A few years ago, we started the process of adding school uniforms at El Dorado. It comes down to a parent vote, and they voted against uniforms. The conversation started again this week. Personally, I'm against it. Yes, I see some of the benefits. But overall, it just doesn't vibe with me. At the faculty meeting yesterday, the staff seems to be very much in favor of uniforms. Again, it's the parents who vote, not the staff or students. But I want to show the staff that there really are two sides to the debate, so I composed the following. I'm not done with it - I'm still planning to add more. But what are your thoughts? In general, I'm looking to see what else to add. But I also welcome the opposition.
1. The Constitution. Yes, it applies to middle school kids. These kids have the right to express themselves. For some of these kids, this is their method of expression. Should they be exploring other methods to express themselves? YES. But should we limit this form? NO.
2. Our current dress code already forbids items of clothing that are deemed offensive. If you are offended by any items of clothing, you should be taking action as described by the dress code procedures. If you feel these procedures aren’t working, perhaps THAT is the discussion we need to have.
3. Parents can opt out of the uniform. The same parents who will opt out of their child wearing a uniform are the same ones who already opt their child out of doing homework, wearing clothes that fit the dress code, and behaving in class. The law states that we cannot discriminate in any way towards those who wear uniforms and those who opt out. We cannot reward those who wear uniforms. We cannot punish those who do not.
4. If I were a student, I would see this as a punishment. Do we need to punish all of our kids? Let’s be honest. MOST of our kids are great kids. Why will we require all of those kids to wear a uniform as well as the rest?
5. Uniforms aren’t a magic pill. They aren’t going to solve all of your problems. If your classroom isn’t managed well, that’s probably the adult standing in front of the room, not the clothes on the kids’ backs. How about we enforce the rules we have now? How about we develop CONSEQUENCES for the kids who are behaving poorly?
6. How does this address academics? In the 10+ years I have been at El Dorado, we have never seriously discussed academics. Yes, we mention test scores and that we need to improve them. Yes, we have put some programs in place to lift the bottom, such as interventions and Language! But do uniforms address academics? I don’t believe that uniforms at school will increase the brain matter of students. I don’t believe it will increase homework time at home. I don’t believe it will increase study habits.
7. A discussion of uniforms is a distraction. A discussion of uniforms isn’t just a quick talk then final decision by leadership or administration. It’s a commitment to developing a whole new plan and direction for school behavior. It’s a long conversation with parents. Couldn’t we better use that time talking about how to be a California Distinguished School? Developing a community? Talking about how parents can be more involved in their children’s education?
8. It’s a lazy solution. Enforcement of current dress code is difficult. Developing and following through with consequences is difficult. However, they develop our students in positive ways. Uniforms hide problems, both with the students and with the school.
9. Our community doesn’t have uniforms. It isn’t the norm in this area – we aren’t used to it. If I were to walk on to a public school campus where the kids have uniforms, I would wonder what was wrong with the school, and possibly wouldn’t want to be a part of that community. I would know that freedom of expression is stifled and frowned upon on at least one level.
10. Uniforms lower expectations. We are telling kids that they can’t be trusted to make decisions. They can’t express themselves properly. It’s telling kids that they are so dumb that we, almost literally, have to dress them in the morning! Why aren’t we RAISING our expectations?
11. What kinds of schools wear uniforms? Private schools and school that are in trouble. Clearly, we aren’t a private school. Do we really have such a low opinion of our school? The move to uniforms is a HUGE step, and one that should be taken when the adults are losing their school. Have we lost? And why do we keep copying the lower level of schools? This is just another example of El Dorado turning to lower performing schools. How about we start emulating the schools that are doing BETTER than us? Clearly they aren’t doing better because of uniforms. And there’s more to this discussion. Are the school that are higher doing better because of parent income? I can’t believe that. And since we continue to teach and have high expectations for all kids, you don’t believe it either. Is it parent involvement? Maybe so. But school uniforms won’t make parents more involved. So how about we try to find ways to get them so? Is it higher expectations for their students at those schools? Maybe so. But school uniforms, as I mentioned earlier, lowers expectations. How about some rewards for positive academic performance? How about consequences for poor behavior and especially poor academic performance?
12. People are different. Why is that such a bad thing? I don’t want to sound like a hippie or anything here, but how about we embrace what’s different about each other?
13. Our PE department has uniforms. Our students are already in uniforms for one period per day. So how’s that working? I know we have a good PE program, but it’s the teachers and curriculum, not the PE uniforms.
14. It was mentioned at the faculty meeting that the community would know which kids are El Dorado kids. Wait – do we necessarily want that? Is that the billboard we want out in public? Yes, they will also see the good kids. But which will they remember? The kids in the El Dorado uniforms loitering, running across the street, and whatever else.
15. I do want to see the research surrounding uniforms. I don’t want to hear people repeating what they have heard. In addition, I want credible sources. Since 73% of all statistics are made up, I want to know where the research comes from.
It's still a work in progress. If you see anything, including typos that you would change, feel free to comment. Your challenges can also help me to revise my own argument, so I welcome them.
This could have been another blog post from me, so I might as well copy/paste this here. It was in this post about Prop8, in which a local blogger posted the names of those who donated Yes on 8. And other comments were posted talking about what a horrible person the blogger was for having a bias. Oh no! So here's my response to their comments:
"Looks like this is a blog, not a news source. Even so, news sources can have biases as well. Should they? It depends. News or editorial? The First Amendment's intention was to protect news sources when they had opinions.
