Friday, April 13, 2012

Occupy fights school uniforms?

It's happening.

Abolishing mandatory uniforms in public schools should be one of the top priorities of the Occupy coalition. Few stories in recent years have plastered smirks onto the smug faces of the 1% like the rise of uniforms has, because they know that when they get our kids young, that's it.

And now, our schools are being Occupied!

Students in Bridgeport, Connecticut, have circulated a petition against a right-wing uniform policy. The school system's unconstitutional sumptuary law topped the list of complaints by students who attended a citywide youth forum on Wednesday. The petition bore hundreds of signatures.

When the head of the school board praised uniforms, a student responded, "That's '90s talk."

Think the Bridgeport school district isn't stuck in the decade of incoherence? Well, Paul Vallas serves as its interim superintendent. That name dredges up bitter memories for education activists, as it was Vallas who helped devastate the Chicago and Philadelphia school systems with his far-right corporatist gimmickry.

In Midland, Texas, it's parents who are circulating a petition to abolish uniforms. Within hours, this petition already amassed 70 signatures:

These petition drives seem to represent perhaps the purest form of freedom: the knowledge that basic liberties exist. Knowing your rights and taking steps to defend them is perhaps even more fundamental than exercising these rights. People exercise basic rights every day, but that doesn't always mean these rights are fully understood. And - trust me - requiring uniforms in public schools is a breach of constitutional rights. The Tinker v. Des Moines ruling affirms this.

My only disagreement with these petition campaigns: Folks should have skipped the petition and just defied the uniform policy outright. Call the schools' bluff. What can the schools do? At this rate, however, such mass disobedience isn't far off.

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