During a debate in Danny Dudley’s government class at Eagle Valley Middle School over potential school uniforms, teacher Brian Wallace challenged his students to do more than just argue their ideas.
So Danny, 14, started a petition to oppose the proposal to require students to wear uniforms at Carson High School next year.
“The Supreme Court ruling of Tinker vs. Des Moines clearly states that unless a school administration can prove that the clothing worn by students will disrupt the school environment, they cannot censor student expression,” he wrote in his petition. “Uniforms censor student expression.”
Danny, with help from his 12-year-old brother, Jack, has spent his lunch hour and other breaks collecting signatures on his petition. He gave a copy to Austin Schofield, a friend at Carson Middle School, to pass around there. Together, they collected more than 350 signatures, and presented the petition Tuesday to members of the Carson City School Board. Danny plans to present it to Carson High School officials today.
“I hope that since I’m getting so many signatures, it will get their attention and keep it,” Danny said.
The petition calls on Carson High School officials to shoot down a proposal to institute a standard student attire there. While the look of the attire has not been discussed, it is assumed it will resemble those of the middle and elementary schools, which require specific colors of slacks and polo shirts.
Carson High School Principal Ron Beck told parents at a community meeting last week that the uniforms were not in response to the dress code. Instead, he said, they were aimed at keeping the school safer by making it easier to identify students from potential trespassers.
In his petition, Danny counters that logic.
“Uniforms do not increase school safety; an invader can buy a polo, and walk right past school officials,” he wrote. “There are many more ways to increase the safety of a school.”
He also counters other arguments made in favor of uniforms.
“Uniforms do not level an economic playing field; students still own iPhones, designer clothes, expensive backpacks and accessories,” he wrote. “And if uniforms increase test scores, show us the results from (Eagle Valley Middle School) and (Carson Middle School) that prove this.
“For these reasons, we are emphatically against (Carson High School) initiating any type of standard student attire.”
Danny’s mother, Danielle, said she supported his decision to create the petition. While she’s not necessarily opposed to uniforms, she said, she opposes the process the schools have followed in implementing them. By the time the public is involved, she said, it seems the decision has already been made, and town-hall meetings are just a formality.
“It’s the dishonesty that bothers me,” she said. “It seems like it’s going to happen no matter what we say. I would love to have a real survey of all the students and parents.”
School officials say those surveys will be conducted before a decision is made by May.