Public schools across the United States have been dealing with the issue of dress codes. As of 2008, twenty-two U. S. states specifically authorized schools to institute dress codes or uniform policies (8). School boards may generally create and enforce dress code, but they must do so without violating students’ constitutional law (9). Schools are finding difficulty in enforcing their dress code among students. Parents feel as if the schools dress codes are condoning their students for expressing themselves and say that it is unconstitutional and wrong.
Parents, students, and administrators all have the idea of uniforms in the back of their mind but, they will have to give up things to have them. Though a dress code for high schools students is appropriate, uniforms would be a better option. Dress codes are one of the largest controversial topics talked about around the country. Everyone has a different opinion. Parents are raging; some because their kid can’t wear a certain outfit to school, and some because they believe that kids dress inappropriate at school.
Let’s discuss some of the big dress code issues in schools’; for the girls, tank tops, short/skirt length, crop tops, shoulders showing, and bra straps. For the boys; baggy pants, muscle shirts, and tee-shirts promoting bad ideals. For both; offensive jewelry, offensive shirts, sweatpants, and even confederate flag (one student actually got sent home because she was wearing a confederate flag shirt, when you could see her belly button, and she had super short shorts on (3)) & U. S. flag clothing are a problem (9). Schools shouldn’t be able to tell their students that they cannot wear clothing in support of their own country.
Many students who follow the latest fashion trends- such as oversized shirts & slouchy jeans for boys or short skirts & mid-drift tops for girls- break dress code policies (9). What these kids see every day in magazines, on television, and online, influence them, something’s such as the clothing trend. A parent stated, “Maybe the problem is that fashion is changing so rapidly, administrators don’t see past what their 1970’s dress code was” (10). The number of schools with “strict dress code policies has increased from 47% in 2000 to 57% in 2010.
Schools across the country are grappling with whether to enforce strict dress code policies that may interfere with a students’ right to self-expression (9). The line must be drawn of what is unconstitutional and what is for the kids good and for their safety. Another problem with school dress codes are how the administration handles the situation. One student from the Charleston County School of the arts, was told by an administrator that she was “asking for it”, “selling herself the wrong way”, and that her “body was gross” (10). That is not right in any way. “A dress code should never body shame anyone” (10).
If they had uniforms the administrators wouldn’t have to say anything. Dress codes should not be based on body type (10). We hear so many stories of how children get down on themselves because of their appearance. Numerous times at my school | have witnessed one student get in trouble, for example about her shorts being to short and she was a bigger girl, but then a small girl walks by with the same length shorts on and no one says anything to her. It is not fair. A teacher should never let one student get away with what another would not. Dress codes in schools are such a hassle.
Public school systems would be better off if they had uniforms. Uniforms would be a good fit. Students would view themselves are responsible adolescents with uniforms. One and five public schools required uniforms during 2011-2012, up from one and eight in 2003-2004 (8). There are many benefits to having uniforms in schools. Some of these benefits are, lessening crime and increasing student safety (8). Keeping students focused on their education not their clothing. Uniforms would bring uniformity to the school making students feeling welcome to associate with other students (8).
They create equality among students (8). Uniforms created a level playing field for students, lowering peer pressure and bullying because students feel like they do not need to compete with other students for who has the best clothing since they are all wearing the same thing (8). Uniforms give students more school pride since most schools have their kids wear school colors. Uniforms are easier to enforce than the dress code, students will be wearing what there supposed to and really cannot break the dress code (8).
Uniforms make getting ready for school easier in the morning as well, as students do not have to search for an outfit because they already know what they will be wearing (8). Students view dress as a symbol of identification, self-expression, and a regulator of expected behavior (6). If students dress professional they will act professional. Brunsma and Rockquemore examined data from ” The 1998 National Educational Longitudinal Study” and the “Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. They stated that student uniforms had no direct effect on behavior (6).
Long Beach California’s school adopted uniforms and by doing that great things happened. Their crime rate dropped by 91%, their school suspensions dropped by 90%, their sex offenses dropped by 96%, and their vandalism incidents decreased by 69%. Tas a student, asked some of my classmates how they felt about the study. My results were that, when people dress nicely they feel like they have to be respectful and act professional, even if it is just at school. They told me if they just wear sweatpants to school they feel lazy and do not want to participate in class.
I think Brunsma and Rockqumore were wrong. Having uniforms does have the impact of money. Some schools pay for the uniforms for their students, but some schools have the parents buy the uniforms. For some families this can give them financial struggles. On the bright side uniforms do usually cost less than average clothing. Uniforms on average cost around $150 dollars for the full uniform (8). In 2014, statics state that 20% of public K-6 schools have uniforms and 12% of 7-12 schools have uniforms (8). In fact, a higher percent of schools in cities than in suburban, town, rural areas have uniforms (8).
If you talk to kids normally most of them do not want uniforms. Which is understandable. They do not want there freedom taken away. I agree with that too, but what kids need to realize is there are bigger issues than them getting there “clothing freedoms” taken away. There is a big history behind when America starting using uniforms. Uniforms in the U. S. actually followed the traditional use of uniforms established in England (8). America is not the only country with school dress codes. The first school dress code law, in America, was established in 1869, by the U. S. supreme court (9).
The first public schools known to institute uniforms, in America, were in Maryland and Washington D. C. in 1987 (8). Are uniforms worth the trouble, yes they are. Uniforms would be great in any school. Uniforms have been around in America since the late 1800’s. They must be a good thing if they are still here today. Nearly 30% of the whole country requires uniforms! Schools have been showing wonderful reports on how uniforms are doing. Students feel as if they have a responsibility to uphold with uniforms. Knowing that their classmate are going to look like them is a good thing.
Yes, they cant “express” themselves in the way they want but that is worth loosing to decrease the bullying problem in schools. From the California study you can see that uniforms are making a huge impact on schools and the behavior. Uniforms also help the administrators enforce a code of dress. If students have a specific outfit they must wear everyday there is not much room for leeway. Which helps decrease students getting pulled out of class for dress code violations (10), school suspensions, and just students getting in trouble in general. Uniforms help the parents out too.
Uniforms are cheaper than buying outfits for their child, since uniforms are only around $150. Uniforms are douing great things for schools. They are helping students reach academic success, stopping bullying, and fixing behavioral problems. They are helping parents buy clothes for their kids, and making their children happy as well. Uniforms are taking the stress load off of administrators as now with uniforms they can do their job protecting, teaching, and helping the student, instead of having to yell at them everyday. Call me old fashioned, but I think having uniforms beats having a strict school dress code anyday!