School Superintendent Rudy Crew Seeks Uniformity
Miami-Dade County’s new school superintendent drew standing applause at his first major speaking engagement here when he told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce that he wants youngsters to go to school in uniforms, to face a uniform standard for reading ability and to uniformly be prepared to face the world of work.
"Children are confused right now about the value of work," Rudolph F. Crew told the chamber’s board of governors and trustees luncheon in a short talk last week at the Radisson Hotel Miami. The schools, he said, need to help provide them "a moral center and the ability to see themselves as contributors to their community."
He highlighted core values that he thinks need to be found in both the classroom and the home – values he plans to put at the forefront of his work that began July 1.
One of those values needs to be building self worth, he said, and not allow children to make the mistake of believing that "they are what they wear."
Talking of the current fad of dragging pants, he said, "We have to set rules to follow. "We have to say, no, you can’t come to school like that."
"I’m a proponent of uniforms" for pupils in elementary schools, he told the hundreds of chamber members and guests, and of a dress standard in high school that does not allow children to be judged by how expensive their sneakers are.
"There is a rule about life, and part of schooling is that you must learn the rules of the road" in dress as well as in class, he said.
When Dr. Crew was chancellor of schools for New York City from 1995 to 1999 he was also a proponent of school uniforms. In May he chose to take the job as head of Miami-Dade’s 360,000-student system, the nation’s fourth largest, in preference to an offer from the 64,200-pupil District of Columbia system.
He met nods of approval from business leaders as he told the chamber that one of his goals is to teach personal literacy, showing youngsters how to be a member of a community.
When schooling is finished, he said, students must first of all be able to read – all on the same level, rather than having a higher standard for affluent children and a lower one for everyone else. Beyond that, he said that when students leave school they must have the skills needed for gainful employment and must know how to get a job – including how to dress in the world of work.
Asked what the chamber could do to help him reclaim funds that the Legislature cut from the county’s schools in the just-concluded session, he said schools need to make internal improvements and fixes before they ask for outside help. Then, he said, he would ask the chamber leaders to go with him to Tallahassee to seek replacement of financial cuts that he said will reach $58 million to $65 million annually.
"We have to do a better job of using our resources" before asking for more, he said. "There’s some tightening we have to do."
Once that’s done, he said, he’ll seek help from the chamber: "I’m not going to be shy about asking."