Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times wrote the well-researched article “Huntsville city schools consider school uniforms, survey parents through robocalls”:
McCaulley, who represents north Huntsville on the school board, raised the issue in March, suggesting uniforms improve student achievement… Anecdotal reports out of places such as California and Missouri have found success in reducing discipline problems.
Hmm… I wonder what people who’ve performed actual research on school uniforms have to say:
David Brunsma spent eight years studying the issue and wrote the book on uniforms, “A Symbolic Crusade.” He found little improvement in achievement or discipline. He wrote in American Teacher in 2005: “The results, although surprising to many, simply cannot be ignored. Uniforms do not make our schools better.”
Challen also gets responses from candidates for the school board:
[David] Blair… said he now leans toward school-by-school decisions instead of a systemwide policy on uniforms. “I think you’ve got to wait and see what the survey says”…
His runoff opponent, Emily Elam, said the same. “I feel like the process they are going through right now is the right way to go about making a decision on school uniforms.”
Runoff rivals in south Huntsville’s District 3 also said they’d wait to see the results of the survey. “The parents have got to want it,” said retired principal Walker McGinnis, suggesting he’d support school-by-school decisions over a systemwide policy.
His opponent, board member Jennie Robinson, doesn’t share McCaulley’s interest in the issue. “My focus right now is on academics and finances,” Robinson said Thursday. “Uniforms are kind of down on my priority list.”
One of the problems with the polling is that the Schools didn’t allow for discussion before the poll was taken. People who read The Times, Flashpoint, or SoldiersPerspective may have seen Brunsma’s conclusion that “uniforms do not make our schools better” – but The Times article was written after the fact. I don’t think that the results of the poll will be valid, given the lack of public discussion beforehand – and candidates who rely on this flawed process (Blair, Elam, and McGinnis) may arrive at a flawed decision. Incumbent school board member Jennie Robinson is the only candidate with the right response to this issue.
This article is an example of what I like about Challen Stephen’s reportage. He does the extra research to add information and value to his stories. He gets the quotes from the right people. Somebody should honor him with an award like Best Education Reporting.
CJ Grisham cited Dr. Brunsma’s research in the post “Huntsville City Schools Uniform Proposal”:
…uniforms FAILED, in our empirical analyses, to increase academic preparedness, pro-school attitudes, or a peer structure that supported academics. Finally, to our surprise, we found a small, weak, yet statistically significant negative effect of uniform policies on” violence.
Get that? Uniforms do not help and schools that have uniforms are more violent.
I urge the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education (and candidates) to put a stop to this farce. Do your jobs based on facts.