Dressing for success is a priority for Waterloo Community Schools - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dressing for success is a priority for Waterloo Community Schools

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The appearance of students in Waterloo may be changing. A group of parents and educators is discussing a plan to require all kids to wear uniforms in the classroom.

Right now, the School Improvement Advisory Committee is just at the discussion phase. But both East and West High Schools are considering adopting a uniform policy as soon as next school year.

This is not a new concept in the district, and administrators and parents are just asking the community to keep an open mind.

If you step inside Cunningham Elementary, you might think the kids look like model students. And, in a way, they are. The rest of the district is taking notice of the success in how the youngsters dress.

Lead Teacher Kathi Latta explained, "we know that when kids are in uniform they come to school, they know what their job is, they're ready to work. There's a clear difference in their minds of - I'm in my play clothes, I'm playing around. I'm in my school clothes, I'm at work."

Administrators believe this could hold true as playing around, turns into just hanging out. The high schools are considering a similar uniform policy, and many parents are behind the plan.

As the parent of two boys at East and two boys at Cunningham Elementary, Maneca Seenster noted, "I think if they wear uniforms they'll be focused on education and not on their clothes.

Even tykes say, wearing polo shirts and slacks takes a lot of common taunting and teasing out of the equation.

Tyran Collins said pointedly, "kids can't talk about you."

Latta said it's important, "particularly for kids that struggle perhaps with poverty issues. It means that no one's talking about whether you wore the same clothes two or three days in a row."

And there is still room for a little individuality.

Fourth grader Naomi Pickett said every morning she, "usually put in a few hair combinations."

Collins sets himself apart in a different way.

"Most of my friends don't wear belts. I do," he explained. Although Collins added, "I'm not wearing one today though!"

Another consideration is the cost. Parents said it can actually be cheaper than regular school clothes. Most of the major discount retailers in town carry the approved shirt and pant colors.

Carver Middle School even worked out a plan where parents can pay for uniforms by volunteering a certain number of hours. And we all know how fast young kids grow out of their clothes. So another way Cunningham Elementary is cutting down on the cost to parents is holding uniform-swaps throughout the year.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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