Jul 24, 2005

I recently read this article by TANGELA CRAFT and thought it was worth posting. Apparently while it is illegal for schools to discriminate based on race and gender; it's acceptable for a public school to discriminate against low income students whose families can't afford to buy pricey uniforms from upscale stores.

Lincoln Academy Uniforms

The "No Child Left Behind" concept continues to elude the policy-makers in Florida. In this case, the policy-makers at Lincoln Academy in Lakeland are continuing to offer more and better opportunities to those children who come from economically advantaged homes.It was recently brought to the attention of several parents (after their children were accepted into the Lincoln Academy program) that they must purchase school uniforms from a specific uniform company. Uniforms are currently a requirement for all elementary schools in Polk County. However, there is no justification for parents to be required to pay exorbitant prices for uniforms because schools such as Lincoln Academy have adopted a specific uniform supplier. Parents of lesser economic means cannot afford to clothe one child, let alone more than one, in these overpriced outfits.The blatant discrimination exists in the fact that parents are told that if they cannot afford to purchase new uniforms from this specific company, they have the option to purchase used uniforms directly from the school.What sense does this make? Anyone would know that a child's self-esteem is affected when forced to wear secondhand clothes. What parent wants their child to begin the school year in an outfit worn by a stranger? Good quality uniforms are available at Wal-Mart, JC Penney and other outlets. These stores offer the same types of uniform clothing at drastically reduced prices.To add insult to injury, Lincoln Academy has proclaimed the right to look inside a child's uniform to verify that it was purchased from the company that they have a contract with. This flies in the face of logic and good sense. If looking at a tag inside a child's clothing is the only way to verify the origin of his or her uniform, clearly there must not be any major difference in a uniform purchased from a department store.Is the origin of a uniform more important than a family's dignity? Why should children from economically challenged homes be forced to wear used clothes when, if given the option to shop for discounted items, they can dress in their own new clothes?It is policies such as the one adopted by Lincoln Academy that allow people in power positions to select which children will receive a quality education. Some proud, poor people would rather not sacrifice their dignity in order to get their children into these magnet schools.

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