By: Noor Hadad
School uniform policies have been increasing for schools in America. Many students disapprove this because teens want then ability to express themselves through fashion. Critics contend that by imposing dress requirements, schools infringe upon students’ inherent ability to express through fashion, a right protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Many opponents liken schools’ use of uniforms to placing a “band-aid” on an open wound (Wilde). But, Supporters of school uniforms insist that dress codes improve the learning environment in schools by installing a sense of discipline in the student body, therefore reducing student behavior and getting better grades. Thus, school uniforms should be banned in public schools.
Uniforms in school permit teens to wear designer clothing and be able to express themselves in order to develop as individuals. People can’t be who they are if they wear the same thing every day (Richardson). Most opponents of school uniforms do not believe that dress codes are linked to better student performance. While many critics concede that uniforms may have a slight impact on student behavior, they argue that they do not increase students’ learning (“Uniforms Do Not Improve Student Learning”). In the eyes of many opponents, dress codes have never been proven to be effective in improving test scores or reducing conflict among students. If school administrators are truly interested in improving students’ educational experience, opponents maintain, they should allocate more funds to developing educational infrastructure and be less concerned with controlling students’ fashion choices (“School Uniforms”).
Concessions and Rebuttal
Although school uniforms are unfair to most students, uniforms can also have a great impact. Supporters of school uniforms insist that dress codes improve the learning environment in schools by instilling a sense of discipline in the student body. By eliminating the distractions created by designer clothing, uniforms force students to focus their attention to the teacher and absorb classroom lessons. As a result, they say, students are more likely to absorb classroom lessons and perform better on exams (“School Uniforms”). Backers explain that without dress codes, students from wealthy families sometimes wear expensive clothing and flaunt it in front of their peers. By requiring all the students to wear the same thing, supporters say, such peering is eliminated and the income gap between rich and poor students becomes less visible. In general, proponents of school uniforms contend that dress codes play an important role in shaping students’ attitude toward school work and academic life (“Student Dress Codes Promoted”).
Pros and Cons
- Help prevent gangs from forming on campus
- Encourage discipline
- Help students resist peer pressure to buy trendy clothes
- Help identify intruders in the school
- Diminish economic and social barriers between students
- Increase a sense of belonging and school pride
- Improve attendance
Opponents contend that school uniforms:
- Violate a students' right to freedom of expression
- Are simply a "band-aid" on the issue of school violence
- Make students a target for bullies from other schools
- Are an unfair additional expense for parents who pay taxes for a free public education
- Are difficult to enforce in public schools