15 November 2016
To the Future President of the United States:
As much as we hate to admit it, the way others see us depends heavily upon our outward appearance. First impressions rely on how one looks. Someone in baggy clothes might be perceived as lazy, in tight clothes speckled with cut outs might be perceived as inappropriate, and in clean, well-fitting clothes might be perceived as respectable. Should the first impression of someone looking at students be: “Wow, they look like they are nice kids” or “I would hate to be one of their parents”? A controversial issue in our society today is whether students should be required to wear uniforms to assist in this first impression. Some say it violates the constitution while others think it will decrease bullying. School uniforms should be enforced to promote equality, eliminate distractions, and help with keeping students safe.
Some people suggest having a dress code instead of a uniform. They often complain that requiring uniforms suppresses individuality, therefore a dress code would allow students to express themselves through their wardrobe. This, however, is not entirely true. Even with a dress code, students must look a certain way, so it can be time consuming to find clothes that fit both school and fashion rules. There are also many students who will push the envelope on the school rules because of this. Additional time is then spent futilely trying to enforce the dress code. This is valuable time that could instead be spent on teaching and working. Furthermore, there are other ways students can express individuality such as activities, electives, or writing. Accessorizing, within the school parameters of course, is a key way to do just that visually with jewelry, hairdos, backpacks, and other school supplies.
There are students who feel uncomfortable in a school uniform because it might not fit their body type or all they have are hand-me-downs. This can lead to them feeling ostracized and school can already be rough for many children who already do not feel like they fit in. Why add to it with uniform requirements? What some fail to notice is that in uniforms, everyone is wearing the same thing. This provides less opportunities for bullying since uniforms eliminate the unspoken contests of who has the cutest outfit, who wore it best, or how up-to-date is their style. The peer pressure to spend tons of money on the latest styles for a new outfit every day is taken away. Without stressing out over what to wear, students will have more time to focus on school work. Everyone looking similarly also promotes school unity, allowing students to feel connected. The head of the Center for Research on Aggression at Syracuse University, Arnold Goldstein, PhD, stated, "There is a sense of belonging," for troubled students and makes them feel as though they have the support of a community through these uniforms.
Another big issue with requiring uniforms it that parents feel that a line is being crossed onto their turf. It is as if schools are telling parents how to do their job and how to be a parent. What they may fail to realize it that uniforms can benefit the safety of their children. Uniforms tend to make it difficult to hide things such as weapons, unlike baggy clothes. ProCon.org backs this saying, “A 2010 peer-reviewed study found that schools with uniform policies had 12% fewer firearm-related incidents and 15% fewer drug-related incidents than schools without uniforms.” Additionally, uniforms help the faculty to more easily keep track of the students whether it is on the campus itself or out on a field trip. While keeping track of students, those teachers might also notice when there is an intruder in their midst. Being able to identify that person who does not belong with them, is important for the safety of the students. Other studies mentioned by the ProCon website concluded that schools in Long Beach, California, and one in Nevada were much safer after instituting uniform policies.
School uniforms should be enforced for these and countless other reasons. Some will claim this violates their first amendment rights, but that is not true. This amendment states that people have freedom of speech and press but how a person dresses is neither of these. Just because students are required to wear a uniform does not mean their voices are silenced. They can express themselves in so many other ways and school lets out eventually during which time they can dress however they please. Please consider these points for policies you may come across in your time of service¬.
"Dress Codes versus School Uniforms." Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2014. Student Resources in Context, bit.ly/2g2wwSy. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.
"Should Students Have to Wear School Uniforms?" ProCon.org, 1 June 2016, school-uniforms.procon.org/. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.