Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 at 10:13am

Do Parents Really Want Discipline in Schools?

Posted by admin

Survey any parent about their child’s school, and one of the top issues will likely be the lack of discipline in the school system.  Visit any coffee shop, bar, or family gathering, and when the discussion turns to the school system, inevitably the talk is of how kids today act like hoodlums. Back in the day, kids were paddled by the drill sergeant coach, and going to the principal’s office really meant something.

Could this just be “all talk” from parents who suffer from the three-mile-walk-uphill-both-ways-to-school-syndrome?  Or, does it really say something deeper, which is that most parents don’t really want discipline in the schools, especially when it comes to their kids?

Do parents want discipline in the schools?  If tomorrow, schools could revert back to pre-1972 student codes of conduct and discipline, would most parents support them?  Would today’s parents would be okay with:

  • A principal paddling a student with a wooden paddle with holes drilled in it for higher velocity.
  • A student being sent home for not tucking their shirt in.
  • An elementary child sent to the corner in front of the class for not following instructions.
  • A teacher sending a note home with a child instructing the parents to improve their child’s hygiene, or not send them back to school.
  • Enforcing dress codes for schools and special events to the point that children are sent home and told not to return until they conform.

For those who went to school “back in the day,” the rules were tough and feelings were not spared, but that strict discipline created a lifetime of character.

The reason we pose this question about discipline and today’s parents is because School Board Member Jim Miller argued recently that  school uniforms could solve many of the discipline problems in schools.  Miller believes the Lake County School District should implement a school uniform program because of real safety issues.  We agree with Mr. Miller, as we stated in a previous The Right Side of the LakeThe overt and subtle gangs in our schools are creating a bullying environment in our schools and uniforms are a base necessity for student discipline and safety.

Jim Miller’s letter to his fellow board members makes a strong argument for a Lake County School uniform program.  Read it and see what you think.

To my fellow board members: more information about uniforms and a proposal.

At a January workshop, I brought up the subject of mandatory uniforms for all schools.  The presentation from Osceola Co. at the FSBA conference had convinced me it was the thing to do.   At a February workshop, we discussed the subject and to my surprise we didn’t have consensus to pursue.  I hadn’t done my homework.  I assumed everyone was on the same page.  My bad.

I realize that I cannot make a motion to pursue this subject further, but I feel I must share the findings of my “homework”.  Hopefully, someone from the majority will put it back on the table.

My “homework” was two-fold.  1. Touring two Osceola high schools, and 2. Meeting with Sheriff Borders and his person in charge of gangs.  Neither was what I expected.

My wife and I toured Celebration HS and Osceola HS on a Friday.  Dr. Laura Rhinehart shared with us her fears about opening day, now almost three years ago.  It was her first day as Principal of Celebration and the last thing she wanted was problems.  But it went smoothly and now she is a big fan of uniforms – uniform dress, Osceola style.  She also was proud to tell us that they went from a D to an A.  Principal Gary Preisser met us at Osceola HS to show us their uniform dress.  Osceola HS has one of the highest free & reduced lunch percentages, approaching 70%, yet they moved from a C to a B high school.  He was very proud of his school.

Uniform dress, Osceola style:  We discovered that Fridays are spirit days and the kids are allowed to wear their school spirit t-shirts (e.g. Osceola HS Kowboys t-shirts) – Monday through Thursday they wear their school colors polo shirts.  We also learned that jeans are allowed if appropriately fitted and a belt is used.  You can see from the attached pictures that over 80% wear jeans.  Per my wife, “I was struck by the civility of both campuses.  I felt safer.  It was as if the uniformity of dress reminded everyone why they were there – to learn.”

Both principals echoed that because of uniform dress, classroom disruptions and other incidents were down; both campuses were safer and felt safer.  Osceola’s safety stats show a dramatic decline in discipline issues for the last two years – 30% in discipline referrals, 35% in fewer classroom disruptions, 75% reduction in gang related activity.  Both principals were proud of their schools, but also proud of their district.  Osceola which has Florida’s highest percentage of free and reduced lunch, 67.34%, had all A and B high schools last year – amazing.  It struck me that obviously students learn better when they feel safer.  Retired teacher, Leesburg City Commissioner, Sanna Henderson pointed out that much of bullying is about clothes.  Gary Preisser confirmed that bullying was down.  For all of their high schools to be an A or B, their lower quartile must be feeling safer and is doing much better with uniform dress.

Sheriff Borders gang officer showed me stats that there were only two gang incidents reported in Lake County Schools last year.  They did agree that we have “wannabe” gangs in our schools who are responsible for most of the graffiti in our communities.  The Sheriff also said he felt that uniforms would be a good, proactive way of keeping gang activity to a minimum.

