My husband and I are both products of public school. I guess I’ll go the extra step and say that we’re happy products of public school, although we both had our issues with bullying and the like — which, of course, can happen in any school setting.
We think the Champaign school system seems great. Really, we do. Still, we have chosen to send our kids to a local private school. We’re happy with this decision, but it’s good to perennially pause and reflect on our kids’ experience in light of the path we didn’t choose: public school.
If we’re happy with our decision, then why should we pause and reflect, you might ask? Because the nagging thought that we’re paying for something twice rankles a bit. How necessary is it for us to fund the local public schools through our taxes and pay hundreds of dollars a month for private school? I’m still not sure about that. But, I’ll tease out some of the issues, one at a time, in this series.
Issue one: School uniforms.
I have to be honest, I thought I’d hate school uniforms. Or, more accurately, I thought I’d hate the daily battles my kids would mount over having to wear them.
Turns out, those fights never really came to pass, and I L-O-V-E school uniforms.
There are no fights over endless outfit choices, no “You can’t wear your favorite shirt because it’s dirty,” no line-drawing about what is and isn’t appropriate to wear. The uniform is the uniform.
A surprising upside to wearing uniforms, I think, is the fact that as long as the components remain relatively unsoiled, a child can wear the exact same clothes two days in a row without any social backlash. No one is the wiser, no one cares. Oh, how I love the uniform.
And did I mention the uniform closet? At our school, parents donate outgrown uniforms to a communal take-what-you-need closet. This means that I’ve been able to outfit my kids for less than what would have been our public school clothing budget.
Finally, I like how tidy and formal my kiddos look when they leave in the morning. Jack, who a year ago wouldn’t let me put anything with buttons or a collar over his head, looks quite the dapper little gentleman now. And Kate in her “jumper”? Priceless.
People are always quick to point out, too, that uniforms are the great equalizer. No one is able to stand out — for better or for worse — because of his or her clothing if the school espouses uniforms. I suppose that is as true as it could possibly be (which is to say, it’s sort of true).
The upshot? Uniforms = score one for the private school.
Next issue: choice of daily schedules (or, lack thereof).
What has been your experience with/without school uniforms? Share in the comments!
Rachael McMillan just took part-time job number 5,482: teaching sixth- and seventh-grade history at Campus Middle School for girls. She also tutors at The Reading Group and serves as the education coordinator for Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer in downtown Champaign. She is totally in love with her Chambana life, which she shares with husband Scott, kindergartner Kate, and first-grader Jack.