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The effectiveness or use of uniforms in public schools has been a continuous debate. Should public schools implement the strict school uniform code policy? This has been an ongoing discussion between students, parents and schools. Researchers who have examined this topic have different perspectives; some feel that it has no effect on a child’s capability to learn. There are a number of people who view school uniforms as an unfashionable trend while others see them as a must have to help with the fairness and likeness of each student. School uniforms are a necessity in public schools because they protect our children from unnecessary harm.
The school uniform policy has grown in numbers over the past decade. School uniforms were first established in public schools in 1987 at Cherry Hill Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland. These early uniform programs were voluntary, but most parents supported the idea, according to a December 1987 New York Times report written by Lee Daniels. Daniels says school officials and other supporters of the new uniform policies noted improvements in the mindset of students and stated that uniforms had reduced discipline problems. They also reported that uniforms had reduced students’ worries with expensive designer clothing for school wear and eased the financial burden placed on the families of students (Daniels).
School uniforms prevent a numerous amount of negative activity and promote school spirit. Teachers have noted that school uniforms have created a better classroom and have promoted a positive learning environment by curbing gang tension and the separation associated with brand clothing (Caruso). DaCosta does a great job expressing that schools have identified many possible advantages of using a school uniform policy, including: reducing violence and theft between students over designer clothes; preventing gang members from wearing gang colors; helping students to focus on their studies; and helping school administrators to identify intruders inside the school.
Holloman conveys that dress-related behavioral issues raise significant socialization issues for the public schools in our nation. In 1996, the school uniform policy received national attention when President Clinton endorsed the use of uniforms as a means of reducing and preventing dress-related violence and other issues in public schools. Uniforms remove the social segregation by allowing students to be on an equal learning field. Students will be able to join clubs and social events that they would not normally join, but now will be able to based off their intelligence instead of the social status of designer clothes. School spirit is lifted when wearing uniforms. Students feel that they belong in their community and important by wearing a school uniform. Parents feel that the cost of school uniforms is less expensive than the purchase of name brand clothes. When uniforms are mandatory the timeliness to get ready in the morning is far less than having to decide what to wear to school each day. Wearing uniforms saves time in battling wardrobes and spending countless minutes deciding if items match. Vopat states that school uniforms are not a violation of a child’s right to expression themselves freely because children lack the skills necessary for meaningful expression. Since children lack these qualities, they will develop in time the ability to express themselves in applicable way through training.
The main goal for parents when enrolling their child into school is to make sure they get an education and that they are safe. The majority of a child’s time is spent at school and around his peers. While in school, students are required to take the same classes, accomplish the same classwork and tests, and therefore should be required to wear the same clothing. Students in public schools come from all different backgrounds and countries. There are foreign exchange students in the public school system that have difficult times fitting in. School uniforms play an important role in the self-esteem of a child and make them feel equal. Additionally, it allows students to see what’s on the inside that counts rather than what someone may wear on the outside.
Some disadvantages come with wearing school uniforms in public schools. Parents and students take these factors into consideration for uniform wearing policy when arguing their case. First off, school uniforms make students stand out in public and create a recipe for bullying between various schools. Vopat describes a lawsuit in Canady vs Bossier Parish School Board, he writes the following ways that students are targeted by expression: “The choice of clothing can be an instance of pure speech, as when a student wears a shirt or jacket with a written political message on it; clothing may also represent one’s ethnic heritage, religious beliefs, and political and social views; clothing may be a means by which students indicate the social group to which they belong, the activities they participate in, or their attitudes toward society and the school environment.” Lastly, school uniforms do not improve academic attendance, preparedness or exam results. It is not the students’ clothing that enables how smart our hard working a student is but rather their desire to become somebody by education and growth.
School uniforms are not the answer to prevent school violence. It is a Band-Aid for the failing attempt of the administration to address the real reasons. Wearing civilian clothes of your own free will helps the students feel comfortable. Uniforms are not comfortable and are not of today’s fashion. For parents who are unable to afford school uniforms, they find themselves in economic hardship. Students who normally would not wear the uniform may decide that the price of buying a new wardrobe is far more costly than what schools have to offer.
In conclusion, school uniforms in public schools are a necessity in today’s world. Although the claims of this issue may be susceptible, school uniforms have benefits. It is the students’, parents’ and schools’ job to look beyond the negativity that uniforms may bring and to embrace them with a policy that both students and schools can uphold. Some policies have faults and can be very descriptive towards punishment if a student does not comply with the standards. Instead of addressing the repercussions of not adhering to the policy, let’s address the reward of following the uniform code policy.
Daniels, Lee A. “Uniforms a Hit at Four Public Schools.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Dec. 1987, www.nytimes.com/1987/12/06/us/uniforms-a-hit-at-four-public-schools.html.
- Lee Daniels article in the New York Times identifies that schools in 1987 started the school uniform dress code and it was voluntary. He sites that most people were for it and that it would reduce worrying. This is useful in knowing the background of the school uniforms.
Caruso, Peter. “Individuality Vs. Conformity: The Issue Behind School Uniforms.” NASSP Bulletin 80.581 (1996): 83–88. Web.
- Peter Caruso’s article helped in gaining the advantages of adhering to the school uniform code policy. He describes how it helps promote classroom studies and diminished gang violence. He expresses the designer clothing can be curb with school uniforms.
DaCosta, Kneia. “Dress Codes Blues: An Exploration of Urban Students’ Reactions to a Public High School Uniform Policy.” Journal of Negro Education 75.1 (2006): 49–59. Print.
- Kneia DaCosta’s article helped me apply to more advantages in the school uniform policy. She describes a few reasons why uniforms are a plus. She expresses that it reduces the violence and theft between students.
Holloman, Lillian et al. “Dress-Related Behavioral Problems and Violence in the Public School Setting: Prevention, Intervention, and Policy–A Holistic Approach.” Journal of Negro Education 65.3 (1996): 267–81. Web.
- Lillian Holloman article helps with highlighting the dress relate behavioral issues that schools face. She lets us know that in 1996 the uniform policy got national attention when President Clinton spoke on its behalf.
Vopat, Mark C. “Mandatory School Uniforms and Freedom of Expression.” Ethics and Education 5.3 (2010): 203–215. Web.
- Mark Vopat’s article helps with identifying the disadvantages of the school uniform policy. He tells readers of the Canady v. Bossier Parish School Board lawsuit that children cannot express themselves when they have no choice on what to wear.
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