School Uniforms Essay, Research Paper
Uniforms have existed since the beginning of time. Recently, uniforms have become a pressing issue among public school officials. The requirement of wearing school uniforms in public schools is unconstitutional. Uniforms will not help stop violence in schools, or create a better learning environment. There is a constitutional right that protects freedom of expression, there are many uniform policy complications, and uniforms would be covering up bigger problems in our society. There are many other ways to fix what is wrong in a more constitutional way.
Supporters of uniforms feel uniforms will do a lot of good for public schools. Students in uniforms will be less violent, provide a better learning environment with fewer distractions, and more safety overall in the schools. With uniforms, kids will not compete with each other for in clothes. Also, uniforms will eliminate kids wearing gang colors, purposely or innocently. Some administrators with school uniforms already in effect report a small decrease in tardiness, number of classes cut, and suspensions. With all students wearing uniforms, it is easier to tell if someone in school doesn t belong there. Supporters want opt-out forms eliminated someday, too. Uniforms will greatly help the effectiveness of school learning environments and safety.
Although some people feel that uniforms will cut violence and produce a better learning environment, it will not work. First, the violence from gangs and drug dealers cannot be stopped this way. If a drug dealer is made to wear a uniform, will he really stop dealing and/or doing drugs? The answer is no! writes an editor for the magazine Indy s Child. One elementary school s optional school uniform even supported a local gang s colors. We do have a couple of gangs in the neighborhood, says Samuel Greenstein, the principal, and there have been incidents where kids…wearing school uniforms have innocently been wearing an opposing gang s colors while passing through another gang s territory, and have been harassed. A better learning environment can be produced will smaller class sizes and more teachers patrolling the halls. This way, it will be harder for fights to occur, and for intruders to come into the school. These are some real ways to solve the problem, not with uniforms.
Another issue against school uniforms is that students have the right to freedom of expression. Under the protection of the Bill of Rights, people can wear whatever they want to. In the case Hines vs. Caston, a young boy wore an earring to school and the principle made him remove it. He was told not to wear it to school. The boy and his parents refused to remove the earring, and the Caston School Corporation took the Hineses to court. A settlement was reached deciding that the boy would no longer wear the earring. This should not have been the result. The earring was not disturbing anyone. Like in the Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community case, the armband disagreement was not a disturbance, and it was constitutionally protected. The earring falls under the same category.
Requiring uniforms creates complications. Some families cannot afford uniforms. In order to make uniforms constitutional; there must be opt-out forms. There will be a community scholarship program to pay for the cost. If the community is poor then the government will pay, but which government is unsure. Each uniform is very expensive. One school s uniform was $29 per shirt, and $35 per pair of pants. As was determined by the Long Beach vs. Civil Liberties Unions case, there must be opt-out forms for uniforms. This case was settled out of court, but because of it Long Beach cannot require uniforms. The school agreed to have opt-out forms, provide funds for low-income students, and provide adequate notice to the parents of their opt-out rights.
Finally, required uniforms are just a big Band-Aid for other problems. To obtain less violence, help should start with families and communities. Large amounts of violence in the community will mirror on school behavior. There should be discussion groups, open-mike assemblies, more law enforcement, and counselor visits to create a better neighborhood. Other ways school problems can be helped without issuing uniforms are:
*Securing school entrances
*Adding extracurricular activities
*High school student job placement
*Programs to reduce out-of-school violence
*Conflict Resolution Techniques for administrators, students and parents
This way there will be less violence.
In conclusion, the problems we are trying to solve by issuing uniforms need to be handled in a different way. Uniforms will not stop violence in schools, or create a better learning environment. There is a freedom of expression in what someone wears, and there are several complications with the uniform policy. Lastly, uniforms are just covering up much bigger problems in our society. There are other ways to fix what is wrong and uniforms are not the answer and never will be.
A Critical View of School Uniforms. Indy s Child. May 1997: pg.23.
Dorsen, Norman. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. New York: 1996
Greene, Amy and Ross, Bobby. School Uniform Policy Studied. Indy s Child. March 1997: pg.27.
Long Beach School Uniform Case Settled. www.aclu.org/news/n022396b.html 23 February 1997.
Macrius, Gina. School Voluntary Uniforms Win Officials Praise.
Mamane, Anna. Uniforms For Our Public School Children. www.wam.umd.edu/ amamane/ac1.html 5 December 1997.
School Uniforms. CQ Researcher. Vol.6, Issue 10, pg.224
Siegel, Loren. ACLU School Uniform Suggestions. www.aclu.org
Urban, Sarah. School Uniforms. www.he.net . April 1997