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DRAPER SCHOOL LEADS DEBATE ON UNIFORMS

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If students have to wear uniforms then teachers should have to wear them, too, argues a Draper Elementary student.

Wanting input on the school's decision over whether to require school uniforms for students, fourth grader Christine Shell wrote Principal Ron Jarrett a letter outlining reasons against it.Teachers might like wearing uniforms because it would save them time getting ready in the morning, Shell wrote.

But students don't want uniforms because they will "complain and whine and not like coming to school." Shell believes it would take away special privileges from students.

Shell also expressed concern about not being able to find her brother on the playground if everyone looked alike.

About 100 students also submitted a petition to Jarrett protesting wearing uniforms. Student enrollment at Draper Elementary is 956.

Draper Elementary is taking the lead in Utah when it comes to debate on the school uniform issue. School officials recently held a conference with parents to discuss the pros and cons of requiring uniforms. The meeting included a fashion show featuring students modeling a variety of uniform styles.

Parents were equally divided between those who support and those who oppose uniforms.

Reasons for opposing focused primarily on the issue of freedom of choice and expression. Parents were also concerned about cost. Many think it will be more expensive to buy uniforms for their kids to wear to school and another set of playclothes to wear after school.

Those favoring uniforms emphasized that studies show increased academic achievement among students when they are not distracted by worrying about wearing name-brand clothing and keeping up with their peers. They also argued that uniforms would enhance a feeling of uniformity among students. While there isn't a gang problem at Draper Elementary currently, several parents believe that requiring uniforms would "keep outside gang influence from creeping in."

Draper Elementary is taking the lead on the uniform question because Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, is the co-chair of the parent-teacher committee studying the issue. Stephenson sponsored the bill that was passed in the last legislative session allowing Utah schools to require uniforms.

Jarrett hopes to have the issue decided by the end of June. Parents will be given an opportunity to vote on the issue. The principal will also consult with Jordan School District officials before any policies are finalized.

If uniforms are approved, students could be required to wear them by January 1995.