The school uniforms debate has been around for literally centuries. Ever since one school began enforcing their students to dress similarly, other schools have jumped on board or openly questioned the need for it. It seems everyone has an opinion on it.
The first uniform requirement by a school happened in 1222 in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury declared that all students would wear a robe-like outfit called the “cappa clausa.” In the 16th century in England, Christ’s Hospital’s boarding school began having their students wear a traditional school uniform similar to what is still being worn today there. In fact, when their students were asked if the uniforms should stay or go, 95 percent voted that the they should all continue to wear them.
In the beginning of schools mandating school uniforms, it was usually private schools or parochial schools that were at the forefront. The districts were usually well off financially as well. In today’s United States, it is just the opposite. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 20 percent of schools in America require their students to wear school uniforms. Interestingly, uniforms are more often required at the schools that have the highest poverty rate in the United States.
There are pros and cons on each side of the argument on school uniforms. Below are some of the more popular ones. Read them over and make your own decision on whether students should be required to wear school uniforms.
School Uniforms Stop Crime and Increase Safety
At one K-8 school in California, switching over to mandatory requirement helped decrease behavior problems across the board. Fighting went down 51 percent, theft dropped by 65 percent, weapon possession decreased by 52 percent, and drug possession dropped 69 percent. These results when switching over to school uniforms are typical. Behavior becomes better in the school.
Restricts Students’ Personal Identity
Do we want a society of kids that all dress alike without the ability to express themselves? Students show their own personal identity by the style they choose to dress. It is a form of maturing and being able to make their own decisions.
School Uniforms Promote Conformity Over Individuality
Depending upon your view, this could be a pro or a con. Uniforms bring about a sense of togetherness without the need to ostracize or bully those who dress differently. But then again, schools tend to try to teach students to think alike. Do we really want one student to be identical to the next one? Are we just setting up factories in school districts across the world with the goal of producing cookie cutter students that are exactly alike?
Uniforms Are Easier to Enforce than School Dress Codes
Schools frequently struggle to enforce dress codes. There are usually certain requirements that shorts or dresses cannot be shorter than where your fingertips are when your arms are straight down at your side. However, not all arm lengths are equal. If they were, we wouldn’t have six feet tall NBA players with a seven foot wingspan. Also, dress codes state that students cannot wear too revealing or flashy clothes. Again, this is totally subjective to the person making the judgment.
Doris Jo Murphy, an elementary assistant principal, states that dress code violations constantly took up an immense amount of discipline time. Students violating the dress code were often reported to administration, and then there would be cries of favoritism because other kids who dressed similar were not reported. School uniforms would have helped to prevent this problem.
School Uniforms Can Save Their Family Money
There is no getting around it, clothes are expensive! And even worse, some of the shoes students often wear cost hundreds of dollars. Most schools that have a mandatory uniform requirement ask that each student have two sets of identical uniforms so that they can wear them on alternating days. Uniforms range in price mostly from $50 to $150. It is easy to see how this could save a family some serious money every year. Plus, there are often uniforms donated once kids outgrow them, allowing some families to receive uniforms basically for free.
Government and School Districts Should Not Have this Power
As taxpayers, we already feel that the government oversteps its boundaries often. They require us to pay some taxes and follow some laws that appear to most sane people as quite silly. Why must the government get involved in everything we do? They can’t even manage themselves properly as they literally take billions of dollars away from hard working citizens. Do we really want to provide them even more power to decide what we should or should not wear? The same can be said for school districts. Our taxes fund most school districts. Shouldn’t we be able to decide what is appropriate for our children without someone else butting in?