School Uniforms in CPS: Love em’ or Hate em’

August 15, 2012 at 8:04 am 136 comments

Jennifer Garner/Ben Affleck’s daughter going to school

I ‘m moving the school uniform discussion over here.  Since the Chicago magazine article that mentions the blog is coming out and some new people might be stopping buy, I figured I’d over up some lively discussion that any parents can jump into without knowing much about the craziness of CPS and all the tiers, tests, applications, tours, etc.

It sounds as if Alcott, one of the north side “neighborhood” (I say that in quotes because for years it’s been a sought-after Lottery school) with uniforms seems to be talking about doing away with them. (Clarification: Alcott is not changing it but the LSC is “rethinking” it based on parent input. See comment #70 for clarification.)

The neighborhood high school near my home has a blue pant/white shirt dress code, but frankly from what I see about the interpretation of that, it barely matters.  Kids can still look geeky, trampy, plain, fancy, gang-ish, wholesome etc when they choose their own pants and white top (from what I gather driving by.)

Obviously many parochial schools still use dress codes which always seem to look cute on the little kids, but still puzzles me about parents sending girls to school in the winter in short little plaid skirts.  Actually, maybe it’s tweens I see in this get-up and when I think about how I wore sandals in winter back in my youth, perhaps it’s not the parents who encourage the skirt-wearing.

In any case, uniforms can convey a lot about a school in the minds of some parents.  My understanding of Alcott’s uniform policy was that years ago as the school became more gentrified, there was a mix of upper- and lower-income kids and that uniforms were more of an equalizer in how kids dress.  I am pleased to say that at my son’s school, everyone (including the kids in the nearby million dollar homes) seem to dress equally shlubby and/or in Target clothing.  This is contrasted with my son’s private preK that had a mix of Target clothing, and rows of $90 Uggs boots and Patagonia jackets for 4 year olds.  I much prefer CPS in that regard.

Feel free to share in the debate…

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Eric Zorn article on the longer day CPS New School Locator

136 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cpsobsessed  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:05 am

    ALL PREVIOUS COMMENTS ARE HERE:

    • 146. Uniforms? Yay or Nay? | August 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm
    Can we talk about the pros and cons of uniforms for public elementary schools? Some vocal parents at my neighborhood school are trying to get rid of our uniform policy. They state things like “those of us who are interested in fashion” think uniforms are not appropriate. And “students need to learn to dress appropriately for working in the real world”.
    What do others think?

    • 148. db | August 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm
    @146 – I think uniforms are completely unnecessary. In fact, I’m so dead set against them that I didn’t consider any acceptances from schools that have them. I think public elementary schools have no reason to have them unless there is a gang problem. Children should be able to dress themselves and have fun with their clothes. They get so few choices and have so little control at this age, it’s important for them to develop the skills to make good choices.

    • 149. my 2 cents on uniform | August 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm
    I understand the schools reasoning for having uniforms. It helps the children not feel so bad if they can not afford the lastest and most expensive cloths, but I do think that schools that do uniforms should have more of a choice. Do you know how hard it is to keep a kindergarteners white shirt clean…. How about blue, red, green or yellow shirt with blue, tan or black pants….. What about they way Namaste does it, white or grey shirt with ANY pants, skirt or shorts they want. Could be pink, could be red. Just my 2 cents on uniforms.

    • 151. kate | August 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm
    Does “uniform” and “dress code” mean the same thing? Many schools have a “dress code” but no specific “uniform”.

    • 152. beenThere | August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm
    151 – no — uniform is just that. The school states exactly what to wear and where to purchase it. Dress Code states what is acceptable. You would be surprised what kids wear around 6th grade. Lots of skin, underwear showing and inappropriate message tshirts.

    • 153. kate | August 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm
    gotcha. was under the assumption that parents often refer to a “uniform” when the school really only has rules concerning color, exclusions on “decals/decorations”, etc. thanks.

    • 154. CPSMom&Teacher | August 10, 2012 at 7:29 am
    I am for uniforms. As a teacher, I see far fewer fights between girls that are often clothing based. “Who does she think she is?”, “Her clothes don’t fit.” Uniforms certainly remove an x factor of angst and source of teasing. (Not to mention $$$ for parents.) I do teach middle school, so I see far more taunting/fighting than a primary school teacher would. Bullying among girls is more difficult to spot than with boys. Uniforms help avoid a classic bullying opportunity. My school does have spirit days that allow the students to express themselves via their clothing. The uniform is blue pants (jeans are allowed) and a white or blue shirt.
    My daughter’s school has a uniform. As a parent, I am happy to go along with the school’s policy.

    • 155. Idea88 | August 10, 2012 at 7:56 am
    154 – Yes, i totally agree. The uniform takes opportunity for problems. As for expressing yourself….do it on the weekends.

    • 156. RL Julia | August 10, 2012 at 10:42 am
    I am all for an enforced dress code or uniform – especially for middle schoolers (5,6,7,8). Having two such aged children I, I found their having a uniform to be very helpful. They hated it – so it gave them something concrete to hate (besides everything else), it helped keep down clothing costs during years where they were growing A LOT (as in out their shoes and pants every four to six months). Also – their taste in clothing (and to be fair, their friends) definitely could use some fine tuning and I am a parent who would prefer not to start every day as the clothing police.
    Could the dress codes been a little more varied? Yes. I am totally in agreement about the white shirts – and sweaters – c’mon where can one find a pure white boy’s sweatshirt and a boy willing to wear it? Never mind how to keep it clean. One can only bleach a thing so much. What’s the matter with navy??

    • 157. Alcott parent | August 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm
    Alcott in Lincoln Park also has a loud group working toward the demise of our uniform policy – a policy we struggled to get into place and which works well. (we actually do have a true uniform policy not a dress code)
    LSC says they control this policy. It’s disturbing because the LSC seems to represent Lincoln Park wealth, not the 75% who come from outside Lincoln Park and have no money to compete with Lincoln Park fashionistas.
    Important issues have languished and never been added to an LSC agenda. Yes this issue was mentioned on the parental yahoo group one week and was on LSC’s agenda the next.
    Leaves me sad and heavy heartedly wondering if the values of Alcott are ones that I want my kids to have.

    • 158. CPSMom&Teacher | August 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm
    @157 So clothing is distracting the LSC from true academic progress? Sounds like what would happen in the classroom, too!
    When I have parents question the school’s uniform policy it’s usually moms who want their daughters to stand out via their clothing. (Not mothers of sons, or fathers of daughters.) Fortunately, administration is sticking to the belief of academics first: Stand out as an academic, athlete, good citizen. Being fashionistas…as Idea88 said, save it for the weekends.
    Hope your administration stands firm. Best of Luck!

    • 160. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 11:47 am
    Would a school really change the uniform or dresscode right in the middle of the year? Seems like that would be a slap in the face for parents who bought clothing withing the current guidelines.
    Why wouldn’t a school want a uniform? I don’t get it.

    • 161. LSMom | August 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm
    I’d strongly prefer to send my kids to schools without a uniform. Many of the schools require unattractive color combinations that I would rather not buy. It would be expensive to buy two sets of clothing, unless i want them to wear drab clothing on the weekends too. I can see that they are useful in places where gangs are an issue, but I’d rather not send them to a school with a gang problem.
    It seems like many of the most desirable schools in the CPS system do not have uniforms, although they do tend to be the schools that are in affluent areas or magnets.
    I buy inexpensive clothes from Target, resale shops, and ebay, and I’m definitely not a Lincoln Park fashionista. Ultimately, we may not have a choice, but I am hoping to avoid uniforms.

    • 162. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm
    LSMom – what would you consider unattractive color combinations? Would an attractive combination be more palatable to you?
    I don’t get the mind of a non-uniform person and would like to understand.

    • 163. Idea99 | August 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm
    162 — I was thinking the same thing. Unattractive color combinations?

    • 164. mom2 | August 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm
    I have to comment here. Growing up in the suburbs, none of the schools had uniforms. The only exception were some catholic schools. When I encountered public schools in the city with uniforms, they were always the schools in the poor neighborhoods, schools with lower test scores, buildings that appeared to be falling apart, etc. When asked about why the schools had uniforms, the usual answer was that it helped with gang issues and that way everyone was “the same.”
    I know that isn’t the only benefit to uniforms, but I can tell you that most people I know now emotionally associate uniforms with very negative school situations (or parochial). The “better” schools did not (do not) have uniforms. The thinking is…Look at any great public school in the suburb. Do they have uniforms? If not, why would we want to imitate the schools that aren’t as good?
    I buy clothes for my kids at Walmart, Target, Kohls and get quite a few hand-me-downs. I am not interested in showing off with clothing and it might be less expensive to have uniforms (maybe although you still have to buy the uniforms and keep them clean or buy more, etc.)
    I guess I get the negative vibe with uniforms and understand why some parents are against them. I’m certain that this feeling is driving some of the now better schools into wanting to do away with their uniforms.

    • 165. LSMom | August 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm
    As far as drab, take Nettlehorst. They ask for white, light blue, or navy blue tops with blue or black pants. That is not an especially attractive color palate. Navy top and black pants? I also agree with @mom2, and would guess that is part of the Alcott effort to abandon uniforms — it is not something I associate with the most appealing schools. Of course, there are some uniform schools I’d be lucky to get into, and I’d just suck it up.

    • 166. Tues87day | August 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm
    164. Fine, do away with uniforms….but enforce a dress code. It’s hard to teach a class with lots of skin and WTF tshirts.

    • 167. noBrainEr | August 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm
    dress code = black, navy or khaki pants (or shorts in those colors in the hot weather). Polo shirts = solid navy, red or white. How hard is that?

    • 168. okEEdoEE4 | August 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm
    my child went to a CPS grammar school where just about anything was ok. There was a dress code — rarely enforced. Now in private hs – polo shirt (stipe or solid, no logos of other schools or sports teams) and khaki pants (any color) with belt loops and a belt and dress shoes. This makes for a effortless morning.

    • 169. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm
    Okay, I just don’t get you LSMom.
    No one says you have to wear navy and black together. You are imputing that. Yours is “it’s icky don’t like that color mommy” kind of reaction rather than a reasoned opinion on what is best for kids and teachers. Now I get it. Thank you.

    • 170. LSMom | August 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm
    I think dress codes are a fine idea. Most schools don’t seem to allow red shirts or khaki pants, and I don’t think anyone is arguing that uniforms are hard, just not what I would chose to buy/put on my kids.
    But if I were to win the lottery big time and get into Drummond I will happily dress my child in a white top and navy pants!

    • 171. LSMom | August 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm
    @ uniforms, no, that’s your reading, which is not an especially reasoned one. Most CPS school uniforms consist of a limited, drab palate. If it were truly best for teachers and students, that would be different, but again, most of the top CPS schools do not have uniforms. The good suburban schools do not have uniforms. You have no evidence for your belief that school uniforms are best for students.

