As the end of the summer approaches parents often start to stress out knowing that their kids are going to want a new wardrobe, equipped with designer labels, for the upcoming school year. When I went to public school in Dayton Texas my parents would spend about three hundred dollars per child on clothes and shoes for a new school year. That’s almost one thousand dollars for three children to have “cool” back to school clothes. With the school uniforms policy in affect parents are only expected to spend about $162 per child (Wilde, Kakoulas and Modenbach). There are also foundations and uniform drives for those who can’t afford the certain things some schools may require. I attended a Catholic high school where uniforms and dress codes were strictly enforced and sometimes the cost could add up. Previous students who already graduated would donate their old uniforms for children who could not afford both the high tuition cost and the cost of uniforms. In an article from Education World’s website they suggest that adopting a foundation for making arrangements for needy families (School Uniforms: Panacea or Band Aid).
In an interview with a former student at St. John High School, a Catholic school in Plaquemine, LA, Heather Trahan explained how when she was a senior they had a strictly enforced uniform policy but also had choices of what they could wear. “They required that we wore either the assigned plaid shorts/skirt or navy pants. We also had the choice of a white polo or a yellow button up, both with the school logo.” She goes on to say that “The year after I graduated the school thought that students had too much freedom in their uniforms and eliminated some of their choices.” The students were upset by this decision because they felt like they should have choices and not just one shirt or one pant. I think the school made a very good decision in cutting down on the uniform choices. It is still stressful for parents who have to get up and try to dress their young child for school when they have the choice of this or that shirt, pants, shorts, a jumper or skirt. A few weeks ago I saw a comedian who’s daughter goes to that same school; an elementary student at St. John in Plaquemine. He went on to explain that getting his young daughter dressed in the morning is so stressful because it takes her thirty minutes to decide jumper or shorts. Though his skit was funny, he had a very good point. At public schools the uniforms are much different than at Catholic schools. Most just require some sort of kaki pant with a specified color of a collared shirt. In an article from MCLEAN’S, a Canadian weekly news magazine, Bev Akerman argues against school uniforms saying “How much uniform is enough uniform?” complaining about the style of shirt or shoe that is required at her sons school. I’m not sure that Bev realizes that these rules are made for a reason. Requirements like these are to eliminate the bullying and teasing in schools. In a recent poll 81% of voters say school uniforms help prevent gang violence, bullying and discrimination based on income level or style choice (Wilde, Kakoulas and Modenbach). With the freedom to wear whatever you want children can express their individuality but can also use certain colors and things to represent their gangs.
President Bill Clinton had a lot to do with the school uniform movement. In a 1996 State of the Union Speech he said “If it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear uniforms”. President Clinton has a very good point. At California’s Long Beach Unified School District in 1994 they adopted a mandatory school uniform policy and the statistics showed that school crime at the school dropped by 76% and suspensions were down (Boutelle).Since I have been to schools that require uniforms and schools that don’t, I would have to say that in the school where we didn’t have to wear uniforms I would see students getting picked on for their clothes every day. Big baggy clothes and the “gothic” look were in so it would have been very easy for someone to hide a gun or knife in their clothes.
It is wonderful to walk into a school and see everyone dressed the same and getting along. As an adult no matter where you work you will always be required to wear some kind of uniform or will have a dress code. Enforcing uniforms on students will teach them that for the rest of their lives they will be under this sort of pressure to dress in a specific way. Even though dress codes and uniforms will limit the ways one can express their individuality, kids can do this outside of school. Going to school should not be a fashion show but a place to learn. It teaches them discipline and respects for others by realizing that without designer clothes, the poorer students are just the same as the students who have wealthier families. Although there are some downfalls to school uniforms they ultimately save money, reduce violence and help students to feel more united as equals while in school.
Akerman, B. (2005). White Tops, Grey Bottoms. MACLEAN'S , 57. Bouyelle, M. (2008). UNIFORMS:Are they a good fit? The Education Digest , 34-35. School Uniforms: Panacea or Band-Aid. (1996). Retrieved October 5, 2008, from Education World: http://www.educationworld.com/a_issues/issues060.shtml Wilde, M., Kakoulas, M., Modenbach, K., Larkin, C., Armerding, T., Bailey, C., et al. (2008). Dress Codes in Schools. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.