Featured Story: Dress Codes and School Uniforms: Pros and Cons To Them

David Harvey, Staff Writer

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Mandatory uniform policies in public schools are found more commonly in high-poverty areas. Proponents say that having to wear a uniform in school makes it a safer place, creates a “level playing field” that reduces socioeconomic disparities, and encourage other students to focus on their studies rather than their clothes. Opponents say that uniforms infringe students’ freedom to express their individuality, have no positive effect of behavior and academic achievements, and and emphasize the socioeconomic disparities they are intended to disguise. The amount of pros and cons are very near equal. Picking your clothes out each morning is something you should be accustomed to at some point. It is a crucial form of self expression. Uniforms are also there for the people who can’t really afford clothing for school, for the kids who worry about what their clothes says about them. A “Level playing field” is created. Most students’ don’t want to have to be told what to do let alone what to wear. They want to wear their designer clothing if they have it or can afford it. Students’ and parents who don’t have the kind of money to afford clothing of that nature have a tendency to want it. Some just simply dont care. Something that doesn’t happen too often anymore, to my knowledge at l

east, is robbery and even murder over this type of clothing. Students’ have been killed over designer clothing, shoes, jackets, and even glasses in the past years. “It didn’t surprise me that kids would become violent and really ferocious about these shoes, because the way [companies] market them, they market them as if they’re the dream,”  Mike Epps explained. Also something that doesn’t take place to much outside of the inner cities is students wearing gang affiliated colors proudly. But where this has been a regular problem, uniforms helped bring that to a halt.

Wearing a school uniform can reduce bullying and constant peer pressure about what you are or are not wearing. As said before it creates a “level playing field” for students. On the other hand it seems to make students become even more physical. According to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Office of Education Evaluation and Management, fights in middle schools nearly doubled within one year of introducing mandatory uniforms. A peer-reviewed study found that “school uniforms increased the average number of assaults by about 14 [per year] in the most violent schools.” Parents in the state of Florida could be jailed if they do not simply comply with the new mandatory uniform policy in 1999. Superintendent Glenn Reynolds stated that parents who allow their children to be dressed out of uniform are “contributing to the delinquency of a child” Uniforms seem to create more problems than they resolve. For the parents who can’t afford to buy their kids stylish clothing, School uniforms are supposed to help those who can’t afford clothes but Shirts plus pants plus shoes add up quickly, so I was not surprised to find that the average cost of school uniforms for parents is $249.

It is hoped for that wearing a uniform will make students focus on their studies and school in general. They hope for it to make their students attendance and preparedness improve but it simply doesn’t. The studies contradict themselves. Studies say it is right but other studies say it isn’t. It makes sense that students confined to wearing a uniform everyday will not change the way they think if that is what schools are hoping. No one wants to be confined to wearing the same thing everyday, it seems to much like a prison. Late satirist George Carlin asked, “Don’t these schools do enough damage, making all these children think alike? Now they’re gonna get them to look alike, too?” When students have to wear the same outfits, rather than being allowed to select clothes that suit their body types, they can suffer embarrassment at school. Not only do most students find uniforms uncomfortable to wear, it could ruin your self perception. Students’ in some schools have enough of a hard time following the dress code itself and to implement uniforms would be devastating to them. Schools are better off creating set and strict rules about dress code that must be enforced. If the rules are not enforced they become almost non-existent for they are walked all over. A dress code is better than a code that involves you to wear the same thing everyday or no code at all. Students find it easier to compare themselves to others when wearing the same thing especially girls. Students from schools without uniforms reported higher self-perception scores than students from schools with uniform policies. Proponents say “Students can express their individuality in school uniforms by introducing variations and adding accessories.” from the color of your nails to the color of your socks can change much in a world where everyday you must wear the same style clothing. It is the little accents that come with the everyday attire that you can spice up and make different. So there is a way to express yourself in the worst of times, when it seems like you can’t, there’s always someone who finds a way to be different and express themselves. Whether it be different buttons or shoe laces or hair style. Hair is very solid way to express yourself. Uniforms do not completely strip you from your freedom to express yourself but it does strip you from your freedom to dress however you please.