Facts against School Uniforms
School Uniforms are a hot topic in America. Following President Clinton’s 1996 State of the Union address where he said "public schools should be able to require their students to wear uniforms", people on both sides of the argument have been putting their cases strongly.
School Uniforms in Britain
In the United Kingdom uniforms were the norm throughout most of the 20th Century and are still widespread, but the debate over their benefits and disadvantages is still raging some thirty years after quite a number of British comprehensive (public) schools stopped requiring students to wear uniforms.
School Uniforms in the USA
School principals in America often believe that bringing in uniforms will solve the school discipline problem at a stroke. Of course this is nonsense! Uniforms can be a small (read tiny) part of the mix of attitudes, techniques, rules and norms which lead to a happy successful peaceful school, but they are not a panacea. Furthermore, schools can become happy successful peaceful places without uniforms.
This is good news because there are many people who are against School Uniforms and they have produced arguments of some serious disadvantages to introducing a school uniform policy.
Disadvantages of a school uniform policy.
1) High Cost of School Uniforms- Uniforms are not cheap and this is a good reason to be against school uniforms. Because children are constantly growing, there is a captive market for new school clothes and manufacturers take advantage. However, large volume manufacturers are producing very cheap clothing for younger pupils at the moment so this argument against school uniforms may not stand up to too much scrutiny.
2) Corruption and School Uniforms - The temptation for a head teacher to enter a cozy relationship with a local blazer manufacturer should not be ignored. Various British authorities have had to deal with corrupt heads working the system to steal money from schools.
3) Freedom of Expression is stifled by School Uniforms- A uniform breeds uniformity. We need free thinking children to become the thinkers of tomorrow, not drones who will continue making the mistakes of pervious generations. When we argue against school uniforms we argue against an education system that seeks to produce workers and for an education system that seeks to produce enlightened fully rounded human beings.
4) School Uniforms do not cut down on bullying - No matter what you dress students in, they will always find a way to pass judgment upon their peers. The clothes are not the root cause of bullying and therefore the bullying will continue, regardless of dress policy. No matter what clothing rules apply, students will always find ways to pass judgment upon each other.
5) School Uniforms are not safe to wear. Traditionally almost all school uniforms for boys include a tie and this is an inherently dangerous item of clothing. As a schoolboy the author of this article was personally endangered when his tie was trapped in a doorframe which resulted in his face being squeezed against a glass window in the door so hard that the glass smashed. For this reason alone the author is against school uniforms.
6)School Uniforms are a back-door form of selection. In February 2007 the british government issued new guidelines designed to stop headteachers insisting that specific suppliers be used by parents buying uniforms. This was not an attempt to stamp out corruption (see point 2 above) but a way of ensuring that equal access to primary education is maintained. Middle class parents can more easily afford uniforms and so were more likely to send their children to such schools than working class parents. Hence, the net result was a form of selection by uniform, where these schools gradually grow richer to the detriment of other local establishments. This goes against the principles of equal education for all.
School Uniforms and the media
The guardian newspaper article Death of a schoolboy has an interesting comment on the topic of neckties.
These then are the common arguments against school uniforms. In response there are arguments for school uniforms that should not be discounted.
The economic argument for School Uniforms
While it is true that school uniforms cost money,it is equally true that in western society the peer group, fashion industry and other societal pressures pressures on kids to wear the 'right' trainers the 'cool' trousers or the particular style of top that is in fashion this month can lead to ostracism, bullying and emotional stress for those pupils whose parents are unable or unwilling to pay the price.
A school uniform in such circumstances can prove to be a cheaper way of dressing children, and one where the problems alluded to above to not come into play.
It should also be noted that wearing uniforms is not particularly burdensome for most students. Kids might not particularly like uniforms, but school uniforms rarely provide the catalyst for traumatic events in a pupil's life.
Teachers believe uniforms promote discipline
Teachers are broadly in favour of uniforms as an aid to in-class discipline. Ms J Brown, a head of faculty in an Essex secondary school believes 'The uniform serves as an ever-present visual reminder to the pupils of the rules we have in our school.'
Parents believe uniforms promote good standards
Results from a survey on school uniforms run by the DfES website were that a majority of UK parents think that school uniforms improve discipline, helps raise standards and reduced peer pressure and bullying.