Essay on School Uniforms
As stated in a Forbes article, an estimated $1,700 is spent on clothing per American family every year, nearly 3.5% of an average family’s expenses (Johnson 1). Purchasing school uniforms can save parents large sums of money because school uniforms need to be purchased on a less frequent basis than normal clothing. A study was conducted in Alexandria, VA in 2013 with 86% of respondents revealing that school uniforms were much more cost-effective when compared to expenses of normal clothes. In addition, 77% of people who partook in the study revealed that school uniforms usually cost less than or around $150 per year in the given school area (“National Association”). The study was conducted in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, NAESP, a professional organization formed for the purpose of assisting elementary and middle school principals in the U.S. and Canada. The results of this study suggest that the implementation of uniforms into the school system has reduced the amount of money spent on school clothing by parents.
French Toast, a company that sells school uniforms, offers a complete set of clothing, which includes a shirt, pants, sweater, and tie, for only $45. It is suggested that each student owns two sets of clothing for the year, adding up to a total of $90 per year (“Reasons Why Schools”). French Toast offers an affordable way to purchase school uniforms. It is possible that a student might need to buy a third set of clothing or even one set for each day of the week, yet it is still more cost-effective to purchase five sets of clothing for a total of $225 compared to purchasing new clothing throughout the year.
While some research indicates that school uniforms save families money, other research indicates the opposite. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015-2016, a greater number of schools in which 76% or more of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch required school uniforms (“The NCES Fast Facts”). In addition, an article from the New Yorker, founded in 1925, states that less than 4% of schools in which fewer than a quarter of students are eligible for the same free or reduced-price lunch require their students to wear uniforms (Oppenheimer). Logically, this does not make sense as the people who need financial assistance are being forced to spend extra money on school uniforms while the people who can afford it are less likely to buy the uniforms. In addition, the enforcement of school uniforms takes away from the idea of free public schooling. Laura and Scott Bell from Anderson, Indiana argue that the costs of school uniforms break the guarantee of free public education. The family spent about $641 in one year on their children’s school uniforms (“School Uniforms”). Though school uniforms seem like they are a more cost-effective option compared to normal clothing, this is not always the case as the main portion of people required to wear school uniforms have trouble paying for them.
In the 2015-2016 school year, nearly 22% of public schools in the United States required students to wear uniforms. This percentage greatly increased from a mere 12% in the 1999-2000 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (Ordway). With an increase in demand of school uniforms, an increase in production must follow. In recent years, school uniforms have become a common product among large chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, and J.C. Penney, as well as online stores such as Amazon. J.C. Penney seems to be one of the most prevalent stores competing to sell school uniforms. Chief marketing officer of J.C. Penney in 2011, Mike Boyson, explains that school uniforms are “a huge, important business for us” (Fasching-Varner 60). Large chain stores rely on school uniforms for a large number of sales, which in turn greatly boosts their revenue. While large multi-purpose stores such as Wal-Mart and Target are benefiting from an increase in school uniforms, other retailers that sell only causal clothing suffer. Customers who buy school uniforms have saved money, and wherever the clothes were bought from also benefits, but smaller retail stores are negatively impacted as there are fewer customers.