Several years ago, the Baltimore City School System decided that individual schools, if they wish, may require students to wear uniforms. Uniforms increase a sense of community among students, create a neat appearance, and reduce competition over clothing styles. While well intended, uniform policies had an unintended consequence—reducing regular attendance
OSI-Baltimore and our grantees recently worked to create “A-GAME Teams” of students who work within their own high schools to identify barriers to attendance and encourage their peers to show up to school every day. These students identified major issues with uniform policy:
- They are too expensive or only available in select and out of the way locations.
- Students who changed schools frequently because of their families’ housing instability were unable to keep up with different uniform requirements.
- Some schools required girls to wear skirts, forbidding the option of pants.
Worse, school staff frequently sent home students who showed up to school with incomplete uniforms.
Our A-GAME Teams met with City Schools CEO Andrés Alonso to tell him about the impact uniform policies were having on attendance. Partnering with another OSI-Baltimore funded initiative—The Attendance Collaborative, which also aims to increase regular school attendance in Baltimore—and the ACLU of Maryland, an OSI-Baltimore grantee, A-GAME students developed a new uniform policy adopted by City Schools for the 2012-2013 school year.
OSI-Baltimore continues to identify and tear down barriers that keep kids from going to school. More kids in school every day means more kids graduating and going to college or entering the workforce, making Baltimore a better place for all of us.
Join us in making real change.