    • 172. OhYeah | August 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm
    170. red shirt + khaki pants = Target employee

    • 173. Wendy5 | August 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    171 LSMom – most suburban schools don’t have gangbangers on the playground either.

    • 174. mom2 | August 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm
    My kids attend CPS schools. Neither of my kids attend a school with uniforms. They all have dress codes. Dress codes are much different than uniforms. Dress codes are things like “skirts and shorts must be knee length or below”, “no hats in school”, “no shirts with swear words”, etc. Just like in an office setting, I am pretty sure all schools have that, don’t they?

    • 175. LSMom | August 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    I do think they can make sense for some schools, if there’s a gang issue.
    I was curious about the research on uniforms and found this — http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/08/22/success-or-just-showing-up-uniforms-inspire-attendance-not-achievement/
    It does sound like there’s some positive impact on attendance and teacher retention but no impact on performance or behavior.
    All I’m saying is, my preference is to not have uniforms (and to not send my kids to a school where uniforms are necessary to prevent gang fights). I just wanted to provide the relatively anti-uniform perspective, overall there’s many more important issues to deal with in CPS.

    • 176. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm
    The anti-uniform stance is pretty much based upon what I thought. Thanks for confirming.

    • 177. LSMom | August 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm
    Glad I was able to clarify for you that uniforms do not change student behavior or academic performance.

    • 178. Gunnery Sgt Hartman | August 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm
    Red shirts and khakis would make your kids look like Target employees.

    • 179. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm
    Red and khaki are drab and do not constitute an attractive color palate. I am against it. I will find a school with an acceptable color palate.

    • 180. ?What? | August 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm
    179 i hope u r kidding

    • 181. OutsideLookingIn | August 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    Dear Parents: in a show of solidarity, please wear white shirts and blue pants every day of the school year for 8+ years. If you don’t, you will be known to all as a superficial, pampered, elitist, fashionista.
    Exceptions: Target employees

    • 182. SpellingB | August 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    179 — palette?

    • 183. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm
    Great idea, 181. We’d all save so much money and free ourselves from fashion distractions that we could afford to send our kids to private schools.

    • 184. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm
    183 – yep, that’s what LSmom calls that missing “it” factor CPS uniforms just don’t have.
    “most CPS school uniforms consist of a limited, drab palate.”
    “They ask for white, light blue, or navy blue tops with blue or black pants. That is not an especially attractive color palate.”

    • 185. LSMom | August 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm
    Sorry, I mistyped. Bet it wouldn’t have happened if I was wearing a white polo and blue polyester pants.

    • 186. You don’t know what you’re missing | August 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm
    LOVE uniforms, don’t care about drab, lack of individual expression bla bla. Let ‘em be creative with their hair/nails. No fights with middle schooler over appropriate length, modesty, no morning decisions. No beggin for the latest ‘it’ clothes to be seen in at school-This is limited only to coat, lunch box and backpack.Buy in bulk in August and DONE. Uniforms say, “You are here to work” “Weekend’s over”

    • 187. Uniforms | August 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm
    Was trying to just collect information. Got sidetracked by LSmom’s reasons. Her reasons bother me because they don’t seem to take underprivileged kids into account, but rather focus on style.
    Do others agree with this point that she makes – that schools like Lincoln Park’s Alcott want to rid the school of uniforms in order for the school to look “appealing”?

    • 188. cpsICK | August 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm
    186 amen to that! Focus on school.

    • 189. Been there done that | August 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm
    All the “poor” kids in my neighborhood look like crap in their uniforms. The uniforms look are pilled and 100% polyester. The are hot and uncomfortable! French toast makes super crappy uniforms! These uniforms are not cheap either. These “poor” people do not go to the Gap or Childrens place or lands End to buy thier 100% cotton uniforms. They go to Rainbow or some other ghetto type store, where they get ripped off.
    These same “poor” kids have colorful jeans and t-shirts and hoodies and colorful gym shoes all summer and on weekends. They shop at Walmart and other places. Please dont pigeon hole “poor” kids. Did you know that “poor” kids like to get their shoes at Foot Locker, yes I cant afford foot locker! They know style and can buy it probabably cheaper Underprilvelged kids would love to burn there uniforms!!!!! Dont get me started on the uniform shoes ,,, It is racket ,cps probably made a secret contract with French Toast! LOL! just like “breakfast in the classroom” for the “poor” kids while Chartwells is making millions off of the federal $$$ they collect for this program.

    • 190. Been there done that | August 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm
    Sorry for all the grammar errors. I thinking faster then I could type! LOL!!!

    • 191. SUE | August 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm
    We have a uniform but no one enforces it. In the words of my principal, “I am here to be an instructional leader, not the uniform cop”

    • 192. SUE | August 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm
    The LSC voted on uniforms but then not many parents really follow it except in primary. There are no real consequences either, except nagging teachers.

    • 193. NBCT Vet | August 14, 2012 at 11:49 pm
    My school is considering uniforms for very different reasons. Marketing will be the largest determining factor if we adopt uniforms.
    The Catholic schools and the charter schools in the neighborhood require uniforms. Right or wrong parents typically associate those uniforms with discipline, good behavior, and a business like attitude. For us, from a pure PR perspective, the uniforms disassociate or set apart our school (very good) from the neighborhood (pretty bad). Uniforms help change how the community conceives of our building and our students and keep us from being closed as the district divests from our building and our neighborhood school.
    Since we now have to sell families on our school because we are in competition for the best students and the most education-supportive families in the community, we really have little choice. So, uniforms it will likely be, despite the fact that our school is much better in student achievement, academic offerings, extracurriculars, test scores, etc. than any of the neighborhood’s private schools or charters.
    But that doesn’t matter. In the world of marketing and sales perception matters far more than reality.

    • 194. CPSMom&Teacher | August 15, 2012 at 7:06 am
    Historically, better academic schools (prep schools on the east coast and throughout England) have had school uniforms. I do agree that uniforms are a point of distinction. Uniforms also show unity.
    BTW If anyone is still in need, Old Navy has very decent polo shirts (various colors) for $5. You can even order on-line if your nearby store is out of the size you need.

    • 195. anonymouse teacher | August 15, 2012 at 7:16 am
    NBCT Vet, that’s an interesting perspective. I think for me, I’ve always associated uniforms in CPS and charters as something for schools struggling with major gang issues in or around the school. While the uniforms themselves (having them or not having them) is a non-issue for me, what they represent to me does. And to me, they represent some flimsy attempt at protecting kids from being shot walking to and from school. But, I can see where some parents would have a different association like you mentioned.
    For me personally, uniforms are so far down on the list of importance in choosing a school that it wouldn’t even make the list. It is surprising to me that parents really care about this.

  • 2. marcsims  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:11 am

    We have to help low income African American women raise the children properly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIHye1A_ZFw

    ________________________________

  • 3. nancy  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:17 am

    My problem is putting a white shirt each day on my pre schooler. Kind of ridiculous as he comes home very dirty. So while I have drawers of red, green, yellow shirts, I have to keep dressing him in stained white shirts or spend every waking moment looking for white shirts. I don’t know the answer, but I hate this forced white shirts scenario.

  • 4. Anti-Uniform Mom  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:17 am

    With so much regimentation in public schools, choosing one’s own outfit is a cherished and increasingly rare source of self-expression. Our school implemented a mandatory uniform policy for kids in grades 6-8 because of concern about the appropriateness of older student outfits (risque, etc.), so this was the last year my daughter and I could enjoy back-to-school clothes shopping together. 😦 I have no problem with a dress code, and if strictly followed, there is no need for uniforms. A kid wears something inappropriate, they wear a horrifying muumuu for the day, stored in the office for just that purpose! 🙂 True, some kids have better, more cool stuff (Uggs and Prada vs. Goodwill, etc.), but that’s the real world and you can’t change it by forcing uniforms. And, even with uniforms, kids will find ways to express their unique selves — wacky socks, pink hair and mohawks, colorful shoelaces, etc. Pro-uniform folks will say uniforms are less expensive and promote better behavior, but neither of these claims is supported by research. Within reason, I say let our kids choose what they want to wear!

  • 5. west rogers park mom  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:49 am

    I have kids in both uniform and non-uniform schools. The uniform schools have high percentages of kids who are low income and the non-uniform school does not. I don’t know if it is the personality of my two kids or the schools but ironically the kid from the Uniform schools is more acutely aware of labels and brand names. My non-uniform kid could care less.

    I agree with Anti-Uniform mom – even with a uniform kids still walk around in North Face jackets, Uggs, Toms, or whatever the latest trend is. Your white shirt can be from Old Navy of Hollister; your pants can be from LuLu mom or Target. The status issues are still there.

    My uniform kid was in a loose uniform school for years and there was a lot of room for individual expression. She is now at a school with a stricter uniform and has been sent to the ‘Dean’ for wearing a colored tank under her white shirt, wearing pedal pusher jeans, and for wearing knit pants.

    I must say of all the issues their are with CPS, this one is at about the bottom of the priority list.

  • 6. Crystal  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:56 am

    The lack of non-uniform school options will probably be the reason that we move to the suburbs. I’m sure this has been mentioned somewhere in the above posts, but with only 88 of 675 CPS schools NOT requiring uniforms and most of those closed to my kids because of school neighborhood boundaries, there are only a handful of school left to which we can even apply — and they are all impossible to get into. If your kid is not gifted and you don’t live in a coveted zip code, your chances of getting into a non-uniform school are probably about 5%, maybe 10% on a good year. It’s one of the factors pushing middle class families that would otherwise give CPS a chance out of the system. If Alcott goes non-uniform, I would be excited to add school #11 to my list of 20. Even with searching from the northern border of the city to the South Loop, so far, I am only up to 10 — all magnets, all impossible to gain admission.

  • 7. Crystal  |  August 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Sorry, I meant to say “one of the factors pushing SOME middle class families” out. School choices are obviously about much more than uniforms, but to some people environmental factors are an important piece of the equation of whether or not a school feels right to them. I wouldn’t care how many schools had uniforms in the system at all, if there were reasonable odds of getting into the others.

  • 8. you don't know what you are missing.  |  August 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

    It blows my mind that the uniform issue would drive a family to the suburbs or otherwise avoid an academically good school. We are talking about CLOTHES here. What is more important, other people’s perception of the school/ your child or the academic gains to be had at a good school?

  • 9. angie  |  August 15, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I am pro-uniform. Their uniforms are white top and blue bottoms. Yes, it annoyed me to see my kindergardener in a dirty white shirt everyday but he was five. They get dirty. Even if he was was wearing a red shirt, blue shirt, yellow shirt (oops!) or any other colored shirt, I guarantee that it will be dirty and you can tell how dirty is was because that is what they do.

