School is a fashion-obsessed place. Or at least it used to be. The kind and quality of clothing a child used to show up to school in told you alot about what they felt comfortable in, how they identified themselves, and even socio-economic status. But in more and more public schools, especially among lower-income districts, school uniform policies are on the rise.
It’s specifically because clothing is an indicator of socio-economic status that many lower-income school districts are now requiring students to wear uniforms, the thought being that if everybody blends in, no one can get teased about being rich, poor, or anywhere in-between. It reportedly cuts down on distraction and makes for a more disciplined environment too, since nobody has either holes in their jeans or the latest designer clothes to draw attention.
Cities like Detroit, and Flint, Michigan, who both have large percentages of lower-income households, have tried to make the school uniform guidelines relatively simple. But still not every parent can afford to outfit their child according to the policies, and many children start the school year without them.
So where to turn? Although unlikely at the very beginning of the school year, school officials can send your child home if they do not comply with school uniform policy, so you need to fix the situation as quickly as possible. If you or someone you know has trouble scraping up the means to outfit their school-age child every year, you have a few options.
If you or a relative are the handy sort, you can go the do-it-yourself route and make your child school-appropriate clothes. Most of us aren’t though, or simply don’t have the time. Another option is charity organizations, like churches or Goodwill, who may get you what you require at little or no cost. Consignment shops, featuring gently-used clothing, have taken root in many lower-income communities, so there may be options there as well.
There are also increasing numbers of school uniform drives, where people in the school district donate either clothing or money for children who don’t yet have their uniforms. Detroit made headlines a few days ago for just such an event. The understanding of the increased need for such an outreach prompted hundreds to donate, and the event went from being able to serve just one school to being able to outfit children at seven different schools this year who did not yet have their uniforms.
School uniform policies appear to be taking root, especially in low-income areas. High unemployment rates and other financial hardships may make it difficult to comply, so it’s important to think through your options so that it doesn’t eventually affect your child’s access to learning.
DetroitK12.org, “Student Dress Code Policy for All Students K-12.”
ClickOnDetroit.com, “Detroit Kids Given Free School Uniforms.”
FlintSchools.org, “School Uniform Policy.”