School Uniforms Essay, Research Paper
Throughout the State of Florida, numerous school boards have been attempting to standardize the clothing that students wear. The school superintendents who are in favor of uniforms will argue that the children who wear them will experience many benefits. I disagree with this position. I feel that the use of uniforms will strip identity, stifle creativity, and unnecessarily burden the families that cannot afford them. The use of uniforms has already been implemented in several long-standing social environments. The penal system uses uniforms to brand those persons who are incarcerated. Likewise, the military also uses them to separate and remove the individualism inside of the soldier. In both cases, individual identity is stripped away and the subject is forced to conform to the same outward appearance as every other subject. Another problem that will surface due to the implementation of school uniforms is the suppression of the individual’s creativity and expression. Many students’ express who they are through the way they dress. If a teenager wants to show the rest of the world that he loves Jesus, then he or she might wear a T-shirt that states a positive view on the subject. Similarly, a student might want to wear green colored clothing to show his or her support for St. Patrick’s day. School uniforms would end both of those examples listed within this paragraph and many, many more. The last issue that needs to be addressed is the unnecessary burden that will be placed upon those families of limited resources. Many low-income families do not have the money available to furnish uniforms to their children. They can barely make ends meet with the help of charities and social programs. In Polk County, Florida, the school board is trying to pass legislation that a child cannot attend school unless they have on the proper uniform. An education is supposed to be available to all children, not just the ones whose parents can afford to buy the government ordered attire. I have listed several reasons why the use of school uniforms should not be implemented in America’s public education system. Not only will it melt the individual into the mass, but it will also hinder those that are destitute. If the school boards desire to make the use of uniforms mandatory, then they need to issue all of the required equipment, just like the military and the prison systems do.
Having a school full of students wearing the same clothes and hairstyles helps build an integration within the class. Students that wear many different styles of clothes all come together wearing similar pants, shirts, ties, and shoes. Through a dress code restriction, everyone is helped to be made more comfortable by wearing similar clothes, otherwise, people may feel alienated with less trendy or “cool” clothes. Hairstyles help ease this integration as well by giving each person similar styles making everyone feel more at ease. The overall integration helps the students realize that although people may look similar, the idea that everyone exhibits will be greatly different. These different ideas are present in everyone, and the dress code and hair restrictions help illustrate that just because someone looks the same, they do not think the same. When the students get jobs or find careers in their future, it will be helpful to know that even though all their co-wor s seem similar, they are in actuality very different. This approach to future jobs and careers will give the students an advantage in being open minded with people
Public school systems across the country are now requiring students to wear uniforms. Can uniforms really make a difference in a child’s academic performance? Wouldn’t uniforms infringe the child’s creativity and self expression? The “clothes don’t make the child” right (Hempill A15)? Wrong. School uniforms can drastically reduce school violence and help a student to focus on school work. In 1996, President Clinton endorsed public school uniforms in his State of the Union Address(Atkins 42). This created a rage among some education critics across the country. Critics complain that uniforms will lessen children’s individualism and creativity, infringing students’ rights and hint of racism. While proponents believe, uniforms will put the students emphasis on schoolwork instead of dressing coolly, and they will help to lower school violence. The idea comes from a Californian elementary school in Long Beach. “In 1994, Long Beach became the country’s first public school district to institute a mandatory uniform policy”(Atkins 42). The results were so promising that they lead to the President’s endorsement. The school saw a fifty-one percent drop in physical fights, a thirty-four percent drop in assaults and batteries, a fifty percent drop in weapons offenses, and a thirty-two percent drop in school suspensions(Mancini 65). All this in a time span of only one year. Proving that a child’s clothes does make a difference in school violence. In a time when school children are getting killed for designer jackets and shoes, uniforms are exactly what our children need(Mancini 63). Critics say that school uniform inhibit self expression. If you take away a child’s self expression through clothing, you force that child to express his or herself in other ways. This might even force a child to resort to even more violent forms of expression, like through writing and art. In today’s society, students are fighting each other in schools, because of other students that wear rival gangs colors and clothing. I went to school in a town with a population of about only ten-thousand residents. In our relatively small school, classes were disrupted several times, because one student was wearing another student’s rival gang’s colors causing outbursts and fights. This problem is one that occurrences daily in big city schools, but a problem uniforms can help remedy. Uniforms eliminate gang clothing like baggy pants, belts with initials on the buckles, halter tops, or certain gang colored clothing items. The uniforms can also help to identify outsiders within a school. Drug dealers would have wear uniforms in order to be able to roam the school yard without being spotted. The uniforms can also help parents save money. A parent can pay anywhere from sixty to a hundred dollars for a pair of pants, forty to sixty dollars on a single shirt, and eighty to one hundred-fifty dollars for a pair of shoes. A student would need to have at least five to six different outfits to wear to school. Where as a child wearing a uniform only would need two sets of clothes for class. The uniforms may vary, but most uniforms consist of basic colored slacks and a basic colored collared shirt. They can be purchased for as little as forty dollars at discount stores and the most expensive being around a hundred dollar. Besides saving parents hundreds of dollars, school uniforms also help to erase lines between the social classes. Since all students will be dressed alike, it will be impossible to tell the difference from a students from low income family and one from a high income family. I went to a public school for nine years, before transferring to a private school. At the public school my enthusiasm was minimal at best. My parent are not rich, and I had to wear clothes that were not consider cool. This automatically put me out of the cool group. I felt unhappy and left out. I did not go to school functions, because I felt I was not cool enough and would not fit in. Going to a private school and having to wear uniforms remedied that. I longer was not cool, just because I did not wear the right clothes. Students did not judge me by my apparel, instead I was judged by my personality. My grades improved and I graduated as student body president. When I talk to old friends from the public school, they are amazed at how much I have changed . I don’t credit all of this to uniforms, but they sure allowed a side of me to be seen that most of the students at the public school never bothered to look for. Can uniforms make a difference? If they save one life or allow one child to be fit in, they can. No one claims that uniforms are the fix all for the public school system, but they are a start. Uniforms will give all students a chance to fit in regardless of their social standing. They will also take the student’s focus off of having the right clothes and put it back on having the right attitude.
Atkins, Andrea. “School Dress.” Better Homes and Gardens Aug. 1996. 42-43. Hemphill, Clara. “Clothes Don’t Make the Child.” New York Times 21 Mar 1998: A14 Mancini, Gail Hinchion. “School Uniforms: Dressing for Success or Conformity?” Education Digest Dec. 1997. 62-65.