Most private institutions in the United States (US) require their students to comply with their policy of wearing school uniforms. This makes their students easily identifiable, thus, enhancing their sense of identity and belonging. Apart from this, there are also myriad advantages in requiring students to wear school uniforms. In this regard, public schools in the US have seriously considered implementing policy on uniforms. Some have already undertaken such policy and noted marked improvements from doing so. However, others have faced numerous impediments relative to policy implementation as this issue has been facing strong opposition. Some students and organizations, which promote freethinking and freedom of expression, have strongly contest in requiring school uniforms.
This paper asserts that public school students in the US should be compelled to wear school uniforms by pointing out the various advantages would bring in terms of financial implication, convenience, safety in school, students’ sense of identity and belonging as well as their discipline and learning.
Financial Implication and Convenience
It is clearly seen that school uniforms would help parents save money on their children’s clothing expenses. The set of tailor-made uniforms would be used by students on school days so parents would not have to be burdened with always buying clothes for their kids. With this, students would not find a reason to impel their parents to buy clothes for school since they already have school uniforms.
Aside from this, wearing of school uniforms would also facilitate the convenience of students in selecting day-to-day clothes. Normally, these students encounter difficulties in choosing what to wear in school. At times, this problem may cause them to be late for class as they can hardly decide on what to actually wear or how to mix-and-match their clothes to look good. With school uniforms, they can save time in going about the said dilemma every morning. Instantly, they have something to wear everyday without the worries if their peers or classmates would notice if they wear the same clothes at frequent intervals.
Some argue that requiring school uniforms may be burdensome for low-income families since even school uniforms are acquired at a cost. But then this argument can be countered by the fact that school uniforms are still relatively more affordable that most clothes bought in malls, particularly the branded ones. Moreover, students whose parents could not afford trendy clothing or designer wear would be saved from embarrassment, especially at the adolescent stage where looking good is an important factor for social acceptance.
Safety of Students
With the advent of gang-related clothing such as loose-fitting clothing style, public school officials have related these trends with the aggravation of school violence. This is because baggy clothing style characterized by oversized shirts and pants may be one of the ways by which students or gang members bring in weapons and drugs to school concealed in their clothes. Moreover, gang members, who may dress in the same way as regular students, easily gain access in public schools by mixing with the school crowd. These increase the incidence of violence in public schools and make both parents and students be troubled about safety.
To address the rising incidence of school violence, public school officials have considered implementing the policy on school uniforms so that public school students would become more easily identified and screened. School security officials may disallow entry of those who are not in school uniform. As such non-students and outsiders would be able to access the school premises and adversely influence students by distributing deadly weapons or illegal drugs. Such would also help prevent school violence.
This does not mean though that this would be the only security measure undertaken by school officials. In response to the argument by those against imposing the wearing of schools uniforms that there are other more effective ways of ensuring the security in public schools, it should be noted that this is just one way of promoting safety and preventing violence brought about by gang fights.
To illustrate this point, officials of the Long Beach (California) Unified School District claimed that since the adoption of the mandatory uniform policies in the district, violence and discipline problems dramatically decreased. Such can attest to the effectiveness of this policy and complement other security measures aiming to control violence in public schools.
Sense of Identity and Belonging
Wearing of school uniforms is deemed to encourage sense of identity and belonging. As mentioned, the school uniform identifies to what school a student is affiliated with. In this regard, one could easily associate a student to the particular traits commonly exhibited by students of the same school. For instance, if a public school boasts of students who consistently ace national examinations, a student wearing the uniform of that school is assumed to be intelligent.
With this, a student’s pride in his/her school is enhanced and so does his/her sense of belonging in the said institution. This may also help in driving students to live up to the expectations of people and perform as good as his/her peers or schoolmates.
Student Discipline and Learning
The above argument arguments boil down to the promotion of student discipline and learning. By adopting policies on school uniform, students are able to learn the importance of following rules. It is imperative for students to be disciplined at an early age since it is mandatory for them to follow various laws set by the government and other rules imposed in their future offices, commercial establishments and organizations to which they would be affiliated.
Moreover, in a way, wearing of school uniforms prepares students for the future. For example, students learn to comply with wearing proper work attire, specifically those who desire to pursue professions, which require the wearing of business suits or military uniform. Given this, the students benefit from the professional ambiance in the school environment rendered by the wearing of school uniforms.
Another important gain in having school uniforms is that since students would no longer need to worry about what to wear in school, they are also able to focus on schoolwork rather than on what they would be wearing for the next school day. Furthermore, peer-envy is reduced. The judging of students based on the clothes worn is lessened. These conditions resulting from wearing school uniforms enhance students’ morale and inspire them to concentrate on studying resulting in improved academic performance.
In addition, with the more secured environment, students would be able to focus on school matters at hand as they and their parents become less anxious in going to school. Students and parents would have fewer worries on whether there would be trouble caused by gang members within the school vicinity since school security could easily distinguish students from non-students. The more secured environment makes the school a more conducive place for learning. When they feel safe and free from the threats of violence, students would exhibit better academic performance.
The foremost argument presented against requiring school uniforms in public schools is that such policy may inhibit self-expression as the students are expected to conform to a particular way of dressing in school. Some feel that this teaches students a negative lesson on basing life decisions on rules and regulations rather than on internal values and free will. Furthermore, the wearing of school uniforms is deemed by some as a form of suppressing the creativity of students, which they could have expressed if only they were allowed to dress as they please.
The above argument is refuted through the assertion that there are multiple ways of expressing one’s self apart from clothing style. Students could still express themselves and exert creative efforts by wearing accessories or styling their hair. They could also channel their creativity through painting, drawing or composing literary masterpieces. Students could even devise new ways on how to express themselves artistically.
In light of the above discussion, the advantages of implementing school uniform policies in public schools clearly outweigh arguments presented by those opposing this proposition. Adoption of such policies results in cost savings on clothing expenses and enhances school safety. Moreover, the school uniform policy is deemed to reduce peer pressure in terms of the manner of dressing in school. These advantages ultimately lead to the inculcation of discipline and professionalism, which prepare students for the future. Furthermore, they significantly help students to focus on schoolwork resulting to improved academic performance.
King, Keith. Should school uniforms be mandated in elementary schools? 1998. 08 February 2006
Wikipedia. 08 February 2006