Parents, teachers and students were asked to complete a survey in January regarding uniforms at the Waitsfield Elementary School. The topic was raised by a number of parents at a PTA meeting in December. The administration worked with a parent to develop a survey to find out the pulse of the community on this issue. The following are the results of the survey.There were 112 respondents to the survey. Of the respondents, 77.5 percent were parents, 5.4 percent were students, and 16.2 percent were staff. The distribution of respondents across the grades (Pre-K-6) was fairly even with the greatest number of respondents being associated with the second and sixth grades. In general, 65 percent of those who filled out the survey felt there was no need for uniforms at the WES. Nineteen percent supported the idea and 15 percent were undecided.
In public schools that have required uniforms, many report they have done so for reasons related to safety, economic, and social/cultural reasons. Respondents at WES indicated that they did not feel there was a behavioral concern to be addressed and that uniforms would not improve student behavior (67 percent). With regard to the impact uniforms would have on "making the teachers' job easier/harder" the majority of respondents did not feel uniforms would have an impact one way or the other (70 percent). Regarding how uniforms help address safety issues, 94 percent of those filling out the survey did not feel there was an issue to be addressed in this area.
While research on the topic may indicate that uniforms are in fact cost effective for families when compared to other clothing options, of those responding to this question a small percentage felt uniforms would be more expensive for families while others (45 percent) agreed that it would be cost effective.
In summary, the majority of respondents do not support uniforms for WES students despite the fact that they feel clothing can interfere with social relationships and may have the benefit of "leveling the social playing field." A majority of respondents believe that clothing is an important way to express individuality and at the same time can create social problems.
"It is interesting to note that comments both for and against uniforms were often strong and emotionally expressed. This is obviously a controversial issue that many feel is worth talking about. While this conversation is sure to continue as we concern ourselves with issues of media literacy, consumer habits and socially responsible civic behavior, those interested are encouraged to explore web-based resources. These resources represent a range of perspectives. Links will be posted on the school website for your convenience," said school Principal Richard Schattman, who with Krissy Bisbee compiled the results of the survey.