wearuniforms. Can uniforms really make a difference in a child’s academic performance?Wouldn’t uniforms infringe the child’s creativity and self expression? The clothes don’tmake the child right (Hempill A15)? Wrong. School uniforms can drastically reduceschool violence and help a student to focus on school work. In 1996, President Clinton endorsed public school uniforms in his State of theUnion Address(Atkins 42). This created a rage among some education critics across thecountry.
Critics complain that uniforms will lessen children’s individualism and creativity,infringing students’ rights and hint of racism. While proponents believe, uniforms will putthe students emphasis on schoolwork instead of dressing coolly, and they will help tolower school violence. The idea comes from a Californian elementary school in Long Beach. In 1994,Long Beach became the country’s first public school district to institute a mandatoryuniform policy”(Atkins 42). The results were so promising that they lead to thePresident’s endorsement. The school saw a fifty-one percent drop in physical fights, athirty-four percent drop in assaults and batteries, a fifty percent drop in weapons offenses,and a thirty-two percent drop in school suspensions(Mancini 65).
All this in a time span ofonly one year. Proving that a child’s clothes does make a difference in school violence. In a time when school children are getting killed for designer jackets and shoes,uniforms are exactly what our children need(Mancini 63). Critics say that school uniforminhibit self expression. If you take away a child’s self expression through clothing, youforce that child to express his or herself in other ways. This might even force a child toresort to even more violent forms of expression, like through writing and art.
In today’s society, students are fighting each other in schools, because of otherstudents that wear rival gangs colors and clothing. I went to school in a town with apopulation of about only ten-thousand residents. In our relatively small school, classeswere disrupted several times, because one student was wearing another student’s rivalgang’s colors causing outbursts and fights. This problem is one that occurrences daily inbig city schools, but a problem uniforms can help remedy. Uniforms eliminate gangclothing like baggy pants, belts with initials on the buckles, halter tops, or certain gangcolored clothing items.
The uniforms can also help to identify outsiders within a school. Drug dealers would have wear uniforms in order to be able to roam the school yardwithout being spotted. The uniforms can also help parents save money. A parent can pay anywhere fromsixty to a hundred dollars for a pair of pants, forty to sixty dollars on a single shirt, andeighty to one hundred-fifty dollars for a pair of shoes. A student would need to have atleast five to six different outfits to wear to school.
Where as a child wearing a uniformonly would need two sets of clothes for class. The uniforms may vary, but most uniformsconsist of basic colored slacks and a basic colored collared shirt. They can be purchasedfor as little as forty dollars at discount stores and the most expensive being around ahundred dollar. Besides saving parents hundreds of dollars, school uniforms also help toerase lines between the social classes. Since all students will be dressed alike, it will beimpossible to tell the difference from a students from low income family and one from ahigh income family.
I went to a public school for nine years, before transferring to a private school. Atthe public school my enthusiasm was minimal at best. My parent are not rich, and I had towear clothes that were not consider cool. This automatically put me out of the coolgroup.
I felt unhappy and left out. I did not go to school functions, because I felt I wasnot cool enough and would not fit in. Going to a private school and having to wearuniforms remedied that. I longer was not cool, just because I did not wear the rightclothes. Students did not judge me by my apparel, instead I was judged by my personality. My grades improved and I graduated as student body president.
When I talk to oldfriends from the public school, they are amazed at how much I have changed . I don’tcredit all of this to uniforms, but they sure allowed a side of me to be seen that most of thestudents at the public school never bothered to look for. Can uniforms make a difference? If they save one life or allow one child to be fitin, they can. No one claims that uniforms are the fix all for the public school system, butthey are a start. Uniforms will give all students a chance to fit in regardless of their socialstanding. They will also take the student’s focus off of having the right clothes and put itback on having the right attitude.
Works CitedAtkins, Andrea. “School Dress. ” Better Homes and Gardens Aug. 1996. 42-43. Hemphill, Clara.
“Clothes Don’t Make the Child. ” New York Times 21 Mar 1998:A14Mancini, Gail Hinchion. “School Uniforms: Dressing for Success or Conformity?”Education Digest Dec. 1997. 62-65.