Monday, July 18, 2011

More Hocus-Pocus With Uniforms: solving Education’s problems the easy way

Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business. -- Tom Robbins
Most people believe in some kind of magic, no matter how strenuously they protest that they are faithful adherents of one set of religious doctrines or another. Millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc believe in luck. Check out the lotteries and casinos around the world. (Perhaps this is why anti-governmental rhetoric is so popular among some politicians and their camp-followers in this country, particularly in “the Bible Belt.”)

And just listen to people get angry and swear, invoking the name of one deity or another to confront an annoying or frightening situation, as though Jesus Christ or Allah would make an appearance in order to kiss a stubbed toe or repay a lost bet.

Their children don’t consider themselves to be Muggles, either. Kids don’t want school uniforms because they don’t want “anyone” telling them what to wear: it takes away -- as if by magic -- their freedom. What freedom is that? The freedom to avoid ostracism. The freedom to cave in to the advertising and peer pressures that set the uniform standards for kids of their age and social station. Fashion is a talisman against rejection.

Adults want uniforms because they’re magic. Kids can be unruly, disrespectful and obnoxious and many adults, particularly our “leaders,” don’t know how to handle it. So adults plump for school uniforms. In some school districts, Philadelphia’s, for example, school dress codes are minimal. There are no uniforms. So, when kids are unruly, the Philadelphia school board places its magic spell on adult employees. The Monday, July 18, 2001 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that school district policemen are being made to standardize their grooming, to make their uniforms more uniform.

Why? To make them more disciplined and effective. Hocus-pocus jiminy-okus! The kids won’t obey school police now, so their uniform uniforms will make for a stronger spell!

Should we be surprised? When it comes to public schools, magic formulae abound. For example:
a. Removing principals and teachers will bring the lowest 3% of the students in a school up to par, academically. (NCLB magic.) 
b. Cutting school budgets will help make schools more efficient. (Political magic) 
c. Increasing graduation standards for high schools will rectify the economic effects of corporate and governmental misfeasance. (More politician magic-think!)

Considering how well dress codes work, is there much hope that these broader spells will work?

 For references and to examine these issues further, see SCHOOL UNIFORMS: Does What Students Wear Really Make A Difference?

--- EGR

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