Should Schools have School Uniforms?

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The idea of schools requiring a uniform poses many questions for parents and students. School uniforms can benefit the learning environment, but can also provide some issues for students throughout the school day. Some of these issues include costs, free expression, stopping bullying of the students that have “old” clothes or hand-me downs, and academic performance. Parents have many questions regarding these issues. They want their children to have the best education they can obtain and school uniforms may help with it or suppress their education.

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Traditionally uniforms were favored in private parochial institutions.Today, school uniforms are being adopted in the United States in increasing numbers in both public and private schools. England had the first documented school uniforms dated back 1222 when students wore robe-like outfits called “cappa clausa.” The origin of the modern school uniform can be traced to 16th Century England, when the impoverished “charity children” attending boarding school wore blue cloaks and yellow stockings. As uniforms became more popular, they became associated with the upper-class in England. Some schools in England required students to wear top hats and tails on and off of campus until 1972. The uniforms used in the United States were similar to the traditional uniforms used in England. The first US schools that established uniform policies were in Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland in 1987. Students in these schools were said to have an improved frame of mind and discipline issues were reduced. These students did not have to worry about wearing the latest trends and buying designer fashion like the student that was wounded in a fight over a pair of $95 sunglasses in 1986. This is the origin of the uniform policy in Baltimore. The requirement of school uniforms has increased from 13 percent in the 2003-2004 school year to 19 percent during the 2011-2012 school year. Some cities require all schools to have uniforms such as Philadelphia, who requires all schools to have uniforms and New Orleans, who requires 95 percent of schools to have uniforms (ProCon 4).

President Clinton told Congress on January 3, 1996 during his State of the Union speech: “[I]f it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms” ( ProCon 2). On February 25, 1996, Clinton repeated his message about uniforms in his weekly radio address and during a series of media appearances. He ordered the distribution of a school uniform manual to the country’s 16,000 school districts. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that schools could not curtail students’ freedom of expression as long as the students’ choices were “not disruptive, and did not impinge upon the rights of others.” The students that were in question had worn black armbands in protest of the US participation in the Vietnam War. School uniform opponents used the ruling to argue that school uniforms silence free expression and freedom of speech.

What are the pros of having school uniforms? Supporters of school uniforms believe that they make schools safer, create a “level playing field” that reduces socioeconomic disparities, and encourage children to focus on their studies rather than their clothes. School violence is reduced. Students do not have to be bullied about their clothing. The teasing about whether you are wearing less expensive clothes can stop, thus increasing their self esteem. Some students cannot afford designer clothes and the latest trends. Students have more time to focus on their schoolwork and education and not their clothes. Students do not have to worry about picking out their clothes. They do not have to worry about fitting in with their peers because they are all wearing the same outfit. This leaves more time for schoolwork. Students are not able to tell the “have” from the “have nots.” Wearing school uniforms can enhance school pride and unity. Schools can show their pride when their students feel like they belong to the school and feel like they fit in. School uniforms make it easier to recognize intruders.

Those who want to harm a student or take one will not want to sign in at the office when they enter the school. The intruder will be easier to recognize. In 2017, there were 65 school shootings according to ABC 15. As of October 2018, there have been 65 school shooting. Not all of these were caused by students bringing a weapon to the school. Requiring students to wear uniforms, along with teachers wearing certain outfits to school may eliminate the high number of shootings because students and staff will be able to identify the intruder much easier than they normally would. It will become easier to obtain and disarm the intruder once identified. The intruder may be looking for a specific student, but if all of the students are wearing similar outfits, it makes it harder to recognize or find that student. Students from other schools that are attempting to hurt another student will be more visible and will not be able to make it very far in the school before being noticed.

What about the cons? Opponents say school uniforms infringe upon students’ right to express their individuality, have no positive effect on behavior and academic achievement, and emphasize the socioeconomic disparities they are intended to disguise. School uniforms restrict students’ freedom of expression. Students do not get to show who they are and their personality. They cannot be themselves and show what they believe in. They cannot show their individuality. Opponents say the uniforms do not reduce school violence. They feel that the violence is an act of the school environment and not the way students are dressed. Much of the violence is from students that receive abuse in their home environments, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional. In schools with uniform policies, students that are a member of gangs will find other ways to show who they are by tattoos, piercings, or scars. They believe that social classes will remain intact and students will segregate themselves during the school day based their classes.

Through a student’s schooling, they learn about many historical figures that spoke out for their rights. They tried and most succeed in making changes. Students learn about historical figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. They learn about their individuality and how they worked to make changes. Students cannot do things like that when they cannot express themselves within the school walls. Schools are all about making sure their students are their own self and having their personality, but uniforms does not allow for that. Uniforms make students conform to the school’s standards. Students cannot express themselves. This could lead to depression and other health issues could arise in some cases. This could lead to schools removing the uniforms requirement after so long.

School uniforms have many pros and cons that affect the lives of students everyday. School uniforms can improve students’ academic performance and how they approach their schoolwork. Students have an easier time focusing on their work when they do not have to worry about what they will wear to school and fit in among their classmates. School pride will increase because students will feel that they will belong to the school. Violence among students will decrease. Students will wear the same clothes and bullies will not have anyone to make fun for what they wear. Intruders are easier to recognize because they will stand out among those in the school. Students will be able to save money because they will not have the worry of buying the best clothes for school.

There are many reasons why schools should and should not require school uniforms. Uniforms can help students perform better in the classroom, but they can suppress their freedom of expression and their individuality. Uniforms can reduce violence, but members of gangs will find ways to show who they are. Supporters believe students will not have to worry about their backgrounds and their social class. Opponents say that students will automatically separate based on their social classes.

This paper weighs the pros and cons of the use of school uniforms. School uniforms can increase academic performance, decrease bullying, and improve school pride. However, they can also limit freedom of speech and expression.

I liked the historical context you gave for school uniforms. You also did a good job of weighing the pros and cons of school uniforms. Your formatting looks good, just be cautious of extra spaces (like on the top of page 3). You did a good job of providing two perspectives on the issue, but I think you could look further into other ideas that meet in the middle such as partial uniforms, or maybe talk about the differences in how much a dress code can be uniformed. For example, schools could require a specific top and leave the rest of the outfit up to the student.

Throughout the paper I inserted comments where I didn’t quite understand what you were talking about or if it needed more elaboration. I also think you could dive a little deeper into the facts and use actual statistics rather than “he says/she says”. While reading through this, you would give a lot of facts of what could potentially be a result of school uniforms. See if you can find any studies done that have hard numbers.

The one thing that was really lacking for me was your opinion on the issue. As you move forward, try to incorporate and defend your own thoughts on the matter, rather than just stating the opposing perspectives from a neutral stance. Otherwise, great work! I’m really excited to see how this progresses!

References

Jeffrey, C. (2018, October 04). School shootings in U.S.: When, where each shooting has occurred in 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.abc15.com/news/data/school-shootings-in-u-s-when-where-each-shooting- as-occurred-in-2018

Oppenheimer, M.. (n.d.). The Downsides of School Uniforms. Opposing Viewpoints Online, 2018.

Roguski, P. (1997). School uniforms: Background of and descriptive research(Master’s thesis, State University of New York, 1997). Brockport: Paula Roguski.

School uniforms. (2018). In ProCon.org (Ed.), Procon. Santa Monica, CA: ProCon. Retrieved from https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/procon/school_uniforms/0

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Should Schools have School Uniforms?. (2019, Feb 15). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from
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