Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/15/1996 09:10 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
                   HB  30 SCHOOL DRESS CODES                                  
                                                                              
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:10 a.m. and introduced                
 HB 30  as the first order of business before the committee.                   
                                                                               
 JONATHAN SPERBER, Staff to Representative Bettye Davis, read the              
 following sponsor statement:                                                  
                                                                               
 HB 30 would provide an important discretionary tool for school                
 districts to use in improving the health and safety of students and           
 teachers.  The bill is supported by the Association of Alaska                 
 School Boards, the Anchorage School District and the Kodiak Island            
 Borough School District.                                                      
                                                                               
 HB 30 is a response to gang-related behavior.  Gangs in Alaska, as            
 in the lower 48, use clothing to communicate.  In the Kodiak                  
 schools, for example, there have been violent fights involving                
 weapons as a result of who is wearing what colors.  Uniforms go a             
 long way toward providing a neutral coat of arms for children whose           
 clothing might otherwise make them targets.                                   
                                                                               
 The president of the Association of Alaska School Boards has said             
 that:                                                                         
                                                                               
  To address some of the manifestations of these problems,                     
  schools must be given the tools to establish policies which                  
  promote optimum educational environments and protect the                     
  health and safety of kids and teachers.  In our opinion, HB 30               
  does this.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Adopting a school uniform policy would be voluntary under HB 30.              
 Additionally, parents would have the ability to exclude their                 
 children from wearing uniforms.  It has been the experience of                
 school districts in other states, however, that few students have             
 chosen to opt out of these very successful programs.                          
                                                                               
 In Charleston County, S.C., for example, where nearly half the                
 public schools have adopted voluntary uniform policies, educators             
 praise their leveling, egalitarian effect.  The students take pride           
 in their studies, viewing school as a place of work rather than               
 just somewhere to hang out with friends.                                      
                                                                               
 In Long Beach, Cal. school district, which includes 56 elementary             
 and 14 middle schools, adopting a school uniform policy reduced               
 physical fights by 51%, assault and battery cases by 34%, and                 
 suspensions by 32%.  In a recent nationwide survey of 5,500                   
 secondary school principals, 70% said they believe uniforms would             
 reduce violence.                                                              
                                                                               
 HB 30 also requires that a school district, in order to require               
 students to wear uniforms, must first determine that financial                
 resources are available to assist economically disadvantaged                  
 students.  It has been the experience of many parents that                    
 providing three uniforms per year for a child is far less expensive           
 than purchasing fashionable clothing.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 061                                                                    
                                                                               
 PAUL BERG, a 5th grade teacher at Glacier Valley School, informed             
 the committee that he had been a teacher in Alaska for 19 years.              
 He said that America's youth are in trouble.  The U.S. is topping             
 the charts in youth violence, suicide, teenage pregnancy, drug use,           
 and anti-social behavior.  This is an American cultural phenomena             
 which is supported in his investigations.  Mr. Berg informed the              
 committee that he does investigative searches for many                        
 publications.                                                                 
                                                                               
 Mr. Berg identified the following assumptions in American education           
 and the rearing of adolescents that appear to be flawed:                      
                                                                               
  *Adolescents should be left alone, so much is happening to                   
   them that adult influence is not necessary.                                 
  *Place little pressure from the adult world on adolescents                   
   because it may damage the children.                                         
  *Do not hold adolescents accountable academically or through                 
   criminal codes.                                                             
                                                                               
 Mr. Berg indicated that the children realize these assumptions.               
 This is facilitating youth dysfunction.  In cultures without the              
 problems or adolescent dysfunction experienced in America, two                
 basic patterns.  The first pattern of these other cultures is to              
 integrate the adolescent into the adult world very quickly.  For              
 example, in the area of Lausanne the adolescent is part of the                
 family and village economy by the time the adolescent is 14 years             
 old.  The adolescent is embraced by the adult society.  Therefore,            
 the trauma of becoming an adult is not experienced to the level as            
 in the U.S.  In more advanced industrial societies that do not                
 experience trauma in becoming an adult, another pattern is                    
 illustrated.  The adult world places much pressure, academic and              
 social, on the adolescent which is the opposite philosophy of that            
 in the U.S.  Frequently, these adolescents are required to wear               
 uniforms.  Uniforms are the extension of the adult world.  Mr. Berg           
 supported HB 30.  Uniforms are needed as a tool.                              
                                                                               
 Number 147                                                                    
                                                                               
 NANCY BUELL, Department of Education, said that the department has            
 no strong point of view.  The State Principals Association is also            
 neutral on this bill and does not foresee any difficulty in                   
 enforcing this.                                                               
                                                                               
 CARL ROSE, Alaska Association of School Boards, supported HB 30.              
 He discussed his visit with a Close-Up group recently in which                
 HB 30 was discussed.  If there is an opportunity to create a                  
 positive environment in schools with dress codes and input from the           
 community, that would positively reflect on the children as well.             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN brought up the issue of backpacks in the Anchorage             
 school district.  She inquired as to the will of the committee.               
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO moved that HB 30 be reported out of committee with               
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so                  
 ordered.                                                                      

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