Waterloo Schools survey shows 75% back dress code

2010-05-24T12:15:00Z Waterloo Schools survey shows 75% back dress codeBy ANDREW WIND, andrew.wind@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO - Nearly two-thirds of Waterloo Community Schools' parents sampled in a scientific survey voiced at least some support for a proposed restricted dress code coming before the Board of Education tonight.

That included 72 percent of the 402 people interviewed. Of the total, 47 percent voiced strong support after hearing a summary of the proposed policy. Another 29 percent opposed the policy with 19 percent indicating strong opposition.

Survey participants most frequently cited reduced competition over clothing as the most positive aspect of a dress code and infringing on freedom of expression as the most negative aspect.

The University of Northern Iowa's Center for Social and Behavioral Research conducted the survey between May 12 and 18 for the school district. The district provided a sample of 6,581 unduplicated telephone numbers of parents or guardians of kindergarten through 12th-grade students to the center, and 1,017 were called.

"This was the scientific or statistically valid survey mechanism that the board commissioned," said district spokeswoman Sharon Miller. The 402 respondents "was the recommended sample size for the number of parents or families in our school district."

The board requested the survey following an April work session where the possibility of a restricted dress code was discussed. A presentation at the meeting had included results from a limited survey done during parent teacher conferences. Miller noted that the district paid the center approximately $6,000 to conduct the survey.

A second reading of the dress code policy is coming before the board tonight. If approved, it would put in place for the fall of 2011, with individual schools having the option to implement it next fall. The board meets at 6 p.m. in the Education Service Center, 1516 Washington St.

The policy, which restricts students to a limited range of clothing options, is similar to uniform policies already in place at Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence and George Washington Carver Academy.

Miller noted that the board does not have to approve the policy tonight. "It is totally at their discretion whether to move ahead with approval or take some other action," she said.

The survey's executive summary said parents most frequently reported "reduced competitiveness about clothing" as "the most positive aspect of a restricted dress policy" in an uncued pair of questions. "The most negative aspect most frequently offered was infringing on students' freedom of expression."

Given a list of arguments for and against the policy, participants agreed "most strongly" that it "would reduce competitiveness about clothing, enhance a school's image, and reduce peer pressure." They disagreed "most strongly" that it "would improve attendance or harm the student's transition into adulthood when they will make their own clothing decisions and be judged on them."

The survey's summary and conclusion noted other primary advantages parents cited were that a dress code would help students stay focused on academics and prevent gang color affiliation. The other primary concern included the cost of complying with the policy. "Support was highest among middle income groups and those new to the District," said the conclusion.

All data was collected via assisted telephone interviewing technology. Interviewers were trained and supervised by the center's staff. Of those reached for the survey, 94 percent agreed to take it.



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(7) Comments

  1. jasonmburns
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    jasonmburns - September 04, 2010 12:41 pm
    I don't think they have a legal right to tell you how you MUST dress... This is a public school, not a private school. I had a dress code where I went to school, but I went to a private school. I don't think they should be able to do this at a public school... It's not about being able to afford the uniforms. It's about our civil liberties and what freedoms are we willing to give up. They take a few small ones and we compromise, but they are taking more and more everyday. They don't take away our freedom all at once, they take it slowly, little by little... soon we will have no freedom. Look at mandated insurance, taxes, free speech zones, curfews, grass ordinances... where do we draw the line people?
  2. hockey5
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    hockey5 - May 24, 2010 10:35 pm
    Once again we have been shown that our voices don't matter! I would like to thank the school board for taking away one of the few rights our children have. I went to a private school for 9 years. Uniforms did not stop the violence, did not stop the poor kids from standing out and being teased and did not make my education better. Prisons have uniforms, it hasn't stopped the violence there. The only thing that can improve the education in Waterloo is to have teachers, staff a school board and parents that CARE about the children and their education. There is already a dress code policy in place, but it is not enforced! I don't appreciate others telling me how to dress my children. Land of the Free, I don't think so.
  3. everubyred
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    everubyred - May 24, 2010 7:20 pm
    When I was in grade school through high school there was always a dress code. It was written in the student handbook and absolutely adhered to...boundaries are important for everyone. We all need to know and understand what is expected...my daughter said, "Mom, you always expected so much of me." My reply, "and you always gave it to your dad and I." We all need to know and understand the rules. We all need to know and understand what is expected of us. These are basic human needs, if we did not have rules and laws we would have anarchy and chaos, i.e., Waterloo Schools.
  4. christmaj
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    christmaj - May 24, 2010 4:53 pm
    If you look closely at the results, it is more about self-esteem than education. Is the goal of the Waterloo Community School District to reduce competitiveness about clothing or other image views? Make everyone feel good? Safety, discipline, student achievement and attendance are what schools should be concerned with, and, most importantly of those, increase student achievement/Academic performance. They rate at the bottom of the list of positive impacts of the dress code policy. So why restrict students rites? We already have a dress code that is not followed. Tell me how wearing closed-toed shoes as opposed to flip-flops helps education?

  5. xdfred
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    xdfred - May 24, 2010 4:25 pm
    I agree with the dress code policy.
  6. tomanderson
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    tomanderson - May 24, 2010 3:19 pm
    Pretty soon the gangs will start using the school uniformas as their colors and all will be for naught.
  7. myvoicematterstome
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    myvoicematterstome - May 24, 2010 1:49 pm
    I say YES to the dress code (uniform) policy. Trust me parents you will NOT go broke buying your children required clothing. You always manage to find the money to spend on the "name brand" clothing. This way you WILL save money!!
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