The Jim Thorpe School District has formed a committee to decide on a dress code for the students.

If things go according to form, as they have in other districts such as Palmerton, Pleasant Valley and Tamaqua, there will be some opposition to whatever plan is agreed upon.

There will be some, hopefully a small minority, who will argue that a dress code will infringe on a student's First Amendment rights, and curtail their ability to freely express themselves.

Jim Thorpe officials shouldn't be discouraged if this happens. Dress codes are good. They bring unity to a district. They eliminate peer pressure among students vying for attention on whatever fashion trends they decide upon. And a dress code plan saves parents and students money in many cases.

The Jim Thorpe committee is already on the right track. It has reached out to the district's parent teacher organizations and sought their input to a plan they hope to implement next March.

Several things must be addressed before the code is put into action. First, and foremost, whatever is agreed upon must be enforced strictly, with no exceptions. If students are told they aren't allowed to come to school with body piercings, then no exceptions must be made. Students who don't comply must be sent home until they conform to the rules.

Secondly, the district must set up some kind of fund to assist families and students who can't afford the new clothes. This has been done in Tamaqua, with success.

Third, and this is important, the committee should expand to include several parents and students whose input would be welcomed and appreciated. The district seems to have already taken steps in this direction as L.B. Morris assistant principal David McAndrew, Jr., who heads up the committee has stated:

"We're hoping to bring more students and their parents to our meetings so they have a voice. We want their ideas on how we should roll this out."

By working together with teachers, administrators, students and parents, we're sure Jim Thorpe will come up with a workable and acceptable code.

The goal here is to produce a better learning environment. And this can be a big step in that direction.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com