The objections I heard from the majority were:

  1. Poor kids can’t afford them. Osceola is the poorest county in Florida and they were able to do it.  Both principals talked how they had a “closet” for those who couldn’t afford “uniforms”.  I am sure our Education Foundation and civic clubs will step up and help.
  2. Uniforms didn’t work because parents opted out.   Osceola doesn’t allow opt outs except for religious reasons.  Tommy Hilfiger is not a religion.
  3. It will take too much time and energy to vet.  We have bigger issues.  I suggest that safety is important and the uniform issue has been vetted.  The survey done two years ago from the parents showed that they were for uniforms, though only by a narrow margin at the high school level.  It would take little time to send the same questions out electronically.  My guess it will show that uniforms have gained in popularity, as more and more school districts have adopted or are adopting them.  A board member from Indian River I met said they would start next year.  It seems to be the trend and I think we owe it to our kids to get to it sooner than later.

To minimize the time and effort to vet, I propose that we have one large meeting at Leesburg HS which has our largest auditorium on a Tuesday or Thursday night in April.  Osceola passed their uniform dress policy on April 15, 2008 for August 2008, and the retailers had no problem gearing up.  We would open with Osceola’s presentation, take public input, discuss it amongst ourselves, and then vote.  As far as getting the word out about the one meeting, I have supreme confidence in our press – TV and print.

Jim Miller makes a very convincing case for uniforms, and there is evidence within an hour of Lake County that uniforms can make a difference in a school with an extremely tough learning environment.

The question for us is simple:  Do parents and school board members who oppose uniforms really want discipline in Lake County Schools?  Any organized body that requires discipline such as the military, law enforcement, and professional sports have strict uniform requirements.  Doesn’t that suggest how vital uniforms are to discipline?  Oddly enough, the male school board members, Jim Miller and Tod Howard, appear to be supporting uniforms while the female school board members, Debbie Stivender, Kyleen Fischer, and Rosanne Brandeburg appear to be reluctant.  Could it be so simple that the females are more concerned about girls’ fashion instead of safety?  Tell us what you think – do you agree or not?

The Right Side of the Lake is a publication of Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C., and if you would like to comment on today’s column please go to our website www.lakecountygov.info or www.therightsideofthelake.com.  This newsletter is free to all who would like to subscribe, and we encourage you to send it out to everyone on your mailing list.  If you have information or a topic you would like us to cover please email us directly at lakecountygov@lakecountygov.info.

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13 Responses to “Do Parents Really Want Discipline in Schools?”

  1. And makes snide references to blog remarks concerning Hitler, Birthers and such. Please do not forget to celebrate the national holiday tomorrow which is held annually in honor of those like you! Also, if you ave any friends who share your convictions prehaps you should remind them it’s their holiday as well! Enjoy tomorrow. Party Hearty!

  2. It is a good thing youth breeds ignorance! Unfortunately sometimes those youth never develop mentally. That’s where that old saying ignorance is bliss comes from! Tiberius Claudius Nero, The Emperor of Rome comes to mind. As Rome burned he sat and fiddled! Well nit wits guess what, the USA is burning right now and all some of you can do is lie, lie and lie some more!

    As for Beck, in case you are not intelligent enough to read, his entertainment espouses documented facts. It takes hard work to follow him, much like homework at real school. it’s too much trouble for idiots. Perhaps he should provide executive summaries for idiots!

    What will you do when you are faced so horribly with the facts and lies can no longer cover them up?

    You’ll be scared to death, that’s what you will do! Your pea brains can not absorb the facts!

  3. Name says:

    Good Lord.

    Hitler, uniforms and a birther all rolled into one.

    How nuts do we have to get here before you all realize that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are only entertainers trying to whip up small minds and make a big pay check.


  4. I would guess that more conservatives would be in favor of the uniforms than would liberal Obama fans. Something as simple as neat polo shirts with kakhis or jeans doesn’t seem so oppressive as to outweigh the benefits. A little structure is beneficial to adolescence. As a parent, I welcome the policy. As a voter, I choose conservatives.

  5. Millions of people with your brillience perished at the hands of Adolph Hitler simply because they though it was ridiculous that he could be planning their annihilation!

    I suppose someone like you would also never suspect Obama might be a Muslim and assisting his brotherhood in the overthrowing of non-Muslim controlled nations. And for sure never suspect that just because he refuses to provide a legal birth certificate he might be hiding something, perhaps the locaton of his birth? Or perhaps the real name of his father!

    They say ignorance is bliss! Its still hard for people with brains to realize how 65 years after General Eisenhower told his people to go out into the villages and bring Germans with camera’s and shovels and such to help them document and bury the victims of Hitler’s attrocities that Eisenhower was right all along when he said someday some SOB will deny this ever happened!

    Which is worse, deny it ever happened or spew your stupidity in an effort to stop those who are suspicious of all things re-occurring that resemble the beginnings of the Holocaust?

