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THB Photo/John P. Cleary 3/30/04 Pete VanBaalen-Advertising Director

In the movie “Forrest Gump”, Forrest would tell people you could tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. The same is true with the clothes you wear.

I’m closer to Garanimals than I am to GQ when it comes to my fashion sense. I prefer to not wear a tie, and remain much more comfortable in my favorite Boston Red Sox sweatshirt than just about anything else.

But because of the schedule my wife and I have worked out, I find myself in a position of authority each morning; deciding what my son will wear to school. Perhaps, that is why he wears a lot more sweatshirts on the days I handle this task than when my wife does.

Picking out school clothes is an activity I’m still involved in with my son. I fully realize that day will end, probably sooner than later, and he will want more control of his appearance at school. He will seize control of this daily decision before he becomes a teenager, unless that decision is taken away.

More and more public school systems are tightening up dress codes, and some are going as far as creating school uniforms for their students. While the cost and feasibility of such an undertaking would have to be fleshed out, in general I like the concept of uniforms for students.

I’m the first to sympathize with the concerns of a school system having to enforce such a code, and infringing on the rights of students. In reality, they already have to enforce a dress code, which can be a handful already. Moving to uniforms might actually reduce the amount of time and resources spent dealing with such a wide variety of clothing being worn every day. If our teachers can spend more time teaching, and less time policing, moving to a uniform policy might be a worthwhile investment.

In Indianapolis, public school superintendent Eugene White wants to reduce sagging pants, covert gang markings and force girls to cover their midriffs. To accomplish this, Indianapolis Public Schools is seriously considering a move to uniforms.

Eliminating distractions in the school environment is a key to better learning. Moving to school uniforms would reduce the number of possible distractions in the classroom. There is no place in our schools for scantily clad girls and boys with their underwear hanging out of their jeans.

By allowing such attire in the classroom, what signal are we sending to the students? There are few high paying jobs in the workplace that allow such a dress code. Our schools are giving youths the skills and knowledge necessary to be productive adults. Maybe we should expand this to show proper etiquette and the social practices needed to build a successful career.

Look no further than Honda as an example of a best practice of uniforms. When touring its plant in Marysville, Ohio, and at the recent groundbreaking in Greensburg, top level executives sported the white uniforms. They will tell you that it creates a sense of teamwork and respect between employees. To me, that sounds like a wonderful environment for us to create in our schools too.

VanBaalen is the regional publisher for NHI covering Greensburg, Rushville and Batesville. He can be reached at (812) 663-3111 ext. 7001.

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