Friday, August 29, 2008

Do school uniforms make better students?

School uniforms continue to strut their way down the hallways of America's public schools.

Nearly 14 percent of public schools required uniforms in 2005–06, according to the latest figures from the National Center for Education Statistics. That's up from about 12 percent in 1999–2000 and a paltry 3 percent in 1996–97, when President Clinton championed uniforms as a way to keep schools orderly and disciplined.

The Midwest system has seen positive results in just one year, school leaders say.

Expulsion rates have gone down, though that could be due to a number of factors, not just uniforms, says Mary Louise Bewley, community relations director. Mostly, the changes have been in perception.

"There's almost less fear of our children, because they don't look like hoods," Bewley says. Leaders in Georgia's Clayton County -- another area where about three-quarters of kids are from economically disadvantaged homes -- are going for a similar makeover. This fall for the first time, students in kindergarten to sixth grade districtwide will be required to wear uniforms. Within four years, every student will be in uniform, Assistant Superintendent Cethus Jackson says.

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