Mandate School Uniforms For State

Readers write

February 27, 1991

From: Sonia Mittelstedt

Pasadena

Editor's note: This letter is addressed to the state superintendent of schools and all county boards of education for the state of Maryland.

My name is Sonia Mittelstedt. I am a fashion designer and a mother of four children. As a parent, I have recognized a major and ever-growing problem in the public school system today, and that is the dress code.

The peer pressure for students todress in the latest fashion is causing undue stress on the students as well as the parents. It is impossible for lower- or even the moderate-income family to provide socially acceptable clothing for their children with the current cost of designer fashions. How does the youngster who is not wearing the latest "cool" fashions fit into peer groups? The problem is big, as well as sad, in both the psychological and physical arenas.

I have talked to many other parents, and the most predominant problem I have found was the stress on everyone's budget from struggling to try to dress their children for school. As timeapproaches for the school year to start, parents go shopping. However, most are unable to buy what the child wants and needs because of the outrageous cost of clothing. For example, a pair of boys' Cavaricci pants -- one of the latest hot fashion items -- costs about $75. One particular mother stated that her son was afraid to go to school because he knew that he could not dress like the other children. He knew he would be ridiculed by his classmates and would not fit into their group; he would be considered a "nerd." This affected him mentally and physically because he did feel good about himself.

On the other hand, there are the young girls who want to look like a high-fashion magazine model. These girls want to wear provocative attire, make-up to go with it, and hairdos that are designed to provoke the male youth and sexually attract them -- no wonder teen pregnancy is booming.When the people in my generation were young teen-agers, we looked like young teen-agers. Our parents and our schools did not allow anyoneto dress in a provocative manner.

There are a lot of people out there who cannot afford to dress their children in the type of high-fashion attire they need to fit in. I have done some research in a few stores, and it resulted in the following examples:

Designer jeans (Bugle Boy, Used, Guess, etc.): $34-70

Designer T-shirt (Quick Silver, Stuzzi, Nike, etc.): $15-60

Tennis shoes (Reebok, British Knights, Nike, etc.): $75-160

My plan is to ease the stress and pressure brought about by the above-mentioned situations by creating a dress code in public schools. This is not a new plan; parochial schools have been using them for many years. A uniform dress code will eliminate the students' social and mental stress, allowing greater concentration on scholastic excellence, as well as relieving the financial burden to parents' budgets.

What I'm asking for is the adoption of aschool uniform, but one that would not be too objectionable to the students: one that would consist of basic apparel of a four- or five-piece wardrobe with some school colors, logos and/or neutral colors orprints to be worn daily except once a month, when there will be freedress.

As a fashion designer and a manufacturer, I subscribe to the weekly Apparel News, in which information is published on the upcoming fashions for the next year -- the colors, fabrics and so on. Once approved, I will prepare a portfolio of my ideas, designs, fabrics,colors and manufacturing services; plus, I will update the uniform yearly to stay abreast of the trends.

With this plan, everyone willcome out a winner: students, faculty and parents. There is no down side when we are talking about the physical and mental health of our children.

I would like to have the uniform policy enacted for the 1991-1992 school year for the whole state of Maryland.

IT'S TIME TO RESCIND RETIREMENT-AGE BILL

From: John Leopold

Former member

Maryland General Assembly

I was pleased to note that the County Council has introduced legislation to rescind the section of the 1989 pension bill that lowered the retirement age for county elected officials and top-ranking department heads from 60 to 50.

The lowered retirement age, which was approved by former County Executive (O.) James Lighthizer and supported unanimously in May 1989 by the members of the County Council, was an irresponsible slap in the face of every county taxpayer, and its repeal cannot come soon enough.

SUPPORT PROPOSED BILLS TO PROTECT ENVIRONMENT

From: Mary Rosso

President

Maryland Waste Coalition

It is imperative that yourreaders know just how important the 20/20 Chesapeake Growth and Protection Act is to the controlled-growth issue and the tax issue. Not many people really know just how significant this bill is.

This bill will effectively start the process of statewide growth control, curbing urban sprawl while cutting down on the big bucks that are spent on servicing sprawl. The majority of our tax dollars are used to support services and build roads, bridges, sewer lines, and all the ancillary services needed to maintain these infrastructure systems.

Thebill itself will immediately protect the sensitive areas identified as: steep slopes; critical habitat for endangered species; stream buffers, 100 feet for perennial streams, 100 feet for intermittent streams in rural and resource areas, and 50 feet for intermittent streams in growth and developed areas; and flood plains (except tidal).

The jurisdictions will come up with three land classifications: developed areas; growth areas; and rural and resource areas. There will be mapping required, public hearings, and so on. During this interim period, while the locals are doing their identifying and mapping, we willhave protection of sensitive areas.

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