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Fashion Police and School Uniforms

Updated on July 7, 2011

Often unflattering

Many students feel school uniforms are a bad idea. It’s easy to understand their feelings. Uniforms are formal and hardly ever in tune with current fashions. School uniforms are often unflattering, to say the least. However, there is more than one side to this topic.

Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, commented "If it means teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms." But, this is still only one persons’ viewpoint and Mr. Clinton doesn’t have to wear one.

There have been excellent arguments presented by both camps. Perhaps the most popular reason given for uniforms is promotion of equality among students. Class envy and jealousy over who has the most expensive clothing has been a major problem in schools around the world.

Everyone Dressed the Same

Japan, for instance, has required school uniforms for many years and apparently overcome this problem. Standardized apparel would seem to be a viable alternative for most of these problems. With everyone dressed the same maybe kids would judge their peers on character instead of the clothes they wear.

Maybe so, but, wouldn’t it be difficult for a parent to pick their children out of a crowd in an emergency such as an earthquake, fire or tornado? On the other hand, it might be easier to spot predators and others who have no business on school property.

As you can see, both sides of the subject has valid points, some more important than others. Proponents for uniforms point out selecting what to wear each day can be time consuming, especially for females. Mandatory uniforms would save time and annoyance of deciding what to wear.

The argument parents who are financially strapped could save money has also been proposed. In today’s hard economic times buying clothing can be an extremely expensive venture. So whether there is any substance to this claim remains to be seen.

Others say uniforms would prepare children for the job market where uniforms are a requirement. And leaving choice of clothing to students can sometimes prove vexing to school administrators who have to monitor and enforce dress codes.

Some schools claim uniforms decrease violence born out of arguments over fashion. Many children are teased over their wardrobe selection. Those who can't afford expensive brand name clothes are sometimes overly sensitive. Schools having gang problems also report school uniforms help ease tensions.

It is understandable why schools might want to establish a mandatory uniform program. There have been events where students were singled out and made fun of over their choice of clothes. There have also been thefts and murders over such things as designer shoes. In addition, a few years ago there was an incident involving an anti-Bush T-shirt and in another, a clash over an anti-gay T-shirt.

Do uniforms stop students from being judged on how they look?Regardless of what students wear they will always have ways of passing judgment upon each other. If not the style of clothes worn it’s something else. For example, hair styles, weight, accessories worn, etc.

Opponents argue there is no supporting evidence school uniforms improve school discipline or academic achievement. The truth of the matter is, good students are sometimes poor dressers. What one wears isn’t necessarily indicative of learning ability.

Many parents maintain a school uniform looks nicer and ensures students will come to school dressed appropriately. Some school officials also report students have turned school into a perpetual fashion show. The opposition contends wearing of uniforms would restrict individual freedom of expression.

In 2004 a book made the case uniforms don’t improve school safety or academic discipline. However, a study done in 2005 cites some Ohio high school uniforms improved graduation and attendance rates…although no improvements were noted in academic performance.

So, where did the idea for school uniforms come from? Some point to the 1980’s when public schools were being unfavorably compared to Catholic and other prestigious private learning institutions. It appeared the sporting of uniforms were academically beneficial. It was said uniforms instilled a sense of pride. Others negated the point insisting they made public class distinctions between those whose families could afford to send their children to an upscale establishment and those who couldn’t.

The dispute shows no signs of any practical agreements being reached. What’s your opinion?

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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      tnderhrt, I really appreciate your feedback. Comments like yours encourage me to write more and lets me know I still have my writing skills. If you don't use it, you lose it. When you get up in years a little, you wonder if you still remember everything you were taught about good writing.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image

      tnderhrt23 

      7 years ago

      JY3502, Man! You nailed this one! I attended parochial school for 12 years, and wore uniforms for all. I hated it. Then I grew up and had three sons...who attended public school. Single mom, single income. Talk about the pendulum swing...You have covered it all, with perfect objectivity, with grace and style. I vote for uniforms!

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