3 player?", and things like that, but not so much clothing and shoes.
Rick Johnson April 27, 2012 at 02:47 PM
It is good of Dr. Russell to attempt to explain why we received this survey. To say that the survey is not scientific is to state the obvious. As I wrote earlier this week, the results of this survey are tainted because the survey was poorly written, unclear, and biased in favor of uniforms. Is this because of a lack of the ability to communicate, an attempt to manipulate the outcome, or both? I sure hope this survey is not a representation of the level of communication the parents of Salem can expect from our new school superintendent. If the parents of Salem want a voluntary uniform policy, I respect that decision (although the results of the survey will not be valid and shouldn’t be used to measure parents’ opinions). I'm surprised that any parent wants our school officials dealing with an issue like a voluntary uniform policy, when our school system has so many more important and pressing matters to deal with.
Rick Johnson April 27, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Here in the Commonwealth, the law states: “School officials shall not abridge the rights of students as to personal dress and appearance except if such officials determine that such personal dress and appearance violate reasonable standards of health, safety and cleanliness.” So how exactly will things be any more equal if children and parents are not compelled to participate in the uniform policy? The sources of insecurities and petty jealousy will still be present. This voluntary uniform policy is a "solution" in desperate need of a problem that doesn't exist in Salem.
john April 27, 2012 at 04:43 PM
The complete waist of time over uniforms continues. It appears this is the most concerning issue facing our school commitee. If it's not legal then what are we doing? My hard earned tax dollars are being tossed out the window on overpaid salaries for people who have lost focus on education and are talking about useless illegal actions.
emilybrown April 27, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I would like to say that im in a "public school" and I just got my style right im not giving that up my grade is where you start to find out who you are and I can't do that if im wearing a uniform even if i can "Choose the colors" and if its a skirt ide rather die so there your inside information superintendant thanks for your time
Kelly d... April 28, 2012 at 05:54 AM
The school committee has totally lost focus! Please someone tell me how putting my son or daughter in a uniform will bring their reading level up? They need to stay focused on the real issues " academic achievement "........And what about the special needs & at risk children? isn't that how we got to a level 4!
Cindy Johnson April 28, 2012 at 03:09 PM
In past meetings, Latino parents expressed interest in having school uniforms. The countries they hail from require them (both public and private schools). Cities like Lawrence, which is 70% Hispanic (Salem is 15%), have embraced uniforms for this reason. Lawrence also required them to reduce gang violence and improve safety, which makes sense for them--not for us. Unfortunately, I don't see parents in Salem embracing this concept, especially since we tried it in the past and we know they didn't. Having specific groups of students who wear them and others who don't may even do more harm than good.
Josh Turiel April 28, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Pretty much what I've been saying here and in the Twitterverse. I don't have a problem with uniforms, actually - I think they are OK. But in a public school environment where you can't really enforce it I think they are pointless. Given that Mass. law makes it unenforceable I don't see the point of wasting time as a city with it. If you want your kid in a uniform, send them to a private or parochial school that mandates uniforms. Otherwise let's just move on, put this to rest, and get back to the business of fixing Salem's public schools.
Rick Johnson April 28, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Well stated, Josh and Cindy. It's time to get to work on the initiatives that DESE recommended in its report.
Cwheels April 28, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I see this as a way to distract us. Those in charge don't know how to get our schools back on the right track, first eliminate school choice, now this. I don't know all the facts but by the looks of things we should be welcoming receivership.


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