  • 10. klm  |  August 15, 2012 at 9:40 am

    It does seem like uniforms (easy-to-care-for ones, anyway) make things so easy: there’s no fighting with (some) little girls (or some boys for that matter –it started in preschool with one of my kids) that want to dress themselves in ridiculously mismatched outfits, no arduous shopping trips for back-to-school clothes, no last-minute-rushed-morning flinging through dressers/closets/dryers/laundry baskets to find a clean matching outfit for your third child, etc. It just seems so much easier for me as a parent, frankly.

    Of course, I have lots of kids (relatively speaking), so I’m not in the same boat as somebody with 1 or 2 kids.

    I think that uniforms are a blessing to kids and families in inner-city areas. In those places, people have no real money, so there’s a lot of emphasis on “bling”. An extension of this is how one dresses one’s kids by spending money (as a sign about how much one ‘cares’) that really should almost always be going somewhere else to improve/support family conditions, etc. The expensive sneakers, the mini versions of expensive designer brands, etc. There’s real pressure to keep up appearances (remember all the stories of kids being shot in Detroit and the South Side over ‘Members Only’ jackets and certain expensive brands of basketball shoes in the 80s–some kids were literally killing to get these, such was the pressure to have them) in a way that’s almost completely unimportant to middle-class and upper-middle-class people, that are financially well-off and have enough money and security to not really bother or care too much about brands, labels, what other people think, etc. and believe that it’s totally stupid to pay $400 for a kid’s outfit when that money should be put aside for their college tuition in 16 years or maybe even a trust fund for their future financial security (A friend of mine’s sibling sells kids’ shoes at an upscale department store and tells her that the largest market for little $300+ Gucci loafers and Prada shoes for kids are from single, minority parents). This is why uniforms in public schools still are in many ways a marker of inner-city ones and why many of these even have rules about what kind of shoes, watches, jewelry, etc., that kids can wear –and for good reason, really.

    There are a million different ways that kids can differentiate themselves and express their individuality, so uniforms are hardly an oppressive means of dispiriting or regimenting children. In many cases, uniforms can free kids and parents to concentrate on what’s most important about school: LEARNING.

    Just saying.

  • 11. HS Mom  |  August 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

    The guys at Urban Prep look fabulous in their blazers and slacks. If they are striving for college they certainly look the part. At the high school level, the outfits barely adhere to policy and some of the things the kids wear (including my own) are a total distraction. Maybe some dressing up would help focus and performance.

    @189 if what you’re saying is that “poor” people value their casual clothes more than their school attire, maybe the answer is to dress it up more.

    CPSO – back when I went to catholic school, we wore pants under our dresses that we took off once we got to school.

  • 12. momtrolfreak  |  August 15, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I like the idea of uniforms in general (this is the first year my son will wear them and boy, was that some boring back to school shopping). Here’s what I don;t get–the clothes are regimented, but the outerwear isn’t. So you can wear whatever coat/jacket and shoes you want. And THAT’S more likely to be a show off area–uggs, north face, patagonia, etc. You can also have whatever backpack you want. Makes no sense.

  • 13. CPSappalled  |  August 15, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I’ve always been against uniforms for my kids, due to the lack of individual expression (very important to certain people) and comfort, but I do see how they can eliminate clothing competitions among middle school-aged girls. My complaint is that if you have a kid with Sensory Processing Disorder, uniforms can be a nightmare. Too scratchy, too constricting, etc. Schools could take that into account when planning uniforms, but they don’t. One of my children was at a private school where some girls came dressed in $200 outfits, and my child came dressed in re-sale shop clothes (how we could afford private school tuition). This year my child will attend a CPS school with a uniform and I’ve spent a lot more $$ buying back to school clothes than ever before. Hope it’s worth it.

  • 14. BeenThere7  |  August 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

    local catholic school makes kids wear gym uniforms (tshirt, shorts) under their uniform – dress oxford + knit vest + tie + dress pants + belt. ICK and uncomfortable. Welcome to 1960. Then they scold kids who don’t get redressed fast.
    I like dress code — not uniform.

  • 15. mom2  |  August 15, 2012 at 10:42 am

    NBCT Vet, I find your comments so interesting. You said how the parents in your neighborhood see uniforms as a great thing – a sign of “discipline, good behavior, and a business like attitude”. This perspective is exactly the opposite in my neighborhood. Instead of uniforms making a parent feel that the school must run well, it makes most parents I know feel that the school must have behavior issues and they are hoping that uniforms and a very strict and conforming atmosphere will help with that. The vibe is – stay away from that school, it doesn’t allow creativity and independent thinking. It does NOT say that this would be a great place for my child. How very fascinating! More proof that CPS has very different student bodies with vastly different needs and attitudes. One size does not fit all!

  • 16. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Momtrolfreak you are back?! 🙂

    I’m sure some smartass blogmate will direct me to the LMGTFY site — but does anyone have information on the cost of uniforms versus non-uniforms for a year?

  • 17. Falconergrad  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:01 am

    @momtrolfreak
    It would be pretty impractical for everyone to have the same outerwear and backpack. They would get mixed up all the time since they are not worn at all times.

    I am pro uniform. I did not wear one when I went to cps k thru 8 and then did wear one for catholic hs. Either way was a non issue. I do like uniforms in general. I don’t see how white or light blue and navy can be considered horrid. It’s a classic color combo. My daughter looks adorable in her uniform. She loves it and chooses to wear it long past school hours. We can buy from wherever we want. I do think super specific uniform requirements are unnecessary. My daughter is hard enought to fit for shoes, I cannot imagine if we had only a few to choose from.

    As far as the “class” issues, that is all grown up perception, no? I don’t see it nor do I care to. Kids need to be dressed appropriately for school. Uniforms make it easier to achieve that without a lot of policing.

  • 18. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:03 am

    What falconergrad said. Well put.

  • 19. Frango Mint  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

    When I was a kid I always wished my school had a uniform, because they seemed so “elite”. Real uniforms (skirt or pants, shirt, tie, logo sweater vest) can be very classy looking and teach kids that when you look sharp, people take you more seriously. Someone already brought up the young men at Urban Prep – their uniform is a big deal to them, and definitely contributes to their positive image.

    I would love to see more schools adopt real uniforms. Each school could choose vest and tie colors that go with their school colors.

  • 20. klm  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:54 am

    @15

    That’s an interesting and informative point. I guess, in some cases, given which CPS are using school uniforms, a uniform can sometimes mean “ghetto” or “gang-infested” rather than “we focus on academics and what’s on the inside, not superficial current casual styles”, etc.

    As in, “That school’s so ‘ghetto’ or ‘bad-a**’ that they make the kids wear uniforms.”

    As usual –unintended consequences of an idea born of good intentions. Something to think about.

  • 21. kiki h.  |  August 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I’m a lover of uniforms because they make the mornings so easy, and they work out to be pretty inexpensive. No deeper reason than that. Both of my kids’ uniform schools have been fairly flexible.

    I am pleased, however, to have gotten my 6-year-old son out of a white shirt school and into one where navy and dark green are options. I was feeling a lot of shame about the condition of his shirts by the end of last school year.

    (BTW, as a PSA to you white shirters out there, my neighbor just introduced me to fels-naptha, which works wonders on the white shirts.)

  • 22. chicagodad  |  August 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Without having read the above comments (tick tock tick tock) I’ll chime in. The bottom line for me is that it is a school by school decision. In some schools it is a great and useful thing, and in others it’s just plain stupid. Negative fashion/peer pressure issues are best dealt with by individual parents and then by the school if the problem is bad enough, but this is just a partial abatement of that problem at best, as “keeping up with the Jones” has been with us forever. Uniforms will never stop the formation of cliques, just not possible. In some schools it’s great for parents who can take advantage of uniform sales to save badly needed money and as a way of mitigating another aspect of the Jones problem, lack of unity of purpose in becoming educated. Like I said, school by school, community by community. Uniforms no not eliminate peer pressure, personal/group identity or behavior issues, they just change how they occur. It must be a local decision.

  • 23. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Just like state-by-state handling of race/gender equality didn’t work, school-by-school decisions on things having to do with equality often don’t work.

    These school-by-school decisions are made by people with a voice. At our school that’s the wealthy stay at home mothers and the occasional artsy-underemployed dad.

    Those vocal uber-appearance-aware people are the ones who we want deciding what the rest can afford? Those certainly aren’t the ones with a child who has maybe two sets of school clothes and fears taunting for wearing the.same.thing every day.

  • 24. cpsobsessed  |  August 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    @Uniforms, I don’t know that it’s fair to blame the people in power at the school. Everyone has the option to get into power and/or make their opinions clear. Get another group into power, and THEY can make the decisions. CPS schools as a whole tend to be run by those who step up. It’s the nature of the beast. I get tired of people who DON’T get involved complaining about the efforts of those who do (not saying you’re doing that) but if these people have been voted into power by the school body, they get to make the rules. People don’t like it, they can vote different people in, right?

  • 25. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    The single mom with little english language skills working two jobs with four kids and no family support has no time to participate in school decision-making. They also don’t post on this board as you well know.

    Sadly, she has to put her trust in those who do have time on their hands. At my school its the lululemon moms and the “I work freelance” dads.

  • 26. Family Friend  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I wore uniforms (really ugly ones) from K-12. Everything was strictly enforced, from the length of the skirt (must touch the floor when you knelt) to the size of our purses (5″ x 8″ by 1″). It did not scar me for life or impact my fashion sense. It did remind us that we were focused on school, not appearance.

    CPSO, you have a son, right? Or you would not have commented on little girls and skirts in the winter. My two daughters wore uniforms from K-8 and had a pants option — one year I bought pants, and it was a complete waste of money. Both absolutely refused to wear them. I would stick a pair of corduroys or stretch pants in the backpack so they could put them on under the skirt if they were cold, but some days even that was a struggle.

    As for uniforms and discipline, the results are mixed, WSJ notwithstanding. At many schools, strict enforcement of a uniform or dress code is part of a “broken windows” philosophy: if we are picky about small things, we will have fewer large issues to deal with. I have seen it work, over and over. The problem is that too many schools are weak on enforcement.

    Finally, my protegee, whose family are refugees, is about to start high school in a school attended by students from the Gold Coast. She is worried about not having a uniform for the first time in her life (she attended school in Gabon and at a charter school) — she knows she won’t be able to keep up with the fashions, and it adds to her general anxiety about starting high school.

  • 27. SutherlandParent  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    We are in a non-uniform school, and the topic comes up every once in awhile. But I’m not sure anyone feels passionately enough about it to drive it on to the LSC agenda. I think there’s a sense that our kids generally abide by the dress code, and we have other things to worry about. Since we have so many Catholic schools in our neighborhood that require uniforms (along with perfectly good neighborhood schools in the 19th Ward with uniforms), I don’t think it’s a perception problem.

