In an effort to stop on-campus violence, school officials are looking at various measures. Recently, President Clinton has voiced his support of a policy for public school uniforms. Although the state of Missouri does not have a policy requiring school uniforms, it hasn't stopped students and parents from expressing their opinions. KBIA's Brian Higgins has more from Jefferson City.
Schools in Missouri and across the country are paying more attention to student safety. For many city schools, measures to increase student safety are nothing new. Schools in St. Louis have gone as far as using metal detectors to find concealed weapons. Another measure, supported by President Clinton, is a policy for public school uniforms. In Missouri, this measure is nothing new. While no laws have ever been passed, as far back as 1993, the state legislation has discussed policies for school uniforms. However there are mixed feelings among the students and parents who would directly be affected by such a policy.
One St. Louis middle school student, Jacquiline Madison, says the clothes students wear often lead to problems.
Brand name clothes are not the only concern. On some campuses the concern is centered on the clothes favored by gangs; jackets and hats of sports teams. Another student from St. Louis, Leslie Gosejohn (go-shun), says that uniforms would be easier and safer.
Two students who offer a unique perspective are Sergey Medvetsky and Olga Sibirskaya (Si-burska). Sergey and Olga are foreign exchange students from Belaruse, a former republic of the Soviet Union. In Belaruse school uniforms are required but, while attending school in Missouri Sergey and Olga can wear what they want. Sergey says school uniforms are a good idea.
However Sergey's classmate, Olga Sibirskaya (Si-burska), does not like wearing a school uniform because uniforms take away her individuality.
Students such as Olga are concerned that uniforms will take away freedom of expression through dress. Sandy Davidson, a communications law professor at the University of Missouri, says there are already some restrictions on student dress.
While some students have concerns over their freedom of expression, some parents also have mixed feelings over a policy of school uniforms. Deanna Simpkins, the mother of an elementary school girl, sees both positives and negatives to the idea of school uniforms.
However, if a policy for school uniforms comes into conflict with a students' right to expression, students will be the likely losers. Communication law professor Sandy Davidson says that if it comes down to it, courts will rule for student safety over student's expression.
Davidson also says that some school districts may be allowed to have uniforms while others may not. She says that districts with a history of on-campus violence will have more flexibility in enforcing a policy for school uniforms. If student safety in Missouri becomes more of a concern, public school uniforms may become more than just an idea. Reporting from the Capitol, I'm Brian Higgins.