Goshen News, Goshen, IN

April 26, 2014

OUR VIEW: Goshen school uniform policy seems like a good fit

Goshen News

---- — A committee has been working on a standardized dress code policy for Goshen’s West Goshen Elementary School. Its recommendations were presented at the April 14 school board meeting, and the board had a positive take on the plan. So does The Goshen News.

Solid-color shirts with collars and two to four buttons are proposed for West Goshen pupils. The shirts can be a polo or Oxford style with short or long sleeves, and girls would be able to wear a blouse as long as it’s a solid color. The change is being introduced in a two-year span: shirts are the focus this coming school year, pants the following 2015-16 session.

“We want to promote a professional atmosphere in the school, and promote a sense of community within our schools with the dress code,” West Goshen Principal Alan Metcalfe said in outlining a laudable goal.

A UNIFORM DRESS CODE doesn’t seem like a controversial issue to this newspaper. An Internet search, however, yields views pro and con on this nationwide topic of interest. The claims of both proponents and opponents seem a bit overheated.

At the local level, the News doubts that many Goshen families and students spend fretful mornings deciding what youngsters should wear to school. In a world full of challenges, “getting dressed” seems low on the list of worries.

We also take issue with arguments about student free speech and loss of individuality. Schools are public institutions, like it or not, and school officials worth their pay grade would be quick to quash student dress that was inflammatory or distracting.

The cost of purchasing standardized school clothing has been raised as another concern. However, parents or caregivers would be buying school clothes with or without a set standard.

THERE ARE BENEFITS to a uniform dress policy. Consider the children whose families are unable to afford top-dollar youth fashions. Those pupils, we think, shouldn’t have to deal with the potential stigma of having less. Less attention to social status and more to school work is a positive.

On a broader and more troubling note, The News sees dress codes as a hindrance to gang identification and recruitment. We wish this was a baseless concern at the elementary school level. It isn’t.

The dress code policy proposed for West Goshen Elementary School is a pilot program of sorts in our school community. The change can be amended or abandoned if problems arise or the policy proves too difficult to enforce.

At this point, though, we think it’s worth a try.