Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/23/1995 08:05 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 agenda. 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 then. 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 objected. 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.