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Students protest mandatory uniforms proposed for Marysville middle schools

MARYSVILLE Students are complaining about a mandatory uniform policy proposed for middle schools next year in the Marysville School District.
Parents and staff at Marysville Junior High School proposed the specific dress policy last month before the Marysville School Board but backed off after complaints from members of the Tulalip Tribes.
Tribal students only attend the junior high, which will be called Totem Middle School next year. They felt it would be better to start the dress code at all three middle schools and board members told staff to talk about the idea.
But students at the junior high are not happy with the proposal, and several wrote letters to The Globe last week protesting the mandatory uniform policy.
The preliminary idea is to have kids wear a polo shirt with the school name embroidered on the front, paired with khaki pants. Since Totem is split into three smaller schools they might be able to choose different colors, but its not clear what Cedarcrest and Marysville middle schools would allow.
A committee of parents visited several other schools with uniform policies and found more learning achievement and less discipline problems at those locations. They also said a policy would make the State Avenue campus safer, as intruders would readily stand out from the student body.
Kyle Wilkins is a ninth-grader at the junior high school and isnt buying any of it. He said kids arent made from cookie cutters and should be allowed some individuality. His parents back him up.
Every kid has a right to be different and some kids express the way they feel through their clothes and stuff, Wilkins said. Im afraid because a bunch of kids will try to look different and will get in trouble for trying to be different and I dont really think thats right.
He said he wears normal clothes, i.e. blue jeans and T-shirts, but doesnt go in for the dark Goth look with eyeliner and hair dyed black. But he knows many students who do, and they are just fine. Thats simply how they express themselves, he said, adding that there is nothing wrong with them. He disputed the findings by a committee of mothers who said uniforms keep the focus on learning.
Wilkins mom was squarely behind her son. A library assistant, Joan Wilkins said the uniform issue was a dodge for other areas the district needs to focus on. Social stratification starts early, even in elementary years, and wont be remedied quickly, she said.
Kids will find a way to be different and I dont necessarily agree with the dress code, Wilkins said. And if they think its going to be some kind of equalizer, kids are always going to find a way to be different and why not express themselves through clothing. I mean, they already have clothing guidelines that or acceptable or unacceptable and the kids will find a way to work around it one way or the other.
Findings at the Bethel School District all pointed to increased academic success, according to the advisory committee. Wilkins said the district would need more than polo shirts to make a difference on a students transcript.
I dont necessarily buy that, she said, noting that a few years back the focus was on learning styles. I think they need to focus on how kids are going to learn. I think that some of the basic things kids need are being ignored or being overlooked.
The school board will heard a revised policy at its April 30 meeting see related story.

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