School Uniforms: Too Much or What We Need? University of Phoenix Many students today fear that the heart of a controversial issue involving school uniforms will become an issue in their school. Some educators feel as though school uniforms are actually the answer to keeping our schools safe, making our students happy, and making our schools a better learning center. Most students and some parents feel as though school uniforms will take away a student’s individuality, fear that they are too expensive, and think a student’s opinion should be considered.
There are two very opposing sides on the issue of school uniforms, but for those that feel that students’ individuality is important for a child to become the best he or she can also believe that there can be some kind of compromise that wouldn’t cause students to lose their freedom. A school uniform is a set of standardized clothes that parents are asked to purchase and students wear for school. Private schools have already adopted the idea of school uniforms along with some schools in England and Australia. School uniforms are meant to be professional and neat.
Some feel as though it gives students the feeling of a different atmosphere. The traditional uniform for boys consists of dark shorts (black or navy blue), or light khaki shorts and/or pants with a light colored shirt and sometimes a tie. Traditional uniforms for girls vary between different countries, different schools districts, and different school systems. The most common uniform consist of a blouse worn with either a dress or a skirt, normally dark colored also (Wikipedia, 2009). Depending on where you are, girls have the option to choose between shorts and pants or skirts and dresses.
Most uniforms consist of white tennis shoes for boys and girls. Uniforms range for formal to informal. Most private schools are known to have very formal uniforms where as public schools are trying to have a more casual setting. Currently in the United States school uniforms are spreading in public school systems. Some cities are trying to have school uniforms in all of their public schools. Some examples of the cities standings are 95% of New Orleans’ public schools require uniforms, 85% of Cleveland’s public schools require uniforms, 80% of
Chicago’s public schools require uniforms, 65% of Boston’s public schools require uniforms, 60% of Miami’s public schools require uniforms, 50% of Cincinnati’s public schools require uniforms (Education Bug, 2009). These different standings prove how widespread school uniforms are becoming. There are quite a few benefits to implementing school uniforms. The first benefit to schools uniforms would be the obvious subtraction of gang colors in schools. If school uniforms are implemented at a school students will no longer be able to associate themselves in gangs on school grounds.
Another benefit that comes with school uniforms could be fewer distractions in the classroom, along with less violence due to clothing and/or apparel. A school district in Long Beach, California was the first district in the country to make uniforms mandatory for all students in its elementary and middle schools in 1994. The number of fights declined there by over 50 percent in the first year, but the number of fights in the neighboring Los Angeles also declined, although those schools in Los Angeles did not adopt a uniform policy (Olend, 2002).
Some even believe that school uniforms can make test scores higher and even increase attendance. Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology produced a study in 1998 concerning school uniforms. Their findings using 10th grade students showed that uniforms have no direct effect on “substance abuse, behavioral problems or attendance,” (Kelly, 2009). Many teachers feel as though if all students are wearing the same thing they may be able to be more comfortable with themselves and have a higher sense of being.
There will be no arguments about brands of clothing, who’s clothes are better, or anything of the sort, because everyone is required to be wearing the same thing. Although there appears to be quite a few benefits from school uniforms, many feel as though these benefits can’t even be proven. And many wonder what a child’s has to do with their ability to learn as a student. There are a lot of questions among the benefits to school uniforms. Along with these benefits there come a few problems. The first problem that parents are coming across with school uniforms would be the costs.
Although efforts have been made to make school uniforms affordable the average cost is more than that of casual clothes chosen by an individual. The NPD Group, a market research company in New York, estimated that parents spent $900 million on uniforms for elementary school children in 1998. That comes out to about 7 percent of the total amount spent on children’s clothing and this number has most likely risen since then (Education Bug, 2009). Another problem, which is considered the most important argument in the issue of school uniforms, is the thought of student’s losing their individuality.
