Need to Know | February 16, 2017 | School Uniforms

Need to Know | February 16, 2017 | School Uniforms


HELENE – RESEARCHERS ARE DIVIDED OVER HOW
MUCH OF AN IMPACT – IF ANY – DRESS POLICIES HAVE ON STUDENT LEARNING. CRITICS IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
MAKE THE CASE THAT UNIFORMS DON’T IMPROVE SCHOOL SAFETY OR ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE. ON THE OTHER HAND, STUDIES INDICATE THAT IN
SOME HIGH SCHOOLS, UNIFORMS CAN HAVE GREAT POSITIVE EFFECTS ON FACTORS LIKE ATTENDANCE
RATES AND EVEN SELF-ESTEEM. BUT WHAT’S THE IMPACT OF SCHOOL UNIFORMS IN
ROCHESTER? I EXPLORE IN TONIGHT’S STORY. TAKE A LOOK. (Doreen Passantino) Uniform sweaters, 24,
22 to 24… jumpers are $30. (Sasha Ann-Simons) The style and color of
school uniforms… (Passantino) A t-shirt is $8, a pair of shorts
is 10, Oxford shirts… short sleeved 18, long sleeved 20. (Sasha) … is quite possibly the least of
some parents’ concern. (Passantino) Somebody’s bill might be average
$200. But we always say “then you’re done. You don’t have to go buy anything else.” (Sasha) It’s a fast-growing trend. In just the past two years, the number of
Rochester schools requiring uniforms jumped nearly 20%. At Passantino’s, a uniform store in Irondequoit,
Doreen and her husband Ron Passantino have managed a steady business for the past 25
years. (Passantino) We’re going from morning til
night. (Sasha) Each year, nearly 3,000 back-to-school
orders at Passantino’s come in from across the region. School administrators believe school uniforms
help with behavioral issues. But it also comes with a downside. (Wakili Moore) We’ve moved away from the
blazers because that was funded by a state grant, so we couldn’t fund that anymore. So it’s hard to ask parents to buy those
because they’re very expensive. (Sasha) Wakili Moore is the principal of the
Leadership Academy For Young Men. The public school, which requires students
to wear a uniform, opened its doors six years ago. At the Leadership Academy, boys from seventh
through twelfth grade are taught the importance of discipline, respect and education. Moore says dressing in uniform helps to instill
those values in the more than 90% African-American student population. (Moore) There was research six years ago of
boys of color in the city of Rochester graduating at a rate of 9%. And we wanted to raise that rate. Researchers in cities like Atlanta and Tampa
Bay are divided over whether school uniforms do any good for students. Critics say that mandatory school uniforms
hurt children from minority families who are often unable to afford the uniform. But despite the cost, more students and their
families have embraced the school’s uniform policy. (Reginald Harvey) I was actually kind of happy
to have a uniform, as weird as that might sound, because I didn’t have a lot of fancy
clothes like everyone else had worn. This was normal, you know? (Sasha) Senior Reginald Harvey says he owes
a lot of gratitude to his mother for making ends meet. Colin Bavibidila and Jack Fisher are among
more than 900 boys at private catholic school McQuaid Jesuit. They say they take pride in looking the part. (Jack Fisher) I knew it was going to be way
more expensive than the clothes I usually wear. (Sasha) Administrators define the garments
as “dress code” rather than “uniforms.” That way the students can experience the benefits
that lie ahead. (Jack Fisher) I think it encourages you to
dress for a future job or a future interview process. (Jodi Aman) You can’t universalize a whole
classroom of kids and say this is universally good or universally not good because it does
depend on the individual. The research is so skewed on this topic. (Sasha) Psychotherapist Jodi Aman often talks
to her clients about their self-image and self-esteem. She says external factors like peer pressure
and the media have created increasingly high and unreasonable social standards. (Aman) A uniform equalizes everybody, and
people aren’t as worried about measuring up and belonging because they already do. (Moore) This is how they should present themselves. And we have seen a difference in behavior
and confidence and how proud they feel of themselves when they dress this way. (Sasha) And if the school survey of this small
group is any indicator, the heated national debate over school uniforms so far shows no
sign of igniting in Rochester. (Harvey) There’s not discrimination. (Sasha) Sasha-Ann Simons, WXXI News.

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