Karen Pence's insightful article on school uniforms {Outlook, Nov. 1} quoted several typical reactions to the wearing of such garb, among them: "If I wanted to wear a uniform, I would have gone to a Catholic school!" and "I don't want to wear any tacky uniforms!"

In examining the first statement, perhaps some thoughts on school uniforms from a Catholic perspective would be appropriate. The wearing of uniforms in Catholic schools forms a unique symbol for several key aspects of high-quality Catholic education:

Equality: Service to the cause of justice lay at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore plays a key role in Catholic eduction. The uniform thus becomes a symbol, not of sameness, but of equality -- equality of persons created in the image of God.

Discipline: Catholic schools have distinguished themselves by fostering an effective atmosphere for a learning and loving community. On this level, the uniform represents order and discipline -- discipline based on mutual respect among students and between students and teachers.

The uniform does not exist to eradicate differences between people. It says: "The measure of your human value rests in your heart, mind and spirit, not with the price tag on your jeans."

Costs: A third sound reason for school uniforms is costs. Education can be expensive enough for families and for communities. The uniform can lend blessed relief to the pocketbooks of students and parents resigned to pouring hard-earned dollars into a designer well.

I agree to an extent with the second comment quoted above. No one can be expected to be happy in a garment that is unattractive or "tacky." School uniforms are only as good as the talents of those who design them and the taste of the administrators who purchase them.

JEROME R. PORATH Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Washington Washington