A high school student has sued to force school officials to allow her to wear clothes with the Confederate flag on it. The Confederate flag is one of those intriguing symbols that at the same time represents heritage and the sacrifice of Southern soldiers, but also prejudice and slavery, equated by some along with the Nazi symbol. But this post is not about the Confederate symbol, but about school uniforms. That's right, uniforms!
I went to a school with uniforms, and I can tell you I'm appreciative. Not just because of contentious debate over Confederate flags or the like. Students in uniforms mean kids expend less energy at school being distracted by others' clothing. The lines between the preppy and the nerdy begins to dim. It means poor families no longer have to deal with their teen needing to wear fashionable clothing to school. It allows for better homogenization among different groups, but more importantly, as a consequence, it allows students to focus on the subjects in the classroom, rather than external factors. Oh, and I'd have strict rules on hair and grooming ... sorry, I don't think a school has to honor a kid's freedom of expression by wearing a purple mohawk!
Of course, what exactly we focus on in school is another issue. George Will wrote a brilliant piece where he pointed out that we seem to be spending more energy and attention on "helping kids discover themselves" rather than teaching them core subjects, like science and mathematics. This might have been ok in the past, but in an increasing age of global competiveness, this won't do!