Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/23/1995 08:05 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 Number 177                                                                    
 HSTA - 2/23/95                                                                
 HB 30 - SCHOOL DRESS CODES                                                  
 Chair James announced that HB 30 would be the next bill on the                
 ELIZABETH ROBERTS, Legislative Aide to bill sponsor Representative          
 Bettye Davis, said she wanted to point out that this bill was                 
 totally optional and not mandatory on the public.  She stated that            
 many educators believe school dress significantly influences                  
 student behavior and the adoption of an optional school dress code            
 is a reasonable and economical way to provide some protection for             
 students without having to take teachers away from their normal               
 duties to act as monitors and policemen.  She did not think this              
 bill would affect rural students at all.  Ms. Roberts said the idea           
 behind this bill was that as gang behavior creeps up from the lower           
 48 states, our students become increasingly endangered.  If an                
 optional school uniform code can help to protect these students, it           
 is an easy and economical way to do that.  She said that every                
 parent could choose to leave their child out of the program.  Every           
 school board could choose whether to adopt such a uniform dress               
 code.  She thought that probably the principal, the school board              
 and the parents would get together to decide whether to adopt this            
 program.  She thought this bill would help to engender school                 
 spirit, as she said had been the case in Long Beach California who            
 had such a policy.  She thought that having this option available             
 in state statutes would help to allow school boards and eventually            
 single site management schools to make their own decision.                    
 CHAIR JAMES verified that parents could opt to not have their                 
 children participate in the program.                                          
 MS. ROBERTS confirmed that this was the case.                                 
 CHAIR JAMES said she failed to see the benefits for doing this                
 MS. ROBERTS stated that most children were influenced by their                
 peers and if most children were wearing the uniform, then she                 
 thought those children would want to also.  She said this was also            
 a very inexpensive way to dress children and take away some of the            
 elitism of expensive clothing, such as the $200 tennis shoes.                 
 Number 236                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if she was familiar with the experience           
 of Long Beach, California's dress code.                                       
 MS. ROBERTS said she did not know how it was working, just that               
 they had done it.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked what had they done.                               
 MS. ROBERTS replied that they had made it mandatory, that students            
 must wear school uniforms.                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated that if there were no other                    
 questions, she would move to pass this bill out of committee.                 
 CHAIR JAMES commented that she had mixed feelings on this bill, but           
 the part she did like, was that it would give schools another tool            
 to manage their students.  She said the problem was that even if              
 students are dressing alike, they still do not look alike.  She               
 said she did not know whether she supported this bill or not, but             
 that the mission of the State Affairs Committee was to determine              
 whether there would be a statewide impact.  She added that she had            
 talked to the Chair of the Health Education and Social Services               
 committee, who agreed to explore some of these deeper issues there.           
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER thought that this would be an interesting               
 discussion in the HESS Committee and added that it was his                    
 understanding that schools in the Anchorage area could already ban            
 the wearing of gang colors.  He said that to the extent this bill             
 was trying to deal with the issue of gangs, there was one tool out            
 there already.                                                                
 MS. ROBERTS responded that she knew that East High School in                  
 Anchorage had banned the wearing of L.A. Raiders jackets, but that            
 she did not know if they had gone further.                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied that as he understood it, they did              
 have the ability though.  He said the benefit of this approach was            
 that it was optional, and did allow for individual schools to make            
 that decision for themselves.                                                 
 Number 322                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated he was going to vote against this bill,            
 although he did not have a problem with the banning of individual             
 colors.  He said that at least according to Representative Porter,            
 Anchorage schools already had this ability, and so he saw this as             
 an unfunded state mandate on the municipalities.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated she needed to get a better sense of            
 what tool this bill would be actually giving to schools and that              
 she had mixed feelings about this bill.  She said she would like to           
 look into seeing how schools could empower students in the decision           
 making process.                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES agreed, saying this why she had talked with the Chair             
 of the HESS Committee because, at this point, all they could do was           
 to insert their own personal feelings and not fact.  Thus, she was            
 willing to pass it to the HESS Committee to explore these                     
 educational issues more thoroughly.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved to pass HB 30 to the next committee               
 with individual recommendations, and a zero fiscal note.                      
 CHAIR JAMES asked if there was an objection.  Representative Ogan             
 A roll call vote was taken.  Representatives Willis, Robinson,                
 Porter, and James voted in favor of moving the bill.                          
 Representative Ogan voted against moving the bill.  So the bill was           
 passed from committee.                                                        

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