Dress Codes and Uniforms in School
The primary purpose of schools is to teach; however, students cannot learn unless they feel safe. The first notable instance of any public school making it essential for students to wear school uniforms was in the late 90s. Uniforms were introduced in the United States around 1979 due to the violence that was being presented in schools. President Clinton wanted to stop the gang war problems; therefore, the uniform policy was effectively implemented. The Philadelphia Board of Education made it compulsory for its students to wear school uniforms, in the year 2000. In 2009-2010, about 57 percent of public school principals reported that their schools enforced a dress code. Uniforms have been an important part of education for many years, although their use declined significantly during the middle of the 20th century. Overtime, courts were inundated by cases concerning individual freedoms and rights, and student disciplinary actions. Schools uniforms are primarily used to satisfy the two basic student needs: the right to freedom of expression and the need for a safe, productive learning environment. Although these two needs are extremely important, policy-makers must provide the appropriate balance between the two.
Dress codes and uniforms have significantly helped reduce the potential for conflict by reducing ways in which gang members can identify themselves, which eliminates fear and intimidation. The foremost of arguments is that it reduces a good amount of social conflicts in schools. Often, bullying in schools may be a result of how a person dresses. Students who are unable to follow the latest fashion trends are easy targets for bullies in school, causing them to have many insecurities about themselves. The efficacy of uniforms, in improving academic performance and student attitudes, is often debated. A study published in The Journal of Education Research by David L. Brunsma, of the University of Alabama, and Kerry A. Rockquemore, of the University of Notre Dame sates: “The findings indicate that student uniforms have no direct effect on substance use, behavioral problems, or attendance. A negative effect of uniforms on student academic achievement was found.” The cost of school uniforms can present a significant barrier to school attendance in developing nations. A randomized study showed that giving a school uniform reduces school absenteeism by 44% for the average student, and 62% for students who did not previously own a uniform. A book that was written in 2004, makes the case that uniforms do not improve school safety or academic discipline. On the other hand, a 2005 study indicates that in some Ohio high schools uniforms may have improved graduation and attendance rates, although no improvements were observed in academic performance. Although researchers are divided over how much of an impact-if any-dress policies have upon student learning, the important part is that the social problems and bullying that came along with not wearing uniforms are eliminated.