Abstract This paper is about the issue of school uniforms and whether or not for schools (K-12) to require them. I analyzed three strong arguments from both sides of the issue. The side advocating uniforms argued that school uniforms keep students focused, which may lead to an improvement of grades. Advocates state uniforms deter students from crimes and save money for parents by relieving parents of the pressure of buying new clothes for every school year.
The other side of the issue against uniforms in schools argue that uniforms threaten and infringe on student’s freedom of expression by requiring students to wear the uniforms with consequences if not hearkened. The opposition to uniforms also presented a study where the students oppose uniforms and the students claim uniforms have no effect on their personal grade. Lastly, the advocates against uniforms in schools argue uniforms invade on a parent’s right to raise their children by deciding their clothing.
Both sides of the issue presented empirical evidence to support their claims; they are discussed in the paper. School uniforms have been a topic of debate since the first significant court decision in 1969. Since, debates pondered on whether or not to require uniforms in education spanning from K-12. The topic on school uniforms is an issue because it raises the question if school uniforms infringe on the First Amendment of the United States and among other freedom restrictions.
Proponents that are pro-school uniforms argue that uniforms keep students focused on school, deter students from crime, and save parents money. Advocators for removing school uniforms argue that uniforms restricts student’s freedom of expression, students oppose school uniforms, and parents should have the freedom to decide their child’s clothing. Uniforms keep students focused on school. A study conducted by the University of Houston focused on the effects of uniforms on students, ranging from sixth grade to twelfth grade.
The study concluded that girl’s attendance increased by “0. 5% after schools uniform adoption” (Dress for Success) and the language grade went up three percent. The authors of the study took into account the variability in schools for the study. Public officials support the idea of school uniforms helping students keep focus in school. During the 2008 presidential election, candidate Clinton was quoted in saying that uniforms keep students focused in school and not on what the students are wearing. (Clinton on Education Reform) Uniforms deter students from crime.
The first school district in the United States that mandated school uniforms grades K-8th had significant decrease in reports of crimes within the district’s schools. Long Beach school district had reports of fifty percent decrease in fighting incidents. Drug-related crimes within the district drooped by fifty-two percent (School Uniform and Safety). In 2012, the University of Nevada finished a study that showed a “63% reduction in police logs during the first year of implementation [of uniforms] (Nevada Today). School uniforms prevent students from wearing loose-fitting clothes.
This prevents students from concealing weapons ergo preventing crime. School uniforms saves money for parents. A survey done by the National Association of Elementary School Principals in 2013 showed that nationally, seventy-seven percent of uniforms for elementary schools were under one-hundred and fifty dollars. Since uniforms can be used for the following years in the elementary school, parents were not required to buy more clothing for school for their children. With school uniforms, there is pressure on parents to buy the most fashionable or expensive trendy clothes.
The opposition of schools requiring uniforms state that uniforms restrict students’ freedom of expression. “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. ” (Tinker v. Des Moines) In 1969, the United States Supreme Court ruled schools could not censor student actions unless the action is clearly unreasonable and would disrupt school activities. Student actions include dressing themselves. Uniforms impose a rule on dress code, not allowing st udents to wear their clothing of preference.
This case is widely used as evidence when arguing against schools requiring uniforms. In 1970, the case of Richards v. Thurston, the courts ruled, “conventional standard of appearance… does not seem a justifiable part of the educational process (Richards v. Thurston). Translated, schools cannot discipline a student for unjustifiable characteristics, including appearances. Clothing is vital in expressing one’s self and by having schools impose dress-code rules restricts that expression. Students, themselves, disapprove of school uniforms.
The 2012 study conducted by the University of Nevada found that ninety percent of seventh and eighth graders did not like wearing school uniforms. In a 2007 poll done in Maryland, parents and instructors said yes to uniforms. Eighty-eight percent of students voted no in the same poll. If students are forced to do something they personally do not enjoy, efforts will drop and often, the children may act rebellious. In Long Beach, the first district in the United States to mandate school uniforms, seventy-six percent of the middle school students stated that the uniforms did not help them academically.
Eightyone percent of the same students said the uniforms did not reduce fights, countering the fifty percent of reduced fights reported in the same study by the district. Parents should have the freedom on deciding their children’s clothes without government interference. As parents, they should have the power to dictate their own child’s manner, including their clothing. If a parent cannot buy their child a shirt because the school does not allow anything but uniforms, then parents show no representation in the school. Parents cannot raise their child without the government interfering.
Parents teach their child appropriate clothing but that is where it ends. Parents cannot continue their influence over their children in school because of uniform policies (Ironing out Policies). Schools spanning from K-12th should require uniforms. After ving both sides of the issue, the uniform advocates present a stronger argument. The empirical evidence is there: uniforms are positive for students. The most significant, convincing argument is the reduction in crime rate. In the study conducted by the University of Nevada, it stated a sixty-three percent reduction in crimes logged.
I think this is because students wearing their schools uniforms will be more identifiable, allowing the police to track delinquents easily. Although some parents or students may resent uniforms, it is for the better. When students finish high school and graduate from college, they are most likely going to get a career that requires a uniform or specific dress code. Dressing our youth early not only prepares them for the future, but it embeds the idea that uniforms are a sign of professionalism and are well respected.