    I prefer to use my old boy scout motto! Be Prepared! I refuse to wallow in the stupidity of others!

  6. Name says:

    Uniforms have many advantages including better school security.

    To the person comparing this to Nazi Germany, get real. You are being just plain ridiculous.

  7. Bob Huffstetler – Are you the son of the Lake County Judge who become Circuit judge and went over to the west coast Huffstetler and hum, boat with wackey weed onboard? That got covered up real good? Just wondering, Some of you folks just keep popping up and spreading your ways of life. Guess you think wackey weed should be legal too! I don’t want my kids dressed for socialism and I sure don’t want the wackey weed legalized!

  8. Hitler Youth!

    Ronni, you and Robert are not old enough to have wore uniforms unless you were in a Catholic School! There certainly were no public schools around here that didn’t no better after WW2! Because we learned a lesson from Adolph Hitler! Now Jim Miller would rather cave in to the national socialist movement than support discipline in schools! We need dress codes and rules and regulations for these kids to learn to follow, whether they or their parents like it or not!

    On the night of January 30, 1933, Nazis in Berlin celebrated the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany by conducting massive torchlight parades. Hitler Youth units were among those in the columns passing under the watchful gaze of Hitler and Paul von Hindenburg, the elderly president of Germany.

    Within two months, Hitler acquired dictatorial powers resulting from the Enabling Act passed by the Nazi-controlled Reichstag. Hitler’s acquisition of power meant the Hitler Youth and all other Nazi organizations now had the official power of the State on their side. The period of Nazi Gleichschaltung (forced coordination) immediately began in which all German institutions and organizations were either Nazified or disbanded. Hitler Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach now sought to eliminate all 400 of the other competing youth organizations, large and small, throughout Germany.

    On April 3, 1933, Schirach sent fifty Hitler Youths storming into the Berlin offices of the Reichs Committee of German Youth Associations, an organization representing nearly six million German children involved a huge array of youth programs. Staff members inside the building were told to continue working and were simply informed they were now under the authority of the Hitler Youth. Thus the majority of Germany’s youth organizations had instantly been placed under Schirach’s control.

    The only major holdout was the Catholic Youth Organization due in part to the international clout of the Church and an agreement (Concordat) that had been signed between the Vatican and Hitler’s government protecting Catholic institutions in Germany. In Catholic sections of Germany, high ranking Nazis could still be found at Sunday mass along with groups of Hitler Youths in uniform and Hitler Youths serving at the altar wearing their uniforms beneath altar boy robes.

    On June 17, 1933, Hitler promoted Schirach to Jugendführer des Deutschen Reiches (Youth Leader of Germany). Schirach was now answerable only to Hitler, with all youth activities in Germany placed under Schirach’s sole command. In July, Schirach dissolved the old Reich’s Committee of German Youth Associations since it no longer served any purpose.

    Schirach soon introduced a new structure to the Hitler Youth based on age. Little boys aged 6 to 10 were allowed to hang around the older boys and participate informally. Boys 10 to 14 belonged to the Jungvolk, then from 14 to 18 were in the actual HJ, the commonly used abbreviation for Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth). Each boy was given a performance booklet detailing his progress in athletics and Nazi indoctrination throughout all of his years in the HJ.
    Girls 10 to 14 joined the Jungmädel and from 14 to 18 belonged to the BDM, the commonly used abbreviation for Bund Deutcher Mädel (League of German Girls). They wore a schoolgirl-style uniform with skirts and blouses along with army-style hiking boots.
    However, the Hitler Youth organization was primarily male oriented and would remain so throughout the duration of the Third Reich.

    So, now you know the history of school uniforms! It is said a vast majority of US citizens are totally ignorant. I see them driving on the road everyday! The most ignorant are those who are educated beyond their Intelligence! When it comes to survival those who claim to know everything always seem to perish. Those who are dumb and uneducated and know no better than live off the earth are the real survivors! Which one do you want telling you what they know!

    When all children dress alike they lose their independant personallities and self worth! They become one of many and for Ronni who say’s school is a place to learn and not a fashion show!
    Let me correct you! School is a place to learn as well as a place to develop ones personal attributes and personalities and blossom innto an individual. If you want your children and grandchildren to be raised in a Nazi like regime, find you one of those off the wall terriorist training camps! I for one want my children to be educated in public school under the protection of the Constitution of the United States Of America! Those who feel otherwise should take Obama and go back to Kenya with him!

  9. Splinter Head

    Right about when ol 2×4 starts making cents, he fires up the table saw and reduces himself down to a measly splinter. As Boss puts it, “How dare you” insult us in discussing school uniforms. We have bigger problems than clothing at the moment. School uniforms are about a # 20 on the list of things to set right in the Lake County School system. To put it kindly, its not that important at the moment. Is this a diversion from the reality of corruption?

