First, a bit of background: beginning my senior year of high school in 1997, my public-school system went on a right-wing jag, fueled by a Nazi-prick superintendent fresh from Texas. Even after Herr Superintendent was run out of town on a rail three years later, the jag continued to propel itself like a Karl Rove virus. The pinnacle of this fuck-up-itude was the institution of uniforms in all Lafayette Parish public schools just after I left. Luck was on my side, at least that one time.
When the decision was announced (with next to no input from students or anyone else who didn't utterly favor the complete eradication of student rights), people around here acted like it was the Single Greatest Educational Advance in History. Even people who should have known better were singing the praises for the end of the completely non-existent problem of fashion consciousness that was disrupting education. Jeez, I could go on forever. But on with the letter:
It starts with a long anecdote about a little girl (the teacher's neighbor) who discovers the value and innate goodness of the police. Why were the police such benevolent and efficient crime fighters?
As I reflect on this incident, I conclude that my little friend adopted policemen as her friends due to the UNIFORMITY of their activities. They did not physically look identical, but they were all working uniformly for the protection of the common citizen. My little friend probably could not identify these officers if she saw them again, but she would recognize the UNIFORMS and feel happiness.
This is where it gets real good.
You see, the word UNIFORM symbolizes compromise, togetherness, a common purpose--all made obvious by a specific method of dress.
I have to go with George Carlin on this one: "School uniforms! Bad Idea. BAD IDEA. It isn't enough that we're teaching these kids to THINK alike, now they have to LOOK alike too?!! But this isn't a new idea. I remember seeing it in filmstrips from the 1930s, only I couldn't understand what they were saying because the narration was in GERMAN!"
It does not mean loss of identity, but it does symbolize differences and similarities forming a common bond for the purpose of achieving a desired outcome! Students, I encourage you to wear those uniforms with pride. Wear your uniform as a sign that you are only a temporary part of the caboose and that you are actively preparing to claim your place as a uniformed ADULT of merit! Walk tall and think big!!
Have a fantastic year, everyone!
Lafayette High School
ALL RIGHT! That wasn't AT ALL depressing! Kids, heed this lesson: don't bother getting your expressive kicks out now, because you won't get to later anyway. After all, school should be a training ground for Future Corporate Cogs of America! It's no place for expression.
But in a way it's worked. As far as I know, 1999 was the first year that anyone ever graduated from the Lafayette Parish school system. Uniforms sure would have helped me; I've been in the public-school system for 20 years, from preschool to graduate school, and I have just been wayward without a restrictive dress code!
The day I see teachers and school-board members practice what they preach, and wear the same uniforms as the students, is the day that I begin to rebuild my respect for those who wish to exert unfair power over children.