    I’d be pro-uniform–it would cut waaay down on the dressing drama in my house in the morning! And I’m not sold on the idea that wearing a uniform will deprive my children of special rights to self-expression.

    One of the big advantages to uniforms that I see is the “spirit day,” where kids “win” the right to wear jeans. It’s easy, it’s free, and the kids I know who have this option get excited about it. Now that our principal has absolutely forbidden any outside food from being brought in, we don’t have many easy, affordable ways to reward the kids. We used to have pizza day, say for the grade that brought in the most Box Tops, but that’s not an option anymore.

  • 28. cpsobsessed  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    For the record, I do have 1 son who could not care less about clothing. His dad and I buy him neutral colored stuff at Target (where they have very cute stuff IMO). He puts on what I hand him every morning. So I can’t jump into the conversation, really. I always thought I’d be happier if all americans wore scrubs to work each day, like nurses/docs do. I don’t like thinking about clothing. As long as my butt doesn’t look big, I’m fine. 🙂 I believe that as a young girl I would have HATED uniforms and I always felt sorry for Catholic school kids. Somehow the fashion side of me died out over the years.

    As for the high school kids, I feel like a lot of them look the same at the school I drive by. At Lane they all seem to look the same, at Amundsen (uniforms) they look the same. But dingy shirted in white. I’m sure that is my untrained parent eye talking and they all look vastly different to each other.

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    @Uniforms – agreed. Are there THAT many families where it is truly impossible though? Not to get involved, but to vote? At my old neighborhood school the “not gentrified” families always turned out to vote and had plenty of representation on the LSC. Perhaps family situations were different. I don’t have time to get involved, so I live with the decisions of those who do. Not sure what I’d do if I vehemently disagreed. One would HOPE that an LSC would consider the needs of the entire student body.

    I’m gonna be laughing about this all day btw: lululemon moms and the “I work freelance” dads.

  • 30. HS Mom  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    @28 CPSO – that will change 🙂
    Once you start losing control over what they wear it’s T’s with rock album covers with skulls, rats and doomsday themes. For girls a whole additional set of issues. The dress code can’t possibly cover all the things they come up with. Not only that, sending a kid home would consume a half day of missed class time (which I’m sure enters into the enforcement issue).

  • 31. Patricia  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    A year ago, I would have been a vocal supporter of the uniform, but two of my kids switched to schools without uniforms. What a pleasant surprise for me. It is so nice, easier, cheaper and the kids like it so much better. For my family, it has been a positive effortless change.

    The issues of ease, equality, peer pressure, etc. are present (or not) regardless of the uniform. I think Chicago dad stated it very well. Having a uniform seems to magnify the attention on what shoes, jacket or backpack you have. Our experience at the non uniform schools has been similar to what CPSO pointed out in the intro. “I am pleased to say that at my son’s school, everyone (including the kids in the nearby million dollar “homes) seem to dress equally shlubby and/or in Target clothing.” This has been our experience too at the non-uniform schools. I tend to think a school like Alcott would transition fine to no uniform, if that is what the school community decides. My understanding is that they formed a committee to evaluate the option. The LSC is not dictating anything, just facilitating the discussion/evaluation.

  • 32. anotheralcottparent  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    To the previous Alcott parent-I think your perception is wrong about the LSC and the Alcott “Lincoln Park” community. First, Alcott is a neighborhood school and not a magnet, so there is a large percentage of students from Lincoln Park and nearby neighborhoods. It’s their neighborhood school, so it’s certainly within their rights to “loudly” or quietly express their opinions. Second, I know many of the people who spoke up on the Alcott Parents Forum. Many of those “Lincoln Park” families are the ones who spoke up in favor of uniforms.

    By the way, I am not in favor of them, don’t live in Lincoln Park and spoke out against uniforms on the Board. I didn’t attend the last LSC meeting, but it didn’t sound like it was a particularly hot topic at the meeting and a committee has been formed to address it.

    Yes, there are plenty of other issues that the LSC can address which I believe is why a subcommittee was formed. This is a brand new LSC, they certainly can’t be held responsible for issues that languished in the past. I, for one, am thrilled that an issue that raised by parents was quickly addressed by the LSC and passed to a subcommittee so that it doesn’t take up LSC resources. There was an open call for volunteers for the committee, so perhaps you would be a good person to represent the viewpoint of keeping the current uniform requirements in place.

    Alcott is a great and open community and it seems to me the discussion about uniforms was respectful and representative of both sides. To me, those are values I want to embrace.

  • 33. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Our neighborhood school does not have a uniform but like all schools has a dress code. I recall the principal has sent home 8th grade girls for what they have worn. Honestly (and I am a prude), I was surprised the mothers allowed them to wear the clothing.

    I don’t like uniforms, but of course a dress code respecting one’s self/school/community should be enforced.

    I like my kids to be able to wear nice clothes and look cute. I like my kids to dress nicely BUT #30 HS Mom is sooooo correct~somedays my son wants to put on a Tee w/a rock album cover on it.

  • 34. Mom  |  August 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I wore uniforms through grade school and absolutely hated them! I also believe that they stifled my ability to dress with style and ease. I don’t believe that uniforms end up being the cheaper option — you still need to buy your kids clothes for outside of school time, and what you are spending on the uniforms is what you would have put toward the additional number of “street” clothes you would need if there were no uniforms. The argument that it cuts down on peer competition regarding dress also does not sway me because it does not eliminate that concern — it only moves the competition to other aspects of dress and to what one wears hanging out after school and on the weekends. If you fear your kid getting made fun of for wearing schlubby/unfashionable clothes during the school day, what makes you think it can’t happen after school instead? Moreover, such is life. There will always be people who have more than we do. Our job as parents is not to eliminate that reality, but to teach our kids how to handle it appropriately. There seems to be such a crazy urge these days to sanitize every environment for our children to insulate them so that no one ever feels any pang of bad in comparison to anyone else. If that were even possible (which it is not), doing so only delays the inevitable — the reality that comes when you head to the real world. And that reality might seem especially harsh to a child who has never had the chance to learn how to deal with it. Finally, I do have a sneaking suspicion that there are some interests vested in making money from uniforms, whether or not it is good for the kids. All that said, I certainly would respect any school that wanted uniforms due to unique circumstances — gangs, the desire to create respectful attitudes toward school, etc.

  • 35. brigidkeely  |  August 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    My (parochial) grade school had uniforms and, since I was a poor kid in the 80s going to school with a bunch of affluent kids, I really appreciated it. We wore street clothes on the first Friday of every month because we went to a special Mass, and there were a LOT of very expensive name brands on about 75% of the kids, and a lot of snobbery directed at the 25% who didn’t/couldn’t match them. It got to the point where the administration ended the street clothing days. If I hadn’t grown up wearing uniforms I might have a different opinion, but I always felt they leveled the playing field and also gave students a sense of identity and unity.

  • 36. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Alcott probably not the best example – it is a school scrambling to stay alive since central office has its eye on merging it with Lincoln. Makes sense when over 50% of Alcott student body comes from lottery spots while close neighbor Lincoln is way overcrowded.

    Thanks to all for the comments. Lots to think about both ways.

  • 37. southie  |  August 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Tip: Downy Wrinkle Releaser spray saved my child (and me!) from school-clothes hell. I haven’t touched an iron in years.

  • 38. Mary  |  August 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Let’s me honest here. The primary purpose of school uniforms is to make sure our students are safe from gangs and all the colors they represent, ensure that students are not distracted from all the latest clothing trends, and to create equality with all students from the have’s and have not’s in society who can’t afford new clothes. Either way it’s a good idea as long as it’s being enforced at the school level. In the South, any student not in uniform are suspended. They have zero tolerance for any student testing the waters. However, in CPS, no student could be disciplined (suspension) for being out of uniform.

  • 39. AskWtf99  |  August 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    34 “I also believe that they stifled my ability to dress with style and ease.” seriously????????????????????????

  • 40. AskWtf99  |  August 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    38 — dress code is fine as long as it is spelled out and enforced.

  • 41. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    #40 – I know. For even more jaw dropping anti-uniform reasons just read LSmom’s posts about drab and unattractive “palates” driving her views.

  • 42. LSMom  |  August 15, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    @Uniforms, you are being deliberately obtuse in honing in on one aspect of my dislike of uniforms. I listed many objections to uniforms, including the limited color scheme. I suspect you enjoy repeating that part because it fits with your narrow-minded stereotype of why someone might object to uniforms.

    I listed a number of reasons that I object to uniforms. I believe they do not save money, they have no impact on performance, and I observe that many of the top schools in CPS that are appealing do not have them. I’m not convinced that they do much to minimize class differences (which of course I do care about).

    Other people have listed some compelling reasons that they support of uniforms. and I appreciate that. I’ve said that I’m perfectly willing to send my children to a uniform school, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    And I mistyped! It happens.

  • 43. LSMom  |  August 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    And furthermore, I never said that the color scheme drives my views! You specifically zeroed in on that aspect (again, seeking confirmation for your bias), and so I elaborated.

  • 44. AskWtf99  |  August 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    43 — distressed?

  • 45. LSMom  |  August 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to get so heated! Honestly, uniforms are not even a subject I’m that passionate about, I just felt like I was being unfairly characterized as some sort of callous, shallow lululemon mom and got a little defensive. Sorry again.

  • 46. UniformAnswer  |  August 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    #32. Thank you. I am not an Alcott parent but the parent of a CPS neighborhood school child in a school without uniforms. To broadly stereotype Lincoln Park moms was kind of offensive to me. I dislike broad stereotypes in general.

    The de facto uniform at our school is pretty much anything from Target — even among those parents that can afford much more. I don’t see a lot of parading of wealth through clothing. I think we see what we want to see or see in stereotypes — which is why I dislike them.

    That said, although I am pretty sure the issue of uniforms will not be coming up at any of our LSC meetings in the near future (too low on the list of priorities), I honestly can’t say that I’d be against them.

    I love me some Target. But, I would be totally fine with a school uniform.

  • 47. anotheralcottparent  |  August 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Wow. What’s with the harshness? Alcott is hardly struggling. If we were in any other neighborhood, we wouldn’t have been considered as a takeover school. CPS doesn’t have a lot of options for Lincoln’s overcrowding. Because, on paper, we look underutilized, we were considered a reasonable solution. We raise a lot of money to keep our classes small. We’re one of the top CPS fundraising schools in the city. Our new principal is not exactly one who would take over a school “struggling to stay alive.” He came from Oriole Park, rated above Lincoln, Burley, Blaine, Hawthorne, etc. A large percentage of neighborhood kids are attending and our incoming kindergarten class had only a few lottery in, hardly 50% as a future projection. Not sure why the need to put down Alcott came up, but I felt like a little clarification was needed. Sorry to have gone off topic.