    Discipline, you better believe we need discipline in the schools. However, children follow in the footsteps of the grown ups. (Some) of the leaders in the school system need a little discipline in the form of a spanking or eviction. Now there are a limited number of these, Lord knows our hats go off to most of the personnel responsible for our children and grandchildren. But there are several dozens that I know of you need their britches tightened. Two of which need incarceration. But now Jim Miller wouldn’t know anything about that would he. One would think a school board member who has a wife as a judge would have a handle on things right out of the gate. Guess not. Husband is just like wife.

    Security, the lack of. Lake ranks in the bottom on security. Breached faster than a 12 gauge on opening day. Momma knows so don’t go against me on this. Splinter Head, maybe you can get with Miller high life and see if he would commence in developing new policies for the entire school board employees including administration, especially administration, and instill a yearly checkup on that tiny little thing we innocent folks call a criminal background search. I know, I know, (1) they’re aren’t any outstanding criminals working for the school board, (2) there isn’t any money to run those checks even if we did because we have ½ a billion in bond debt, (3) and the employees union would never agree to it.

    (1) Really….wanna bet!
    (2) Absolutely right so call Scott he’ll make it happen. DO NOT CALL
    (3) Mandatory issued. Write it in policy. If denied, your fired.
    Personnel. With all of the corruption and closed door raises to the upper command in the Lake County School system these days, do you think that might have a bearing on personnel? Maybe a little more important issue to discuss than uniforms? Maybe we can discuss how personnel have not received raises in years? Maybe discuss in further detail how some of the recent boondoggles (Borrowed from Vance) have occurred and what has been done to reduce a repeat of the Board and the Administration fluently spending tax payers dollars on retreats. Could it be that maybe the personnel who actually bust their behinds everyday would rather discuss a raise, or the security of their job, or maybe how the Board is making preparations on how they will survive financially with the outstanding bond debt. Perhaps how the entire upper management and Board are preparing to take a 10% cut in pay to show their support for these difficult times.

    Qualifications. Out of the 5 current Board members, there is not one qualified individual in this mix who can make cutting edge decisions in a uniformed, educated, and decisive manner regarding our school systems future. Incompetence describes it best. These fiscal rejects couldn’t count the number of toes they have let alone develop a budget worth having. For goodness sake, we are hear today discussing UNIFORMS! Wake up! Where are our business leaders in this county. Get on Board and get us out from under this rock with meaningful discussions besides fashion.

    Gangs. The Boundaries of Green Isle aka Borders needs to clean up his gang first before running off of the mouth. Lets start with gang members;
    Myers, Stone, Taylor, Belton, Peyton, and Piper. That’s just a start and the bedroom door hasn’t even opened.

    Splinter Head, lets have a more meaningful conversation about things that really matter in today’s climate before another wind blows and you turn to sawdust. We need this county cleansed from deceit, corruption and arrogance. With that, discipline and order will fall into place with ease. Prosperity returns and peace with harmony is discovered once again.
    The only uniforms that should be currently discussed is how many and what size for the criminals within Lake County government including the School Board.

    Grannie B

  10. School uniforms, besides the obvious advantage of saving money (and the time savings in the morning getting ready) puts all the kids on a level playing field as it relates to appearance. There is no pressure to display the proper brand or look, and it benefits the learning process by eliminating one more distraction. I am all for uniforms, they have worked wonders for my kids (and me and my wife).

  11. It is just an excuse parents use to not have to take a stand. Kids seem to rule the parents these days. Well it is time we stand up for the kids and make uniforms the norm. The facts stand for themselves. I have a grandson in Osceola school he too did not like the idea at first but has changed his mind over the years. You see by the amount of parents that attend school work shops and school board meetings, “they don’t care, can’t seem to be bothered to attend” I say YES to Uniforms and would love to hear the arguments made by the ladies on the board.

  12. I wore school uniforms from 1st thru 8th grade. I wasn’t happy with that at the time. There were 4 children and not a lot of money. It saved my parents money by not having to buy us a large variety of clothes. When I went to High School it was apparent what kids had money – because they wore the name brand clothes – it caused clicks – I was in the middle class so it wasn’t so bad – the kids that were the poorest suffered the most they were teased and it caused anger. Kids are sometimes very mean – lets give every kid the chance to be judged on who they are not what they have.
    I am all for uniforms – school is a place to learn not a fashion show.

  13. Charles says:

    I am in construction, and just move from Lake County due to lack of work. The daughter was attending Tavares Middle. Not she attends Storm Grove Middle, which is a uniform school. Uniforms cost too much? That is funny. I had a $400 budget each year for my kid’s back to school clothes. And it was tough to get enough clothes for a week on that budget. Now at the new school, I was able to purchase 5 complete uniforms for under $100. Whoever thinks uniforms are unaffordable probably does not have kids.

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