Yes, it's a free country. Just like those people were free to donate money. And just like Soccer Mom is free to post these names. And the original source is free to print them, as well. And you are free to comment on this blog. And all people are free to marry the person they... oh wait a minute.
These people gave away some money so that a proposition that they supported would pass. Under the law, those donations are public, and they knew that going in. Clearly, they gained a lot from prop 8 being passed. Now if someone can actually tell me what they actually did gain, that's the real trick.
So yeah. Those of you who want the No donations posted, get on your blog and post them. The thing is, those people have nothing to hide. They donated money to support rights. The yes people donated money to take rights away. Congratulations to them on their victory. They took rights away from people. Great job."
Been almost a week since I stood in line to vote for like three minutes.
One thing I like about where I live is that I never have to wait in line to vote. I see these lines that people need to stand in for hours, yet I know that my polling place is usually pretty empty. This year was the longest I had to wait. But I waited after I received my ballot for a little place to actually mark the ballot. That was it. I guess if I lived anywhere else I would vote absentee. But how do you get the little sticker?
I think the decision that will change me the most is the school board outcome. As of December, the board majority will begin to hold the Superintendant accountable for his actions. I will be surprised if he doesn't resign by the end of the school year. However, word of that win brough worse news from the state budget, so I don't expect to receive any time of change in salary or health care. Things are going to get worse before they get better.
For president, I would just like to say to my students a few years ago - "I told you." We were looking at newspaper for some reason, and there was a picture of Obama doing something. I told them that he was going to be the next president. I remember it because I told them that he was black, but in the black and white photo he actually looked quite pale. So yeah, I'm a prophet. And no, I didn't say that about every person I saw in the newspaper.
I'm going to try to hold onto this Hope thing as long as I can. Can Obama actually change things? I don't have a great deal of confidence in an all democratic majority, and I choose to remain skeptical. But I'm willing to see what's he's got. If nothing else, he will likely get to choose at least one Supreme Court Justice who will legislate from the bench be more liberal ("Legislate from the bench" - what a fucking retarded phrase).
So what about Prop 8? So here's how the story will go. The lawsuits have already started up again. No surprise. They will continue on up to the Supreme Court in a few years. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether a ban on gay marriage in Consitutional or not. Looking at the version of the Constitution I know, it will prove not to be Constitutional. That's why George W. wanted an Amendment to ban gay marriage, because he knew that any law would be so.
How do I KNOW it will happen this way? Because I know my freakin' history. The tyranny of the majority has spoken, and now someone else has to get it right.
But with all that, I think this picture sums it up better than anything else.
Such a relief that they announced the presidency right at 8:00. Now the rest of the votes... Contra Costa County election results are taking waaaaay too long to update. At 8:42, they announced the absentee votes. That was almost an hour ago. I'm going to nominate an invention for the best invention of the past four years: Browser tabs. Sure, it's not the winner, but it certainly should be nominated. I've been back and forth between a few different tabs waiting for more results to come in for a while now. Driving me a bit insane. Come on, county. I'm getting tired of seeing 8:42:30. Let's update this stuff so that I can go to bed.
Who did I vote for? It wasn't a third party. I vote for winners.
1. I went to hold a sign on the corner of Treat and Oak Grove this evening. Actually, I leaned it against myself, as I'm too lazy to hold it up for any length of time. We had lots of honkers driving by. Later in the evening, the Yes on 8 people moved in closer. For awhile, it was actually a cool sight seeing Yes and No signs all mixed together on one corner. It was a great image for the First Amendment. In other countries, and perhaps in other states, that would have broken out into a fight or worse. I was hoping that they might join hands and start singing "Yes and No together..." But they didn't.
One guy did come out of his nearby apartment to see what was going on, so I talked to him about a few issues, not just Prop 8. He seemed to barely be aware that there was an election tomorrow. It wasn't actually that bad, but he said that he hadn't taken the time to read about any Props at all. I did send him to talk to the Yes on 8 people, though, too. At the time I did it out of fairness. But after the part I will talk about next, I'm sure that anyone with a brain will be less likely to vote Yes after talking to a supporter.
So the most surreal part of the night was when we were heading back to the car. These Yessers starting telling us that we were on the wrong side. Then one guy started rapping. I can't explain it beyond that, because there's no way I can do that moment justice. Perhaps Lance can explain it further. Let me just say that the moment showed that there really is no argument for Prop 8. None. They were holding the Prop 8 = Free Speech signs, but couldn't explain it.
2. So why was I, a straight guy, out holding a sign for No on 8? In my mind it's because I'm about rights. I have lots of themes in my writing. When it comes to fiction, I'm usually about the character. When it comes to politics, I'm usually about the Constitution and individual rights. That's one of the things that made blog-a-day month so difficult. I don't want to keep repeating the same themes.
But you know? There's a better, more personal, greedy reason why. You might have read this before: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Martin_Niem%C3%B6ller If you don't want to click it, it's the short quote that talks about "When they came for..., I remained silent." Click and read if you don't know it.
So what am I worried about? Well, nothing really. But this evening, this image started to circulate the internet.
Yeah. That mentality is actually somewhere out there. (Where specifically? A quick internet search shows Soldatna to be in Alaska. That's some crazy, misinformed, ignorant shit. And people believe that.
Standing in the rain, Do I think that it mattered? Relativity.
Checked out some houses, Saw lots of shitty places. Have to keep looking.
I did see one or two decent places today, though. There's just one that I would be interested in making an offer on. Might be another one or two that could be worth looking at again, but they'll need some work. Everything else was a disaster.