Lake Highlands Elementary students: Angel Cochran via Facebook

Lake Highlands Elementary students: Angel Cochran via Facebook

School uniforms can improve conduct and concentration and cost less, proponents say.

As Dallas ISD continues to tighten up its dress code, now enforcing uniforms for all elementary and middle school students, Richardson ISD leaves dress code largely up to individual schools.

Parents and students at some RISD elementary schools have taken it upon themselves to encourage uniforms, based on the idea that they help foster an environment in which students are more likely to avoid distractions that can prevent success.

Also, it’s cheaper and more convenient for parents, uniform proponents say.

Lake Highlands Elementary has a voluntary uniform policy. Kristin Schroer, mom of boys Max and Bennet, is the appointed PTA Board Uniform Fairy.

Her job is to incentivize widespread uniform wear. Make it cool.

See, in Kindergarten through about 3rd grade, most of the kids wear the uniform — a solid red, white or black polo-style shirt with solid khaki or black bottoms — but by fourth and fifth, many are ready to exert their independence, thus the street clothes gain popularity.

OK, so, first, why are uniforms so important? The Uniform Fairy points to several reasons, backed largely by studies:

One study found a decrease in violence, theft, peer pressure and bullying and an increased concentration in schools where uniforms are required.

A well-known study in Ohio, showed an increase in attendance and graduation rates for students who spent their school days in uniform.

Advocates say uniforms create an increased sense of belonging and discourage cliques.

Wildcat spirit wear on Fridays falls under the uniform guidelines. *

Wildcat spirit wear on Fridays falls under the uniform guidelines at LHE. *

Then there is the cost factor: A non-uniform student at the beginning of each school year costs his guardian about $729.00, according to one survey.  Schroer says the cost for the same accoutrements for uniformed students total about $250 each.

Logistically, a uniform is easier Schroer adds. She says with a simple rotation of three shirts and three bottoms, her son Max, who is entering the second grade, can mostly reliably choose his own outfit each morning. The worst that can happen is he ends up looking like Johnny Cash, she says—black on black.

So how can she get the older students to wear uniforms? Schroer says she met last year with some of the 5th graders to get ideas. The boys said, “You’re gonna need to offer big candy,” she says.

The girls said, “concert tickets – One Direction.”

The PTA Uniform Fairy is limited by budget constraints, though, so she must get creative. The worst that can happen is he ends up looking like Johnny Cash, she says—black on black.

One thing that seems to work is pizza and or movie parties for those who wear uniforms consistently, she says.

She also is planning a uniform cam— she’ll take photos of the uniformed students and post them to a fun online bulletin board.

Any LHE student who has trouble affording the suggested school uniform should contact his/her counselor, Schroer says. They will help. Anyone can get help buying a uniform.

One more note: This weekend is Tax Free Weekend in Texas, so uniform or no, commence back-to-school shopping.