School uniform talk: So what?
OK, I have to admit, I don't understand why some of my colleagues at other media outlets are making a big deal over a proposal that may or may not come from Sheila Dixon's office to mandate school uniforms citywide. First off, most city schools require their students to wear uniforms anyway (though the decision is up to the principal). And second, even if Dixon wanted uniforms to be universal, only the school board has the power to make that so. Lobbying board members would be as far as she could go (though, granted, she does have joint appointment power over the school board). At the moment, there is no proposal pending.
Much to my relief, Andres Alonso seemed as perplexed as I was by the news coverage -- and he has four Ivy League degrees, compared with zero for me. "I don't know what this uniform thing is about," he said before I interviewed him about the meatier topic of the day, the contract impasse with the city teachers union. "I don't get it.... I got asked at some point in the past three months, 'What do you think about uniforms?' Well, I think they're nice and if a school community wants them, they should have it of course."
But in case you're still curious about Dixon's involvement, here is what she had to say at a press conference yesterday, as kindly transcribed by Sun City Hall reporter John Fritze. Thank you, John!
TV reporter: Do you have a plan, or do you support having all city students in the city wear uniforms?
Dixon: At this point, we're looking at it.
TV reporter: Can you tell me whether that's an idea that intrigues you, that you like, can you characterize...
Dixon: It's an idea that intrigued me for many years. It is an area that, I guess if you go way back, I probably introduced something when I was on the City Council because I think it does help in a child's education. So, we're looking at it.
Fritze: Does that take an ordinance or is it something the school system would just do?
Dixon: Not to go into details now, because we're exploring it, because I know there's some constitutional issues as relates to public schools and uniforms, but I think it's something that we're looking at.
TV reporter: Why is it that you do support it? Do you feel it adds to the sense of decorum?
Dixon: I think it adds to, one, the budget of families. That's No. 1. I think it takes away from the competitiveness in what young people wear in school and you focus on education. I am an advocate, my kids have been in uniform since... kindgergarten and if I could have it right now, my daughter in college be in uniform, I would have that, too. ... With uniforms, if everyone looks the same, they can focus on the education.