Uniforms in Public Schools

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While common around the world, in the United States school uniforms were until recently implemented in parochial and private schools, where they are viewed as a key element of the educational environment. In the 1980’s, however, interest in implementing school uniform programs in public schools began to grow (Curtright, 2008). This movement was parent, educator and administrator driven and based on the belief that uniforms would increase discipline, create a better learning environment and reduce violence in public schools (Curtright, 2010). The implementation of uniform policies in public schools has not been without much controversy. In the 16th century, England was the first nation to require school uniforms (Carson, n.d.). The uniforms were not worn by elite students; they were worn to distinguish the poor children attending charity schools from other children. It was not until the 19th century that the English public schools began instituting uniforms and even later for them to be widely accepted at state schools (HBC-SU, 1999). The reason Britain's public schools began instituting uniforms was the same reason educators in America's public schools have begun to require uniforms. The English public schools in the 18th and early 19th century had become anarchic and dangerous (HBC-SU, 1999). Conditions were so bad that many parents refused to send their boys and instead had them educated at home until they were ready for university. The uniformity in clothing was one of the measures designed to replace chaos with disciplined order. Uniforms were not the only change in the 19 century; compulsory games, stricter supervision of the student’s lives and morals, and a broadening of the classical curriculum were other implementations in English public schools (Carson, n.d.). Uniforms were introduced in the United States around 1979 to help resolve problems of violence among students who fought over designer clothes (Mehrotra, 2011). The uniform policy was implemented...
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