I hate school uniforms.
I thought about using this topic for a Forces of Nurture column, but didn’t want to piss off the school district the week before my kid starts first-grade.
I have two issues:
First, what’s the point of uniforms in elementary? It’s the middle-school set that embraces skank. Your average kindergartner isn’t showing up for class in miniature street-walking clothes. It’s the tweens who need some serious ho monitoring.
One argument I’ve heard is that forcing children to dress the same prevents the Target-attired bunch from feeling shamed by the boutique-clad group. (My kid falls into the Target group, btw. Chi-chi kiddie clothes are way out of our range.)
If that’s the case, then I suggest schools and PTAs not ask parents to donate Cheetah Girls concert tickets and the like to the Tween Basket that will be auctioned off at the fall festival. (Yes, that really happened. Do you have any idea how much a pair of freaking Cheetah Girl tickets would have cost?) Because the same parents who can’t afford boutique frou-frou clothing likely can’t afford to send a week’s worth of snacks for a class of 18 or a Hannah Montana doll for the Tween basket.
You can’t have it both ways, guys. You can’t try to make everyone feel financially equitable by requiring uniforms, only to turn around and ask for money or other donations. Or to ask people to buy namebrand for boxtops when they normally buy storebrand.
The kids whose parents contribute get prizes. The others stand by and watch the goodies being passed around. But hey, at least they’re all dressed the same.
My second — and biggest — issue with uniforms is the cost.
Basically, I’m forced into buying two different wardrobes for my child: one for school, and another for evenings and weekends. I don’t have the money to do that, especially this year.
Lastly, what are we achieving by forcing children to dress alike?
This belief that we are sparing feelings is the same one employed by those who hand out first-place ribbons to everyone, regardless of who won or lost. What does it teach kids, exactly? That they will never encounter failure? Never experience disappointment?
How much harder it must be to face either of those for the first time at, say, age 20.
Again, I’m one of the discount moms. And I have no problem telling my soon-to-be first-grader that we can’t afford something. Or that we’ll have to wait until payday before I can buy new clothes and shoes for her or her brother.
Speaking of payday, it’s Friday. Which means I’ll be spending this weekend spending my hard-earned money on cheaply made uniforms that fall apart after two months of wear.
Oh, the joys.