Return of the Oxford shirt

We are going through a debate at Aycock Middle School over whether or not students will be required to wear uniforms next year.  Although the uniforms won’t be the traditional plaid skirts and similar that usually come to mind, every student will have to conform to a strictly defined “Standard Mode of Dress”.


Aycock has experienced more than its share of discipline problems this year and “uniforms” are proposed as one way to rectify the situation.  Other measures are to be implemented as well.


A phone survey is underway to guage the Aycock Learning Community’s attitude toward “uniforms”.  The phone script reads in part:



…Would you mind helping us out by giving your opinion on our goal to strive for excellence in our learning community?  We are actually excited about this initiative since 100% of our staff and 90% of parents at our last parent meeting approved.  Let me explain our initiative.


We are going to enhance the Standard Mode of Dress, which means that the entire student body will be asked to wear a restricted wardrobe of simple clothing.  Students can choose to wear: khaki or navy pants, shorts or skirts, long or short sleeve oxford white shirts, turtle necks, sweatshirts, and polo shirts, all without logos on them.  These would be cheap and easy to attain from low-priced clothing stores in the area and actually save you money when buying school clothes.  It would NOT be a uniform.  Research tells us that this standard mode of dress helps students with their behavior and then their grades improve as a result of an improved climate at school.


Would you … support… or not support… this effort to improve the climate and discipline at our school?


I am a big fan of independently arrived at decisions based on transparent information – but this survey troubles me.




  • We are going to enhance the Standard Mode of Dress...” certainly sounds like its a “done deal”.  If you’re “going to” do it anyway- why are you asking?


  • 100% of the staff does not approve according to my conversations with several of them.


  • 90% of the parents did approve that measures need to be taken to improve the school – one of the suggestions was uniforms.


  • Even if both of the percentages are correct, telling that to the person you are surveying will probably color their answer – most folks just want to get along and not rock the boat.


  • Walks like a duck and quacks… must be uniforms – even though the survey says otherwise.


  • Research actually tells us that uniforms have no quantifiable effect on school discipline.

Perhaps I’m just sensitive to having things pre-determined before asking my opinion in past run-ins with government, but this survey rings familiar. 


Am I for or against uniforms in public schools?  My gut tells me that they are a band-aid that simply dresses the problems in Oxford shirts and khakis to make everyone feel like they are doing something.  I think our time could be moe effectively spent on things like Aycock’s Drum Line.  But I’m not sure until I see the entire policy: including opt-outs, punishments outerwear requirements, shoe specifications etc.  I’ll keep you posted. 


Update: GCS Board Member weighs in.

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