The first official day of fall happened last week, and that typically precedes a change in wardrobe for area students. But that won't be the case at Gregory Elementary where, this year, the downtown magnet school became the only public school in the county to require uniforms.
Once the domain of private schools, uniforms have made inroads into area public schools. The Roger Bacon Academy in Leland and the Brunswick Learning Center in Southport have also instituted school uniforms.
Dress code violations have been a recurring topic of concern for area school district officials. Superintendent John Morris sent out a letter to principals last year stressing the board would consider mandatory uniforms if dress violations weren't reduced. The board never carried out that threat, but it did encourage schools interested in uniforms to institute their own program, an invitation Gregory Elementary School was quick to take up.
Ours wouldn't be the only North Carolina public school district to require uniforms. Beaufort Schools began requiring uniforms this year after a trial run at select schools last year. The uniformed schools reported considerable improvements in dropout rates, attendance, suspensions and test performance.
School uniforms are one of those topics that bring out strong opinions, pro and con. Uniforms aren't likely to stifle disciplinary problems or dramatically improve grades, but they do eliminate peer pressure, fashion one-upmanship, shirts with inappropriate messages and clothing on young women that is too short and too tight.
It's worth trying. Existing dress codes haven't stopped some students from looking more ready for a day at the beach or a "hot date" than for a day of learning, and teachers and principals shouldn't have to be fashion police.