Unified Dress Code is Being Considered at Pinkerton

A concept called the Unified Dress Code will be part of the conversation in a parents’ meeting to be held Thursday, Sept. 26 at Pinkerton Academy.
The Unified Dress Code is being considered by Pinkerton for the 2014-15 school year and beyond. The policy, if adopted, will give students and teachers more time to focus on academics and may level the financial playing field for parents, according to Headmaster Mary Anderson and Dean of Students Glenn Ahrens.

Anderson emphasized that the Unified Dress Code is not a uniform. “A uniform,” she said, “is what it is.” The Unified Dress Code gives students more choices, as long as their choices are appropriate for school.
“Right now we do have a dress code,” Ahrens said. “But this would be narrower.”
The Unified Dress Code would allow what Anderson calls “parallel choices.” The school would designate a selection of clothing and students could choose their colors within that range of options. What they’re looking at are khaki pants, skirts, “skorts” and shorts of an appropriate length, along with polo shirts or button-down shirts. The students would be free to select colors and accessorize. The concept is similar to “business casual,” Anderson and Ahrens said.
Ahrens added that unlike a uniform, these are clothes the students could wear at other times and in other places.
Hoodies have no place in the Unified Dress Code, Anderson said, adding, “We want to see the kids’ faces.”
Denim is also out, although they are considering dress-down days where students would be able to wear appropriate jeans. The staff has a Dress Down for Charity day every other Friday, Anderson said.
“Denim,” Ahrens said, “will be our biggest hurdle.”
But it’s worth it, he and Anderson agreed. They have done extensive research on the concept, and Anderson said it would save time, time that could be spent on academics. “As an administrator,” she said, “I am concerned with the amount of time we spend speaking with students about appropriate dress. There are so many other things teachers can spend their time on.”
The Unified Dress Code will also make life easier for parents, Anderson said. “It takes the ‘guesswork’ away. They won’t have so many calls at 10 a.m. telling them to come and get their child. With the clothes we choose, there will be no confusion.”
The majority of students do conform to the current dress code, Ahrens said. “But there are always some that will push the limit.”
Research has shown that the Unified Dress Code has several benefits, Anderson said. It improves student behavior, self-esteem and pride. It increases the focus on learning. And either a uniform or a Unified Dress Code removes the obvious differences between students of different economic backgrounds.
It also contributes to school safety, Anderson said. “If we see someone not wearing approved clothing, we know immediately that person doesn’t belong on campus.”
Anderson did a short survey of parents this past spring, with two questions:
1. A Unified Dress Code would likely provide benefits described by Pinkerton.
2. As a parent, I would support a Unified Dress Code as described by Pinkerton with options for students, favorable pricing and accommodations for special financial circumstances.
Anderson said 57 percent of the respondents agreed with the first statement and 55 percent with the second.