Uniforms, Prayer in Public Schools?

A Highland Park mom is pushing for uniforms, prayer in public schools. (I had to check several times to make sure it was New Jersey–there’s a Highland Park in Illinois and one in Texas and others, too).

Here’s the story:

HIGHLAND PARK — Parent Karen Blount-Torres is saying “Enough.”

The Highland Park resident said the rising incidence of sexual harrassment in New Jersey schools has gotten to her.

And she wants to do something about it.

She started a signature drive for a petition to introduce uniforms and prayer into the New Jersey school system — as a solution to the problem.

Blount-Torres said the recent incident in South Brunswick, where a teacher was allegedly involved with a student, was the last straw.

‘I’m simply tired, there’s so much mess going on in the world,” she said.

The 38-year-old mother of three children, who are in the school system, said she looks back to the old days when she was a student and prayer was a part of school.

She said reintroducing a common prayer that does not offend any religion will help the students and staff realize their purpose in school and focus on it.

She also strongly believes that a uniform system would require students to cover up and bring back standards and principles to the system.

Uniforms for students will ensure that “the staff can identify them as children and not adults.” It would also save money for parents, she said.

Blount-Torres, who has served on the Parent Advisory board for Highland Park High School and on the PTO committee board, said she has seen firsthand how the clothes worn by the students can be distracting.

‘The prayers and uniforms will keep both staff and students safe,” she said.

A week ago, she started a signature drive, getting people throughout Middlesex County to sign a petition that asks to include prayer and uniform in the school system.

She has been out at barber shops, diners, stores, Dunkin Donuts, Sam’s Club and other stores. Her efforts have led to a record 700 signatures in the first week itself.

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9 thoughts on “Uniforms, Prayer in Public Schools?

  • I can understand dress code; it even seems to be getting necessary in some schools, particularly in summer but I’m not sure we need to go as far as uniform. As for prayer in public schools… I wonder what they mean by “will keep both staff and students safe”.
    How do the non-Christian communities react to that?

  • Ilana-Davita, I’m fascinated that you are the first to read this post. An American, especially one who lives in Highland Park, will find the whole proposal laughable. Or maybe not? She got 700 signatures. Maybe it’s a sign that the one-size-fits-all public school system in America is just not working. I certainly fail to see how school prayer and uniforms are going to help with social issues.

    If there’s any more on this story, I’ll post it.

  • Well, my official working day is over so I’m browsing the web before moving up to something else.
    Here the separation between “church and state” is very strict. So much so that you have to be careful about what you say in class concerning your religious beliefs; this also applies to political beliefs. So much so that a Jewish friend was amazed at my boldness when I told her I wanted to read a story about Chanukah, by Isaac bashevis Singer, with my students although my intention was cultural, linguistic and even grammatical not religious.

  • Search engines don’t pick up links in comments. But the comments do go into search engines. I just did a search on your username within my blog, and sure enough, your comments are in Google.

    There is so much information out there, however, that someone would have to want to find out where you are posting comments.

  • Except that my user name has nothing to do (not even remotely) with my real name.
    I don’t think I ever use my real name online. I guess I did so once or twice more than four years ago.
    As I was starting to get neurotic about this, I’ve just tried my real name and have found about five occurrences that actually link to me (one very empty Facebook page – with the two names of some friends’ kids who added me to their long lists, one Amazon wish list, one film review on The Guardian online and finally my name on a petition to free Gilad Shalit and on a teachers’ list).

  • I can see a call for a moment of silence in schools, during which people may pray silently if they wish. But it is impossible to come up with a prayer that doesn’t offend somebody – if it is so generic the atheists and agnostics will accept it, it will be considered a mockery by the more religious.

  • Larry, yes, and Highland Park has enough vocal atheists and agnostics that I doubt this will go anywhere. I’m wondering who are the 700 signatories.

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