  • 48. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    No Alcott harshness from me if you’re talking about me. My recommendation was to take it out of the equation for uniform discussions since they are making decisions based on things way beyond what goes on at most schools.

    You seem like you are in the know — so tell me, Alcott isn’t on the block to merge with Lincoln now?

    I read that this year for the first time in a few years the principal allowed in sibling kinders even if they weren’t neighbhorhood — just to get the in-neighborhood percentages up on paper. To look less like a takeover target. A lot of people presume Alcott will be LPAnnex very soon. So, uniforms won’t be an issue since LP is uniform free.

  • 49. Uniforms  |  August 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    *in-neighborhood meaning nearby Lincoln Park kids. The ones that can afford the $10K preschool.

  • 50. OutsideLookingIn  |  August 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I heard that several wealthy Lincoln Park parents have commissioned Lululemon to design new uniforms for Alcott students. Children who cannot afford the $400 per uniform price tag will be hired as recess supervisors and lunchroom monitors until they can pay off their debt. It’s all part of an evil plan.

  • 51. Jen  |  August 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I went to school in the UK so I always wore a uniform to school, and I know how to dress in the real world lol! I will say that the assumption that uniforms eliminate the pressure on lower income parents is a false one. It was always obvious which families had less money, whether it was because their pants were way too short by winter break, or they wore the same blazer for the entire 5 years, or their white shirt was yellow etc. I’m not saying it would have been easier if we could have worn our own clothes, but it wasn’t the picture of equality people always assume it is.

  • 52. Former Catholic School Kid  |  August 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I am against uniforms for many of the reasons others have stated (but which have been conveniently ignored by some). I don’t understand why some pro-uniform people are so completely dumbfounded that someone would have a different opinion. I can certainly see the “pro” side, even though I disagree with it. Why all the snark?

    I dress my kids in clothes from resale shops, but I like giving them the option of wearing what they want to wear (and giving them some control over that small aspect of their lives). We don’t have fights about clothing in the morning; I do not let them buy things that are inappropriate and so just about anything in their closet is fair game. I wore a uniform K – 8 (catholic school; horrible plaid, and back then we couldn’t wear pants and had to take them off from under the jumper or skirt once we got to school). When I was in grade school, I was one of the “poor” kids and the uniform did nothing to help that — instead, it was All About The Shoes (and I never had the right ones, so uniform or no uniform, I wasn’t spared anything). My experience obviously colors how well I think uniforms “level the playing field.”

    I am entirely in favor of dress codes (which would eliminate any problem clothing if enforced). Kids in middle school, in particular, are old enough to start to learn about appropriate clothing and the message their clothing sends about themselves to the rest of the world. Shielding them and taking the decision away from them only delays that learning experience in my opinion.

  • 53. Math Teacher  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I think that part of the problem might be that, quite often, parents do not know what is appropriate and what is not. I cannot tell you how many girls I sent to the office for inappropriate clothing last spring. Although it may seem harmless, something that is just a bit “skimpy” can causes a distraction among 15 year old boys more than you know. Also, I cannot count how many times I ran into girls changing clothes before the first bell. Yes, I think that the uniforms serve a purpose as far a gang colors are concerned, but they also help those parents who cannot make good decisions with their children. As a teacher, I don’t care about color palettes, trendy khakis or whether or not your child expresses themselves with their clothing. I certainly feel that they have more than enough time after their new “fuller day” (is that what it’s called now?) to make an impression on the world. I want their focus to be on calculators, pencils and problem solving. Particularly the girls.

  • […] School Uniforms in CPS: Love em’ or Hate em cpsobsessed: It sounds as if Alcott, one of the north side “neighborhood” (I say that in quotes because for years it’s been a sought-after Lottery school) with uniforms seems to be talking about doing away with them. […]

  • 55. Former Catholic School Kid  |  August 16, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I am the parent of a 15 year old boy, so I DO know how easily he can be distracted by something “skimpy,” thank you very much. But if you have trouble with parenting choices, then enforce a dress code so the children (and perhaps the parents) DO learn what’s appropriate.

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  August 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

    You guys are scaring me about teenagers. I can’t believe my sweet baby will ever be distracted by girls.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 57. Math Teacher  |  August 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

    We do enforce the dress code. I guess that I don’t feel that I should be taking time away from teaching and learning to do so.

  • 58. LR  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Both my kids will be in CPS non-uniform schools this year, but previously we went to a Catholic school, where I was head of the uniform committee. One of the arguments I have heard for going to uniforms at public school is that the dress code is easier to enforce. Think again! When you have a more well-defined definition of what is acceptable, it is a constant struggle to make sure kids are not violating the guidelines. I know that those guidelines are looser at public schools than private, but still, someone has to be responsible for enforcing it, which is no small task. Other myths: when you have uniforms there is less laundry. Trust me…even if your kids are excited about uniforms at first, they will soon grow tired of them and change clothes as soon as they get home, creating double laundry for you. Also, I reject the idea that uniforms are cheaper. They are an extra financial burden, as they are not clothes that I would otherwise buy and not clothes that my kids would wear anywhere but to school. If you can convince your kid to wear nothing but uniforms all the time, kudos to you. But, I don’t know many people who are able to do this. If public schools do use uniforms, I kind of like what Providence Catholic high school does. The kids there can wear any color of slacks (khaki, navy, black or olive) and any color polo, as long as it has the Providence logo. I am surprised that more parents don’t object to white polos. That seems like the only color that should not be used (dirt, markers, etc. in elementary school and sweat stains in jr. high = yuck!).

  • 59. Retired Principal  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

    When I became the Principal of an inner city CPS elementary school in 1987, we did not have a uniform policy. However, several years later, the topic was raised. I was not supportive of a uniform policy, believing that it would just be one more thing for me to enforce. However, we surveyed parents, and an overwhelming number (something like 142 to 1) wanted it, so we put it in place. We used our existing school colors (blue and gold/yellow), and made it mandatory, and it worked. Everyone could identify our children as they walked to and from school by their yellow shirts, and it brought pride to the school and to the entire community. Compliance was outstanding. We even had polos made with our school’s logo on them, and sold them to both staff and students at cost (which I seem to remember being $5.00). We also had a “Staff in Uniform Day”, so every Tuesday everyone in the building wore the blue and yellow.
    My point is simple. You can fight a uniform policy, or you can embrace it and use it to your advantage. Either way, get over it and concentrate on the instructional program.

  • 60. IBobsessed  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

    @52 &mtf We are a middle class family at a private school that has uniforms. Most of the families have far, far more disposable income than we do. I am GLAD there are uniforms, although they do not completely eliminate the brand consciousness/status competition, I can clearly see how it would be much more intense and preoccupying if every article of clothing and accessories was thrown into the mix. Kid wants a NorthFace jacket, Vera Bradley lunchbox, and Uggs. They way it is now, I can “throw her a bone” and get a low end NorthFace jacket with coupon, say ‘No’ to Uggs, make her buy the the Vera Bradley herself. Can’t imagine what it would be like if everyone was wearing premium denim everyday and Abercrombie/Banana Republic. Plus the effort and time she would be putting into ‘what to wear’. I want her mind on learning.

  • 61. Math Teacher  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

    “Either way, get over it and concentrate on the instructional program.” So well said.

  • 62. LR  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

    @25: Hahaha! I am totally laughing about Lululemon moms and “I work freelance” dads. I have to admit, I had to look up what Lululemon is, but now I understand : ) We don’t go to Alcott, but we go to a school with a similar segment of the population. Love the school, but I often feel under-dressed.

    @59: That’s great that uniforms had such a positive impact on your school. I agree with the poster above, though, who stated that it isn’t right for every school. At our school there are 1,000 kids and most abide by the dress code without uniforms. I don’t think it is right to punish everyone just for the handful of kids that break the rules. But, at the same time I understand and respect that it works for your school. I just hope this never becomes another thing that CPS tries to shove down our throats as being “good for our kids.” I hope it always remains up to the individual school.

  • 63. Wisenup  |  August 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Love dress codes that work. A friend works at a suburban hs. She keeps a closet full of “dud” clothes the kids who break the dress code get to change into for the day. They usually only wear this stuff once and then follow the rules. Ha ha. This works in preschool and hs, go figure.

  • 64. mom2  |  August 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

    “I just hope this never becomes another thing that CPS tries to shove down our throats as being “good for our kids.” I hope it always remains up to the individual school.” – I agree 100%

    “get over it and concentrate on the instructional program.” – I think people are just biding their time with this topic while we wait for CTU/CPS strike news. Getting impatient.

  • 65. SeenItAll  |  August 16, 2012 at 11:36 am

    After having worked for the past 20+ years in CPS schools that have and have not had uniforms here’s what I’ve discovered. Students hate them, teachers are reprimanded if administration comes into your classroom and a student is out of uniform (usually the pants), security has to issue daily with students who come to school out of uniform, etc. The answer to high school school students out of uniform was to give them a gym shirt to wear, usually in a very bright obnoxious color. Other practices included sending students home which is against the law but was done anyway.

    This spring I watched the entire student population at the school I worked at come together and decide that none of them would come to school in uniforms. Usually these students would be sent to in-school suspension but there was so many that they just let the students go to class. I never thought I’d see the day when students would overrun the administration and show that they were going to do what they wanted to do. Finally, the assistant principal made the announcement that if a student was out of uniform they would face other consequences.

    Students shouldn’t be suspended or put out of class because of what they are wearing. This is a horrible direction CPS took in the enforcement of uniform policies in high schools. Rationale for keeping the students safe, eliminating the divide between the students whose parents could and those parents who could not afford designer items, and creating a feeling of uniformity hasn’t really worked in most schools. Students sneak in with designer sneakers, tops worn over uniform shirts, under uniform shirts, etc. At the beginning and the end of the day it is really about instructional time in the classroom which so many of our students as well as teachers are losing because of out-of-uniform issues.

    If a school can establish a culture built around common acceptance by students, parents, and community then uniforms work. It’s a shame we have spent so much time and so many years on an issue that is totally non-academic but has such a huge impact on the learning environment at so many of our schools.

  • 66. HS Mom  |  August 16, 2012 at 11:39 am

    @64 right you are. If we were told to wear purple with polka dots at our school we would, gladly, happy to be there. I can certainly see that there can be much more to a uniform other than gang issues, though I completely empathize with the white shirt on a little kid. Mine could never keep one clean or free of spills.

  • 67. RUMC Mom  |  August 16, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I’ve never favored uniforms because, to me, they restrict a child’s expression and individuality. My son will be attending a school that requires uniforms; however, there are options. There are four color options for tops and three color options for bottoms. Also, they are only required to wear them from October – May. This is acceptable to me because it’s like getting the best of both worlds.

