One of the chief benefits of school uniforms, say supporters, is that they make schools safer. Uniforms are said to reduce gang influence, minimize violence by reducing some sources of conflict, and help to identify trespassers. Parents benefit because they are no longer pressured to buy the latest fashions, and they spend less on their children's clothing. Uniforms are also claimed to help erase cultural and economic differences among students, and set a tone for serious study (Boutelle). Supporters also say uniforms enhance students' self-concepts, classroom behavior, and academic performance (Caruso).
Still, uniforms offer a variety of benefits, according to supporters. Uniforms "promote school safety and enhance the learning environment, and diminish the clothing competition," says Linda Rondeau, assistant superintendent of educational services at Pittsburg Unified School District. "Elementary was really all right with it, [since] most of the students at our sites had been voluntarily wearing uniforms for a couple of years," Rondeau says. "The junior high students were quite unhappy with it. Overall, parents were thrilled” (Caruso). As far as the clothing competition of who has the nicest or most expensive clothes, Judy Hunt-Brown, principal at Maeola R. Beitzel Elementary School in Sacramento, says classmates who are dressed alike are far less distracted. "Students spend less time talking about and analyzing everyone's dress. There are also fewer issues with the kind of shoes students need to have to be able to participate in physical education” (Isaacson). Many people would agree that a students’ safety is a top priority. With the growing levels of violence in schools today; parents, teachers, and school officials everywhere are starting to learn towards school uniforms as a positive way to reduce discipline problems and increase school safety. Argument Against School Unifroms:
For those people who oppose school uniforms, their main argument is based on the ideas that school uniform policies violate the students' First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, are used as an administrative power of social control, and may discriminate against students from minority backgrounds (Boutelle). Arguments against the belief that uniforms will erase social class differences, are opposed because policies do not apply to other items that can be used to convey status, such as jewelry, backpacks, and bikes. So a student will all these extras will still be viewed “better” in terms of social class. (Boutelle). To date, most legal challenges to dress-code policies have been based on either (1) claims that the school has broke the student's First Amendment right to free expression or (2) claims under the Fourteenth Amendment that the school has violated the student's liberty to control his or her personal appearance (Viadero). In developing a plan for banning “gang like attire”, whether through installing a dress code or a school uniform policy, there needs to be proof that; (1) there a direct link between the students’ attire and disruption of the school environment, and (2) is the prohibition specific enough to target the “gang like attire” without infringing on students' rights? "Any dress restriction that infringes on a student's First Amendment rights must be justified by a showing that the student's attire materially disrupts school operations, infringes on the rights of others at the school, or otherwise interferes with any basic educational mission of the school" (Isaacson). “To defend its action if challenged in court, a state must carefully define its interest when authorizing school districts to implement mandatory uniform policies. Policy-makers must be able to document that a problem exists” (Viadero). In conclusion, from this paper presented to you, the reader, ideas and opinions from others to help you create your own opinion on school uniforms. Whether you support or not, this is one argument that will ever be a unamious choice one way or the other.