There have been many different court cases involving schools uniforms. Parents and students feel as though their rights have been violated when school uniforms are implemented in their schools. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School in 1969, the court said that a student’s freedom of expression in school must be protected unless it would seriously interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline. In the dissenting opinion written by Justice Hugo Black, he said, “If the time has come when pupils of state-supported schools, … can defy and flout orders of school officials to keep their minds on their own schoolwork, it is the beginning of a new revolutionary era of permissiveness in this country fostered by the judiciary (Kelly, 2009). ” Students are still protected under Tinker, but because of the changes that seemed to have occurred due to school uniforms, many seem to be more accepted. The issue of school uniforms itself, however, has not yet been faced by the Supreme Court. Many feel that students will not only lose their individuality, but also will not be as creative.
If they had to wear uniforms everyday they would not be able to express themselves through their clothing. Instead they would have to be like everyone else. Uniforms reduce the difference between students, but is this necessarily a good thing? It is important to grow as individual and to be comfortable with who they are and what they have. They should be able to express themselves however they feel necessary. Educators argue that an academic program encouraging students to pursue individual thought is much more important than what they wear. They hold back creativity and self-expression, forcing students to be conventional.
School uniforms have also been found to cause some discipline issues. Some students reject any rules. Forcing them to wear school uniforms only aggravates their rebellious spirit. They alter their school uniform by tightening, widening, shortening, or lengthening them, doing whatever can go against the rules and teachers are given the impossible task of policing the students on a daily basis (Grauke, 2005). Along with the thought of the problem discipline students there is the problem that teachers shouldn’t have to add checking every student’s uniform to their list of things to do.
A student’s learning environment and what they learn is far more important than what they are wearing while they are doing this learning. The last factor that is important in the issue of school uniforms is the opinion of the students. Students should have the right to have an opinion in what they are going to wear to school every day. The choice of what to wear to school every morning should be up to the student not the school district. There have been many polls and discussions in classroom that clearly show how unhappy students are about the thoughts of school uniforms in their schools.
If students aren’t comfortable with the decision and don’t feel as though it will help their self-esteem or make them more comfortable then these opinions should be considered. After all, it is the student’s well-being is what everyone has in mind. Schools that are considering enforcing school uniforms should also consider the problems there could be through the administrative side of the situation. There will be a lot of students and parents opposing the idea so there will much to deal with. A lot of time, effort, and patience will be needed to make the transition.
School uniforms could be a good idea in public schools if the right steps are taken. School uniforms should not go any farther than a strict dress code. There are some areas when it comes to school uniforms that can be compromised on. School uniforms should be more casual. Students should be allowed an outlet for their own expression. This could be accomplished by letting students wear some accessories. Avoiding gang colors would still be high priority, but there could be the option to wear buttons, hair accessories, and/or jewelry.
Another great compromise would be to provide financial assistance to those that need it. Eventually school uniforms will be considered to be implemented in all schools. If this happens students and parents should always be kept in mind. There are many benefits that come with school uniforms. Everything that can help a school become safer and a better learning place for a student should be considered and tried. Better test scores, higher attendance, and safer schools are all positive things about school uniforms.
There are also some negatives that need to be considered when making the decision of whether or not to enforce school uniforms. Student’s individuality, opinions, and their parent’s feelings are all things that could be affected negatively by school uniforms. After considering both sides it would be best public schools either to not enforce uniforms at all or enforce them will some modifications. Works Cited Kelly, M. (2009). About. com. School Uniforms: Pros and Cons. Retrieved July 29th, 2009 from http://712educators. about. com/cs/schoolviolence/a/uniforms. htm. (2009) Education Bug.
Public School Uniforms. Retrieved July 30th, 2009 from http://www. educationbug. org/a/public-school-uniform-debate. html. . Oland, D. (2002). Introduction to the Foundations of American Education. Chapter 11:Building an Educational Philosophy. Retrieved July 30th, 2009 from AED 200. Wikipedia. 2009. School Uniform. Retrieved July 30th, 2009 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/School_uniforms. Grauke, Isaac. (2005, September 9th) Pros and Cons of school uniforms. Retreived August 22nd, 2009 from http://www. articlesbase. com/advice-articles/pros-and-cons-of-school-uniforms-182. html.