  • 68. NW Chicago Mom  |  August 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    @65 – That’s awesome! My applause to those students for civic action! What school was this? I’ll still probably move to the suburbs because of the lack of choice in school environment here (really, only a 5-10% chance of getting accepted into a non-uniform school?), but I’d definitely check out this school. Incidentally, I was the poorest kid in my class for 10 years and still valued the chance to pick my own clothes (albeit from the 25 cent rack at Salvation Army and hand-me-downs), so I don’t buy the assumptions about wealth necessarily meaning that all — or even a majority — of poor kids want uniforms. Instead of parents choosing, I’d love to see the kids get to choose what kind of learning environment they want, or at least get a voice in the matter.

  • 69. Jill from Raise Your Hand  |  August 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I get the equalizer argument, but overlooked is the “hidden curriculum” of what having to wear a uniform teaches a child. While there are instances where it may be helpful, overall it teaches children that they must obey. While to some (or most) this may seem laudable or benign, uniform policies have the power to stifle self expression, a sense of self determination and ultimately creativity and divergent thinking — which are so desperately needed to invent and innovate.

  • 70. Kelly Kerchum  |  August 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Your blog is incorrect in regards to Alcott and our uniform policy. We are not doing away with our uniform policy – east campus (elementary) policy is navy pants/skirts and white/blue collerd shirts and west campus (high school) policy is kakahi pants/skirts and white collered shirts.

    Our LSC is simply “retaking” a look at our current policy, based on the request of our community.

  • 71. IBobsessed  |  August 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    “the power to stifle self expression, a sense of self determination and ultimately creativity and divergent thinking — which are so desperately needed to invent and innovate”

    Don’t think this happens simply due to a uniform policy. If this were true, you would see a dearth of divergent thinking in private/parochial school kids, and that demonstrably does not happen. Again, we are talking about CLOTHES, a tiny IMO unimportant part of life.

  • 72. IBobsessed  |  August 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Come to any private or just about any parochial and you will see far more critical thinking going on than in most test/score “right” answer driven, fact focused CPS classroom. The kids are taught to write, given permission to be creative and get the wrong answer because many privates do not even have grades until middle school.

  • 73. Mayfair Dad  |  August 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I never really thought about the marketing aspect of uniforms, but I don’t really have a strong opinion pro or con. I suppose it might eliminate some early morning drama getting the kids out the door – same outfit every day, no decisions to make. Regardless of whether or not a school has a uniform policy, a rock solid “No Gang Colors” policy must be in place. A uniform probably makes that easier to implement and enforce.

  • 74. Mayfair Dad  |  August 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    P.S. Welcome newbies.

  • 75. a mom  |  August 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    As a parent whose child started at a Catholic school with the white shirt (ugh!!!) and navy pants uniform, and now is at a CPS dress code school, I personally prefer the dress code. I’m sorry but anyone who says it gets rid of kids knowing who has money and who doesn’t, is sorely mistaken. It seemed that since the uniform limited a show of wealth it made any chance to show it more prevalent. Uggs and Hunter rainboots, designer coats, headbands, bookbags, lunch boxes and outrageously priced gym and dress shoes on 5 yr olds were standard. What six year needs a Burberry scarf, really? Also, the uniforms are not cheap, and as pointed out earlier, they become extra clothes (and a pair of dress shoes) that I wouldn’t have to buy otherwise. Since we could really only afford to buy one pair of shorts and two pants, and a few white shirts, I had to do laundry more often because we couldn’t buy enough for everyday. The white shirts were a nightmare and the mandatory embroidered vest and cardigan cost more for my 5 year old than I would spend on a sweater for myself. Oh, and kids tend to grow during the year, so double that. I know that most people don’t have this problem, but my one child has sensory issues that made getting him dressed in the uncomfortable uniform a screaming session every morning. People talk about lack of self expression – he had no problem expressing his sentiments about how awful they felt! We are now at a CPS school in a very nice area, but their Old Navy and Target clothing has never been an issue – although we are still in the lower grades. I know that the
    dress code is enforced there and it is not often that the kids break the rules. I guess for us the CPS dress code rules have been easier, cheaper and less stressful for our family. But, we are also extremely lucky to be in a school without a large gang problem.

  • 76. karet  |  August 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I don’t feel strongly one way or the other (a plain shirt and pants/skirt uniform seems fine to me). My son’s school is very close to the British School, so we frequently see the students outside the school. I must say: their uniforms are so exceedingly ridiculous that even if I had a billion dollars, I wouldn’t send my kids there!

  • 77. CPSMom&Teacher  |  August 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    From working in an elementary school before and after the implementation of school uniforms… I welcome uniforms.

    Adults, being held somewhat accountable right here, on this topic cut pretty close to the bone when negatively describing (judging?) how children look in their clothes. Now, remove accountability and the adult restraint and put those thoughts in the brain of middle school students. Will math be at the forefront of their brains?

    Teachers do address uniforms almost daily, but I prefer to address the “uniform problem” rather than the daily “clothing absorption / fighting / bullying problem”. Having uniforms has really made a positive difference. (There does need to be teacher “buy-in”- unity, if you will- among the staff. If a teacher badmouths a uniform policy to the students, it does plant a bad seed.)

    Uniforms allow kids to focus on school. They still see their friends, socialize, show amazing creativity and individuality throughout their day with words, actions and academic progress. They still get to be kids.

    I’ve found uniforms to be an unexpected source of growth for school spirit, and as a life lesson, unity with others. It’s a work in progress, but the results are there.

  • 78. momofboys  |  August 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I’m neither pro nor con uniforms – I have only boys who don’t care one bit about fashion, as long as their clothes are comfortable. But I was looking for short-sleeve button-down shirts for them for an outdoor wedding this summer, and the only ones I could find were school uniform shirts! Thank you, JC Penney and the uniform code of some school (:

  • 79. Jen  |  August 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    @68 moving to the suburbs to get more choices in schools?! You usually get one choice, and have to up sticks and move if you want another. Your comment confused me.

  • 80. IB obsessed  |  August 17, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Thank you @77.

  • […] School Uniforms in CPS: Love em' or Hate em' « CPS Obsessed […]

  • 82. Mom  |  August 17, 2012 at 11:13 am

    @ 79. The lack of choice comment was regarding how few non-uniform schools are available in CPS and how impossible it is to get into them, if that’s among your school priorities. It’s interesting that so many of the highest performing schools in the city are non-uniform, when they are so rare across the system as a whole. I was personally quite surprised by how few non-uniform options there were in the city when I started shopping around for kindergarten and how many people accept the lack of options as a fact of life in Chicago schooling without questioning it (and the number of people who express hostility toward those who express a desire for a non-uniform option — you already have 90% of the schools in the city, do you really think it’s going to hurt your chances of finding a school if one or two more options become available to people who don’t share your opinion?). I never realized how prevalent uniforms were here since they have been non-existent everywhere else I’ve lived except for parochial schools. Must be a big city thing, not so common in smaller cities where there is not so much white flight.

    Re: the suburban comment: If you’re seeking a more relaxed environment, then you have to be very lucky in the magnet lottery or move to the suburbs (or prep your kid for the gifted exam since many of the SE options are non-uniform). Then again, I was surprised that so few city schools offer a diverse student body too.

  • 83. cpsobsessed  |  August 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Really? Back when I looked at schools, Alcott was the only uniform (loosely defined blue bottoms white top) school I came across. Someone said Stone was? I don’t think it was when I toured 5 years ago. What other elem schools are?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 84. Mom  |  August 17, 2012 at 11:46 am

    The news reports from the spring were that 88 of 675 schools require uniforms. Admittedly, I haven’t tried to create my own list of 88, although I did email CPS to ask for a list and I haven’t heard back, but that number jives with my own count. Many of the magnets do not require uniforms (Disney II, etc.) along with many of the SEES schools, and several neighborhood schools (usually in more privileged neighborhoods – or neighborhoods that want to be perceived as up and coming). We’re searching from the northern border of the city to the South Loop and I’ve only come up with 10 schools so far to add to our list — all magnets. There are an additional 10 or 15 neighborhood schools that are listed as open enrollment, but thus far, all of the principals of those schools who have replied to my inquiries have said that it’s extraordinarily rare for them to have a space for a non-neighborhood kid since they’re already on the CPS space utilization “overcrowded” list (whew! class sizes of 30+, don’t even get me started on how much of a turn-off this one is…). I’ve excluded gifted and classical schools from my count both because I think it’s unlikely my kids are gifted and because the prosect of schlepping my kids to three different schools around the city and trying to make it to work on time makes me shudder.

    It’s interesting — all but one of the non-uniform schools I’ve looked up has scores that look fantastic, to the extent that scores give you some kind of an imperfect measuring stick to compare schools — particularly in neighborhoods that might otherwise be pretty comparable. No wonder they’re in such hot demand.

  • 85. Also mom  |  August 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Stone requires black/blue pants or dark jeans. White or light blue top.

  • 86. Also mom  |  August 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Am I reading posts too fast – or is there really someone who is excluding perfectly good schools because they have a uniform? Who has that luxury?? Wow. Good luck and good luck trying to wind your child through this world.

  • 87. CLB  |  August 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I disliked school uniforms as kid. I’m sympathetic to the argument that uniforms prevent income-based teasing (you don’t have xxx brand), and an Alcott parent told me she loved the uniforms because it avoided arguments over what to wear each day.

    Finding fairly priced uniforms can be difficult. It’s one thing if a school uses Old Navy; quite another if the vendor charges $50 for one day’s uniform. A stained white shirt or khakis will soon indicate which kids comes from a family that can afford five uniforms and which can afford only one.

  • 88. Mom  |  August 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Yep – someone who will move so that her kids (who are dressed almost entirely in second-hand store finds and hand-me-downs) will have a non-uniform environment in a diverse school that has decent academic performance, even if it means going out of the city. Gasp! Some people who don’t spend lots of money on clothes don’t like a focus on conformity in their schools.

  • 89. Also mom  |  August 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I hear the sighs of relief from people glad that there will be at least one less family in competition for great city schools. With uniforms. I’m sure those fleeing uniforms will find absolutely no conformity issues in the suburbs.

  • 90. CPSappalled  |  August 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    By my unofficial drive-by estimate, it seems that most neighborhood schools on the west and north sides of the city require uniforms. My neighborhood school, Bateman, requires white shirts and dark pants. I can’t believe that only 88 schools have uniforms–where did that statistic come from?

  • 91. LSMom  |  August 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I’m pretty sure it’s that there are only 88 schools that don’t require uniforms (http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8682323)

  • 92. RL Julia  |  August 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Gotta say, I am quite impressed(?) with the level of passion people bring to this topic. Can we talk about (my favorite CPS fall experience) lice next?

  • 93. LP school mom  |  August 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Does anyone else think that the creativity of a child can be shown by what he/she does within the uniform policy? Give a kid a piece of plain white paper and the creative kid will origami that sucker into a swan.

