In Brief: Oberlin Considers School Uniforms for Students
The Oberlin school district is exploring a uniforms requirement for its students, an idea that has sparked nationwide debate. Glenn Hodge, a concerned 1965 Oberlin High School graduate, suggested at the school board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27 that school uniforms would put a halt to growing youth crime.
The board has agreed to look into the uniform policy, although several of the five members have varying opinions on its effectiveness.
Ian Yarber, a 1987 OHS graduate and board member since January 2006, questioned whether the institution of uniforms alone would truly affect crime rates: “It takes the parents at home” to help improve students’ behavior, he offered. He summed up his opinion by saying, “I’m not against uniforms, but I question uniforms in Oberlin.”
Vice President of the Board Stephanie Jones told The Chronicle-Telegram of Elyria that she did not support the proposed change: “I don’t see what it would bring to the district.”
Jones has personally felt the impact of youth violence. Her 16-year-old son Matthew was shot twice on Saturday, Nov. 10, though he is now back in school. The alleged shooter is a 15-year-old Elyria native, who will be tried for attempted murder as an adult.
Carol Correthers, whose election to the board on Tuesday, Nov. 6 is still in contention, supported the policy, saying that students in uniforms are “not caught up in their clothes or what people are wearing.” Paula Jones, who also supports the idea, may replace Correthers after a recount is completed.
President of the Board and Associate Dean of the Conservatory Marci Alegant and final member Beth Weiss have not yet decided their respective stances on school uniforms. Alegant said, “I have a mixed opinion....There’s research out there that says…[having uniforms] reduces discipline problems, but there is also research that contradicts that.” She added that the current state of the policy is “very preliminary.”
Superintendent Geoffrey Andrews said only, “I don’t have an opinion at this point — it is a policy question for the board to wrestle with.” Andrews told the Review that he would be researching “how uniforms impact student achievement, building climate, bullying and other variables, and reporting back to the board.”
By Ohio law, the board may not enact any uniform law without public feedback and at least six-months notice to parents. There must also be a plan for providing uniforms to students of low-income families who could not otherwise afford them.