Following Suit in South Bend Schools

By: Kari Huston
By: Kari Huston

“Now we look like a school instead of a night club!” That’s a comment teachers made about the school uniform policy in effect at four schools within the South Bend School Corporation.

Tonight Brown and Jackson Intermediate and Harrison and Wilson Primary Schools reported to the School Board. Teachers say they've seen mostly improvements since students began wearing uniforms in the 2005-2006 academic year.

“What’s really exciting is that the students are not only reading more books, but their reading level has increased,” explains Dianne Greaves, Assistant Superintendent of School Management. “Students are frequently told they look like they're taking learning seriously.”

Five more schools are considering making the switch to uniforms next year; Washington, Navarre, Pearly, Madison and Hay.

“It's an issue that I think the administration, along with the parents have to look at and decide whether they want to take on,” says Superintendent Dr. Robert Zimmerman. "It takes a lot of cooperation from everyone. It's not something we want to mandate.”

If more than 70 percent of the staff and parents want uniforms in a school they can submit a proposal to the board. Many of the South Bend students who wear uniforms weren't crazy about the switch, but teachers say they're still showing more respect for authority. “At Brown and Jackson student demeanor has improved,” Dr. Greaves reports. “There was also a decrease in verbal outbursts and horseplay in the hallways.”

If uniforms mean a more positive and productive learning environment, it's a change Dr. Zimmerman and his new administration say they'll support.

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