  • 94. donna  |  August 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    To the poster who will leave the city to avoid uniforms: where will you go?

  • 95. anonymouse teacher  |  August 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Oh RLJulia, LICE!!!!! I could care less about uniforms, but lice is a HUGE issue for me. My kids’ former CPS magnet had constant problems with lice and my own children had it 3 times in 2 years. I know it causes no real damage, but talk about driving a mom crazy! I pretty much teach with my hair up every single day because I am so afraid of getting lice. What a pain to get rid of and expensive too. My husband and I have talked and if I decide to leave the profession, I may open my own delousing store. There is major money to be made in that field.

  • 96. mom  |  August 18, 2012 at 3:47 am

    The Huff post or the NY Times…an article came out when an alderman posed a resolution to require the 88 schools that don’t have a uniform policy to ban saggy pants. I don’t know which of the remaining 88 have a “saggy pants problem” since most of the schools on the list have been magnets and selective enrollment, but apparently they’re somewhere.

  • 97. TeachinChi  |  August 18, 2012 at 6:41 am

    If you are a parent sending a child to a uniform school and you vocally do not support it or abide by it, consider the message you are sending to your child about school rules. Rules are not choices. You do have a choice about which school you attend. However, intentionally disregarding uniforms (a school rule) is teaching your child the rules do not matter. This makes it exceedingly difficult on teachers who the have to try to enforce things not supported by the family of the student. Imagine how this scenario can escalate from a simple uniform issue to other behaviors. If you are going to attend a school with a uniform support the school and be accountable.

  • 98. CarolA  |  August 18, 2012 at 8:42 am

    @97 You are so right. At my school, I can hear the parents talking in the morning right outside my window and the disrespect that is shown is terrible. It gives the wrong message to the children. I’ve always said that parents don’t have to agree with us, but they need to bring their concerns to US and not discuss it outside with other parents in front of the children. And I teach 1st grade! By the time these same children get to 8th grade, It’s no wonder they talk back to the teachers and disrespect rules. They’ve had years of training.

  • 99. City Mom  |  August 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    @98 & 97 How interesting. . . My husband and I have spoken both in front of and to our children (now 13 and 8) about problems with the curriculum they are being taught as well as choices their teachers and administrators have sometimes made. (I wish we could tell you that going to teachers or administrators with these problems have been helpful but we haven’t found often found that to be the case.) We have also, however, taught our kids to respect their teachers and administrators when we disagree. But talking with our kids about the problems we see is part of the process of teaching our kids to think critically. I find it ironic that educators espouse thinking criticially unless we’re thinking critically about them. Perhaps outside the classroom window is not the best place but I do want my kids to question poor rules and practices (rather than follow them blindly) and I’ll continue to speak to other parents about the problems we face.

  • 100. cpsobsessed  |  August 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I’m with you City Mom. I feel like I was raised very much to be a total “rule follower” and I’d like my son to question authority a little more. But doing so respectfully. If a uniform code exists, we follow it. But I wouldn’t hesitate to express my frustration with it (if I felt it.). I know cps has a no-hat or hood policy due to gang concerns and I’ve expressed to my son why the rule is there, why I think it’s silly at our school, but we still stick with respecting the rule.

    I think a lot of it’s in the delivery. There are certainly parents who act arrogant and entitled which makes me bristle. I know my SIL who teaches in Naperville finds this to be the bane of her existence. I can’t even imagine some of the other suburbs. I think there is a way to teach and handle disagreement with school rules while still fostering a strong respect for teachers and admin.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 101. CarolA  |  August 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

    City Mom: I can tell by the tone of your letter that you are a respectful person. In the context that you are referring to, I agree that discussing it with your children and other parents is just fine. It’s all in the tone of the discussion. Critical thinking is something we encourage and want in education and life itself. As mentioned in my comment, I don’t have a problem with parents/students disagreeing with me. I even talk to my students about it. I tell them that I’m not always right and if they see things a different way than I do, we should discuss it. I have no problem admitting if I’ve done something that would be best doing another way. No one is perfect. It’s the tone and the assuming that gets me. Many times parents are fuming about something when in fact, they don’t have the whole picture. Why not have a meeting with the teacher/administration first before starting fires amongst the other parents? Last year was sickening for me with a couple of loud parents who made the morning line-up unpleasant for many.

  • 102. TeachinChi  |  August 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Thinking critically and questioning are reasonable expectations. Teachers don’t make the rules about uniforms or dress code, so being critical of it is definitely not being critical of us. However, how you choose to question the rule is key. If you question through the actual authorities (and can live with not getting your way) that is productive. Complaining in front of your children or intentionally NOT sending them in uniform is a very slippery parenting slope. Again, I am a teacher and a parent of elementary aged children. I am all about questioning rules and sacred cows, but the way it is done and presented to children can make a world of difference in their behavior in the long run. The way parents talk about and treat teachers is often how children are taught to talk about and treat teachers.

  • 103. anonymouse teacher  |  August 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    CPSO, your sister in law’s experience in Naperville is definitely not unique to that area.

  • 104. CarolA  |  August 20, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Maybe if everyone posting here could dig up some decent $$$ we could form a small school of our own. No connections to anyone. We survive on our own ideas and create a school that has a waiting list so long that people will put their child’s name on it when they were pregnant! Wouldn’t that be great! How fun. Maybe it’s not a dream. Anyone know of a small vacant building in a decent area for rent? LOL

  • 105. HS Mom  |  August 20, 2012 at 10:23 am

    @100 CPSO – I agree with questioning the rules and productive discussion with kids, also agree with respecting the schools authority/policies. Interesting though how different people interpret the rules. I was raised that boys/men never wore their hats indoors. My father was always put out with guys wearing caps in restaurants etc. When I saw the “no hats” policy, I thought “finally some traditional values being taught”. I know much of the dress code is gang oriented and necessary in that respect. Nothing wrong with some good old fashioned guidelines in preparing kids for the future.

  • 106. Mom  |  August 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    @ 104. It actually would not be terribly difficult to start a new school within CPS if you could find the funds and the space (a challenge on the north side, although CPS has the rights to at least one great, large site that it must use for a new non-charter school in the next five years or it will revert to the state). We had meetings with the central office and city leaders regarding new school options and found them pretty receptive to our ideas, so maybe they would be receptive to your organizing efforts too? It was ironic — after these meetings, I actually felt a bit more sympathetic (maybe that’s not the right word) to district leaders and city officials about the challenges they face and their willingness/eagerness (??) to partner with outside groups that are trying to organize for better, higher-expectations schools, but also more realistic that CPS probably won’t be in our future past pre-k unless we’re very lucky in the lottery. Many parents don’t have that option, however, and it’s a great opportunity to get them to speak up about what they’d like to see in their schools. Good luck!

  • 107. Mayfair Dad  |  August 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    @ 92: I leave this thread for a few days and come back to head lice. Ewwwww.

  • 108. CarolA  |  August 21, 2012 at 6:49 am

    @104: I’m not familiar with the space you are referring to, but I can relate to your mention of their lack of willingness/eagerness to partner with outside groups. I just don’t understand why they always think their way is the best way. Obviously, it’s not. Why not try something a little off the beaten path and pave our own way? I’d actually be up for participating in any sort of meetings regarding that if you hear about some. Please post. I think it could be a fantastic school with all the input from this site. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with each other, we respect each others opinion, but most of all respect that fact that there are various views on topics. That’s what makes change work…… people who are willing to embrace a different point of view. I first found this site this summer and have learned so much from all of you. Fun!

  • 109. Ltwain  |  August 21, 2012 at 8:48 am

    @104: This sounds interesting. What would be the focus or philosophy of the school? Chicago Tech Academy and Chi Arts are two contract high schools who use technology and the arts to engage students, respectively. Or would the school use the latest research as the basis? (I’ve been reading Dan Willingham’s book, “Why Don’t Students Like School”, that discusses the cognitive science in learning. Anyone else read it?)
    Chicago Tech and ChiArts seem to get a lot of support from foundations and corporations, who like knowing what they are supporting. If the school is desired to be more autonomous without these outside encumbrances, it would still be good to hear how the school would operate. Would be fun to discuss how to put together a nice school.

  • 110. Motherof3  |  August 21, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I personally, as a mom, like having uniforms. My three kids all attended a neighborhood school where they had to wear the navy blue pants/white polo outfit every day and my younger one still does. Honestly, having a uniform saves us money because we don’t really have to go back to school clothes shopping which is great. I have talked to my older daughter (an eighth grader who used to be concerned about how her clothes look, etc) she says its easier just knowing what to wear in the morning and with a uniform nobodys talking about who wore this and this. Now my daughter at an AC has to jeans with a white polo or school issued polo with school name hoodie. Which I think is just the dumbest uniform, why not then just let them wear whatever they want. So, personally, I’d rather have a full on uniform (like the one at my neighborhood school) or no uniform at all.

  • 111. RL Julia  |  August 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Motherof3 – tell your daughter to adhere to the uniform – those folks at Taft AC love their uniform code. My son once got sent to detention of wearing his coat inside (he was cold). On the other hand, many of the teachers don’t care so you really only have to be in uniform in the hallways.

  • 112. Mom  |  August 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    @ 108. Actually, I meant that I found the central office and city leaders to be somewhat surprisingly willing and eager to work with groups like ours. (At that point they were tired of getting backlash from closing low-performing schools, so I am sure it was a bit refreshing to hear from parents who wanted more.) They do not want to continue to bleed families to Oak Park, Evanston, and Skokie when some of those families could be excellent catalysts for school improvement if they were to choose CPS. At first they steered us toward charters and contracts, which we weren’t really into, but they also seemed very receptive to the non-charter option being proposed in Cullerton’s ward as well. I think that if we had really pressed, we might have been able to get the TIF/govt. funds to make it happen, even in this tight budget environment. In any case, good luck with your mission. While I no longer think CPS will have something that will fit what I’ve been looking for, the city has a lot of parents who would like to work together for more. People like you can make it happen!

  • 113. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  August 22, 2012 at 8:02 am

    My child is entering a school not with a uniform but with a firm, but not overly strict, dress code. I am completely fine with that. I am for anything that is teaching the kids that school is about getting down to business. In my mind it is similar to getting dressed for work versus getting dressed for weekend activities. I am all for taking the focus off of what everyone is wearing, especially with girls where a lot of bullying activity takes place in the form of teasing about fashion and appearance. The focus on labels and fashion is WAY out of hand and frankly quite ridiculous. Yes, the focus may shift to things like shoes, bags etc… but I would guess that with uniforms it is nowhere near as bad as if the kids were putting together a full outfit themselves every day, some wearing all top labels and others all hand me downs. My niece attends what would be considered a ‘good’ suburban elementary school. There are no uniforms or dress code (beyond the most basic obvious things like no tees with swear words, alcohol logos etc…) She is now entering 4th grade but when she was in kindergarten she would get so wound up in the morning over what to wear and he stomach would be in such knots about what the other girls would think about her outfit that she would get sick to her stomach and not eat breakfast. She would be a nervous wreck at school, worried about getting teased, and sometimes not even eat her lunch, arriving home very hungry and in a terrible state. Although she has settled down a bit about it all she still gets very concerned about what the other kids will think and frets a lot about her appearance. I bet her mom would have LOVED to have had a uniform for her to wear. She could have bought one or two pair of shoes that her daughter liked, a cute backpack and maybe some hair accessories but then the rest of the outfit is the same every day. No arguments, no major nerves. Seems to me that she is likely not the only child who has gone through something like this.

