CAPR was founded by Clifton Parents who were concerned that a discredited 1980's era "Educational Reform" movement was about to impose itself on our children. We looked in to Uniforms, and found that New Jersey State Law make imposing them on public school students quite simple, and resisting them once they were imposed quite difficult- Several court decisions made this a fact that could not be denied. Teacher conferences are often partially funded by Uniform companies, that promote their "improvements" at every opportunity. We could find no supporting evidence for Uniforms as an education or social solution, only as a discredited way to force our Clifton Parents to buy special clothing if they wanted to attend free public school. In addition, New Jersey law is quite clear that the School District would have to provide this clothing to any subsidized children- Giving these programs a built-in consituiency all it's own.
In 2012, we ran a hard-fought campaign against signifcant odds to defeat a Uniform policy in the Clifton Public Schools. The Board of Education members described this policy, in the end, as a "nightmare", because of the depth and strength of community opposition. We thought they had learned a lesson that would last- We were wrong. Three years later they are trying again, with the same underhanded sneaky tactics they used the last time. We will resist, we will win - again.
And we won in 2009 as well- Rejecting a proposed Mandatory Uniform / Standard Dress policy in 2009 due to costs and community opposition. However, it is now 2015 and The Clifton Board of Education is again following the required legal steps to implement a Uniform / Standard Dress policy for the Clifton School District. The parent's group C.A.P.R., or "Clifton Asserting Parental Rights", is a grassroots organization that was formed to be in opposition to the implementation of this policy in Clifton Schools.
The Board of Education is building a position for a new policy that goes far beyond what most people would consider a "Dress Code". This significant change will remove important rights from Clifton parents. We are not opposed to a traditional dress code, which meets most of the stated goals of a Uniform policy without requiring a legal process or stripping Clifton Parents of their rights. A basic dress code does not require a Survey or a Public Forum, as appears to be required for a Uniform program under New Jersey State law.
The Clifton Board of Education has scheduled a Public Meeting on their proposed changes to the Clifton Dress Code for Clifton Schools for May 11th, 2015 at 7PM, at the basement Board of Education Meeting Room, 745 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ. C.A.P.R. strongly encourages all Clifton parents interested in maintaining their parental rights to attend and be heard.
Following this event, only a vote of the Clifton Board of Education will be required to implement the policy for all Clifton Schools. Clifton parents should pay careful attention to how the elected Board of Education members vote on this policy. C.A.P.R. believes that a vote for a Mandatory Uniform / Standard Dress policy is a vote against parental rights. Their next scheduled Regular Board Meeting is 7:00PM May 6th 2015 (Wednesday) in the Board's basement meeting room at the Administration Building, 745 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, N.J. This is followed by a meeting on May 20th, 7:00PM, where the B.O.E. may be reasonably expected to hold a vote on their Uniform proposal.
Once these policies are implemented, Clifton parents will lose their rights over how to dress their children in order for them to receive a public education. Unlike some other states in the nation, New Jersey law does not require an opt-out provision for parents. Religious, philosophical, or medical reasons may be ignored by school administrators and the courts. Other aspects of our children's education such as Home and Family Life Health Curriculum and Internet Access require parental consent by law in order for a child to participate. No such law exists requiring parental consent to Mandatory Uniform / Standard Dress. This leaves parents who do not desire to participate without an alternative option.
In the past, School Uniforms were seen as an indicator of prestige and privledge. This is no longer true. School Uniforms have become the hallmark of troubled Urban distrists, the last refuge of struggling school systems seeking solutions to problems they feel they can no longer control. Schools are one of the primary indicators of a healthy real estate market, and a mandatory uniform policy indicates trouble. Successful districts don't need uniforms. The value of our Clifton homes may be affected by this proposal.
Many children in Clifton Schools may require subsidies to comply with this program, at significant additional expense. There will be unknown new costs for Clifton parents with children in public school. This policy is an extra tax on Clifton parents and taxpayers, in disguise.
There is no evidence that a program of Uniform / Standard Dress has any significant effect on academic performance. In fact many such programs in other parts of the country have failed and are now optional or voluntary. Non-biased studies like those done by Virginia Tech’s Dr. David L. Brunsma indicate that: “The School Uniform movement continues to grow despite research indicating that it doesn't do what it's supposed to.” We believe that Clifton Schools should emphasize academics, instead of embarking on an uncertain program of Mandatory Uniform / Standard Dress. Many school districts with significant issues have studied and rejected these programs. C.A.P.R. is not opposed to a reasonable dress code that includes a variety of appropriate casual clothing, or a purely Voluntary Uniform / Standard Dress request. However, the program proposed by the Clifton Board of Education goes far beyond an ordinary dress code.
Placing an unnecessarily burdensome policy on Clifton parents and children is not appropriate for our suburban town. Our property values may be challenged as prospective homeowner parents find few differences in the Clifton schools system from surrounding areas.
National trends show disturbing changes are being made in these policies once they are put into place. Changes are frequently made in garment requirements, increased compliancy checks distract from academics, and enforcement penalties tend to increase. Across the country school officials are being given extraordinary power over what should be a parental prerogative, without any firm scientific evidence that uniforms enhance learning or discipline.
For more information, and for links to additional sites that offer in-depth analysis of this issue, see the "Learn More" page. Copies of the current 2015 Dress Code survey, our response, and our letter to the Clifton Board of Education can be found on this website.