Updated 05/30/12 – 4:50 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Some Chicago aldermen want the Chicago Public Schools to consider mandating uniforms for students, as a way to eliminate the problem of teenage boys who wear their pants hanging low.
WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the City Council Education Committee has approved a resolution, urging city school officials to consider whether a new school dress code could combat the trend of pants sagging so low, that the wearer’s underwear shows.
Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) said, when uniforms were imposed at Crane Technical Preparatory High School, violence and classroom distractions went down.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports
But Fioretti said he wonders how far the schools can go to ban saggy pants, a style he said emulates street gangs.
“The colors that they wear, the type of jeans that they wear, the underwear that they wear – believe it or not – are all related to certain gangs, and we need to stop the influence of gangs here in the city,” Fioretti said.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), the chief sponsor of the resolution, has been leading the charge to get kids to pull up their pants.
“I want them to know that they can stand to reach the stars, but if they’re reaching down to pull up their pants, they’re missing something here,” Mitts said.
But on the streets, those who wear low-hanging pants said City Council members are missing the point.
Kashawn Johnson said people shouldn’t be punished for wearing saggy pants.
“Not if it’s a free country. This is what we do, this is how we want to dress,” he said.
Reginald Hudson, 18, explained the finer points of sagging with style.
“You know, if you have a special belt on, you want to sag it a little bit, show your belt off, your belt buckle. Or if you got expensive draws (underwear) on,” he said. “The generation nowadays, you know, everybody wants you to know what they’re wearing nowadays.”
Mitts said students should not be emulating the styles of street gangs.
“We’re gonna have to put some education and start doing something about this now, so that our children won’t be walking around with their pants hanging down, and not doing what they’re supposed to do in school – and that’s learn,” Mitts added.
Aldermen said they want to draw the line at visible underwear, but enforcement won’t be easy.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said, “We can look at it like jaywalking. That’s a very tough issue to enforce, but yet it is enforced periodically.”
The young, however, see sagging pants as a prerogative. A number of students at Marshall High School said they defend the right to sag, even if they abstain.
Sophomore Tyler Patton said, “I don’t sag my pants. My momma taught me better than that.”
Mitts acknowledged even school uniforms wouldn’t entirely solve the problem.
“There are some students in school, even with the uniforms, that are sagging and bagging right along,” Mitts said.
She said wearing low-hanging pants is indecent, and she hopes school officials feel likewise. Mitts and other council members are also examining the possibility of going a step further than urging schools to enforce a dress code banning baggy pants, through a possible city ordinance with some teeth.