  • 114. IB mom  |  August 22, 2012 at 10:41 am

    My daughter is entering a hs with a uniform policy, after having attended a grammar school without one (both CPS). She isn’t crazy about the uniform and sees it as something that makes her school sit on a lower rung than the SEHSs that do not have a uniform. However, as someone noted, you can still look like a prep/athlete/slob/gangbanger-ish even with a uniform, so there is room for individuality (!) Frankly, though, this topic is low on our list of concerns. She is eager to start school and meet new friends (and a bit scared too), nervous about the IB program she’ll be slogging through, excited to have made the varsity volleyball team. These are the big issues for her. I feel neither here nor there about the uniform — would probably prefer not to have one but understand that it can prevent distractions in and out of the classroom. Her younger brother will still be able to dress as he wants to — that is, whatever target/old navy outfit I leave out for him in the morning!

  • 115. teddy  |  August 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

    my school has made a dress code tat wecanwear any soild color colliered polo wit black,navy,or kaki pants,skirts,shorts,or capris. we can wear any shoes with te rule of heshoe laces ave to match the color of the shoe. so overall not a bad dresscode, but for us (comming from a 12 year old) we older students are used to getting to wear what we want before they decided that they now want the new dress code. to me i coould care less. just change when you get hme. it’s not that big of a deal.

  • 116. teddy  |  August 22, 2012 at 10:52 am

    sorry for all the grammer mistakes.

  • 117. Family Friend  |  August 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Talking about starting your own school: In my opinion, the best way to go is a charter or contract school. Both are open to individuality in programming. ChiArts wants to remain a contract school because they need to be able to audition students rather than hold a lottery. I know ChiTech, another contract school, does hold a lottery. I used to know the pros and cons of charter vs. contract — as I recall, in general, there was more flexibility for charters. I don’t know the current financial situation at contract schools, but I don’t think it’s much different than at charters – way underfunded compared to regular CPS schools.

    Nevertheless, I know of a number of charters, at both elementary and high school levels, that are truly unique, as well as a number of “back to basics” charter schools. For example: Namaste (K-8): focused on health and wellness, high level of parent engagement. Terrific dual language program, high academic performance. Chicago Quest (6-8, eventually 6-12): game-based education. Kids create their own games, including board games and electronic games, active games, etc. to learn and retain content. Second year of operation; results not in. Passages (PK-8): founded to serve the needs of immigrant and refugee children. Best ELL program I have ever seen. Good academic results, especially considering the proportion of kids who are learning English. Urban Prep (9-12): focused on the educational needs of African American boys. Academy for Global Citizenship (K-5, eventually K-8): Global focus (working on Primary IB status, will add secondary IB status), as well as ecology (green energy etc.), and healthy living (garden with vegetables served in the lunch room, chickens and eggs). Great academic results. Kwame Nkrumah (K-6; eventually K-8 I think): Afro-centric school with heavy academic focus. Alain Locke (PK-8): Holistic approach, Afro-awareness without overtly Afro-centric curriculum. Happiest place on the west side. Top charter school in the state; percentage of students meeting/exceeding standards (about 90%) is better than Evanston schools; percentage of students exceeding standards (about 25%) is way better than Evanston and most everywhere else. Polaris (K-7, next year K-8): expeditionary, project-based, learning. Critical thinking from day 1. Impressive students. Legal Prep (brand new, eventually 9-12): focus on a college prep education through reference to legal principles – logic, critical thinking. Chicago Talent Development High School (9-12): used Johns Hopkins’ Talent Development Program, which focuses on each student. Founded by the Service Employees International Union and the Illinois Education Association. The union contract “doesn’t guarantee a job, it guarantees a voice.” UNO Soccer School *k-8): The name says it all. Kids want to come to school for soccer, feed them academics while they are there.

    The point of all this is to say, what kind of school do you want? Think it through, design it, and go for it. The Illinois Network of Charter Schools provides great support on their website and otherwise.

  • 118. LSMom  |  August 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for that list of charter schools, Polaris sounds intriguing and I’d never heard of it. There’s an interesting-sounding charter Montessori opening up in Englewood this fall. If there’s any effort to get a charter school started anywhere on the north/northwest side with a progressive, developmentally appropriate curriculum that minimizes high-stakes testing I’d love to be involved!

  • 119. CarolA  |  August 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Wow! Thanks for all that info. I had no idea!

  • 120. SLmom  |  August 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    WOW, uniforms=gangs + low income, that seems to be a recurring theme. Wonder what the parents of kids at the British School, Latin and Francis Parker would say to that?????

  • 121. ThinkAgain  |  August 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    120 – they would be totaly amused because they can afford to be

  • 122. Hawaiian girl  |  August 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I would like to chime in. My son has sensory integration disorder and he is 9 and half years old. Although he is an honor student with high test scores in reading and math (in the low 90’s), he cannot tie his shoe, button his pants nor wear certain fabrics and has problems with collars. On top of it, he has asthma and eczema. Due to his his eczema, he cannot wear certain fabrics and in the winter, we often put soft cotton thermal shirts so his chest is not exposed- (most of the nicer shirts have logos). A logo shirt is not allowed in school.
    His school’s LSC adopted a uniform policy because in their words, “the neighborhood was changing.” They further explained that only 10% of the school was dressed inappropriately. To me, it doesn’t make sense to disrupt 90% of the school because of a few. In addition, now children like mine are put in an awkward position to explain why they are not in uniform (a privacy violation covered by HIPPA).
    Before uniforms, my son was fine. Now he has anxiety attacks because he is mortify that he has to explain why he is not in uniform because of his condition. This was something that he wanted to keep private and now we have to explain it to the school, his teachers and have it on his 504 plan.
    If you want your child in a uniform, you go ahead and buy your kid one. For the rest of us, I SCREAM -THIS IS OUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT.

  • 123. mollyb.  |  October 14, 2012 at 12:54 am

    CPS Obsessed community, I applaud you for the respectful manner in which you communicate with one another in this thread! I am delighted to find a forum that encourages users to debate this topic so eloquently. The controversy over CPS’s mandatory school uniform policy is fascinating. That being said, I have a favor to ask of all of you…

    I am currently in my first year of graduate school, working towards earning my M.Ed (Elementary Education). I have chosen to explore the effects of mandatory school uniforms on child development, and I am desperately trying to find parents of CPS elementary students and CPS teachers to assist in my research by (anonymously) completing a short questionnaire. My survey consists of ten multiple choice questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.

    I would greatly appreciate your assistance in my research. If you are willing to participate, please respond to this comment or email me at mollyb.teach@gmail.com. I can provide the questionnaire via email (either in an attached Word document or copied into the body of the email- whichever you feel most comfortable with), standard mail, g-chat, or telephone. I fully respect your privacy and I promise to never share your personal information with anyone, ever.

    The more survey participants, the better, so please feel free to extend this invitation to anyone you think may be willing to contribute to my research!

    Thank you all so much for your time and consideration. I wish you and your children all the best for the 2012-2013 school year!

  • 124. db  |  December 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Just curious if Alcott ever got rid of the uniforms, anyone have an update?

  • 125. cpsobsessed  |  December 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Friend of mine with a kindergartener at Alcott reports they still have the uniform code (navy bottoms, white or light blue tops).

  • 126. alcott mom again  |  December 21, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Yes, Alcott wears uniforms. The only change for this year is the clothing that the friends of Alcott sells can also be worn any day of the week. But there is a committee that is working to get rid of them.

  • 127. school uniform manufacture  |  January 3, 2013 at 6:56 am

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  • 128. preKMom  |  January 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I can’t stand the uniforms. They look horrible by the second month of school. Parents by five sets and expect kids to wear that for the entire school year. By mid year these kids

  • 129. Kaitlyn  |  February 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Uniforms restrict the freedom of expression of teens. They are also very expensive! Teens already have a hard time understanding who they are, uniforms does NOT help. They are also hard to get for the parents, and too much of a hassle.

  • 130. WesLooWorkingMom  |  February 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Let’s also remember one of the postive reasons for school uniforms: children are not obsessed with wearing the latest and greatest clothing, shoes and accessories, especially if their parents can’t afford it. Depending on the school uniform provider, uniforms are no more costly for parents than regular clothes.

    Express yourself in the evenings and on weekends.

  • 131. SoxSideIrish4  |  February 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    #130~WLWM~I don’t like uniforms~there is def restriction of expression of freedom…they are unnecessary.

  • 132. reflection of one self  |  February 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Parker does not have a uniform code. Parker is a progressive school always has been. Latin does not have uniforms either. British school is the British school. I love the uniforms at the British school. The kids look so cute but it is a far cry from the CPS uniform. .
    The CPS school uniform is joke. The company French Toast that sells to lower income cps students is making a killing selling cheap pilled polyester crap, if you lit a match to it, it would melt.. For me and my family uniforms such as CPS’ blue bottoms and white tops are depressing. You are a kid only once, have fun with your clothes, be comfortable. Expressing yourself should not have time restrictions such as only evening or weekends! It’s like saying ok Suzie take of your oppressive uniform and put on your expressive clothes,its the weekend! In this day and age clothes are part of your personality. Why do you think artists, writers, politicians, have their own style because its a reflection of ones self.

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  • 134. NewSupporterOfUniforms  |  August 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I used to think uniforms were ridiculous because who wants to buy a second set of clothes. I have changed my thinking this year upon realizing that uniforms are just easier. As far as the whole fashion thing, I have never been a keep up with the joneses type of person and am completely ignorant to labels and brands. I also encourage my children to always look nice but do so in whatever you wear. You don’t have to spend tons of money or buy a certain label to look nice. I am for uniforms now because I realize that they go along with what my teachings have always been for my children and that is to develop their minds rather than their sense of fashion. My dislike of uniforms in the past was strictly a cost issue not a fashion one.

  • 135. jtxidrandomno122x  |  January 6, 2016 at 2:06 am

    nice info mas , Afric

  • 136. kim  |  January 8, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I really don’t think girls should have to wear a tie. Most of the time, the girls don’t tie their ties very well. You’ll see ties on crooked, collars that are twisted up, ties that are loose or ties that are poorly knotted.

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