School Uniforms: The Answer to Help Improve Safety and Create a Better Learning Environment for Public Schools in America Danielle Grider Ivy Tech Community College ENG111-15H-H1 April 15, 2012 Wendy Kruger School Uniforms: The Answer to Help Improve Safety and Create a Better Learning Environment for Public Schools in America Public schools across America are searching for ways to improve safety, the sense of equality and to also help parents save money. One way to improve all these issues would be to adopt a school uniform policy.
The adoption of the uniform policies will help improve public schools in America.
School uniforms are defined as a set of standardized clothes worn primarily for an educational institute, usually in a primary or secondary school system. Male uniforms usually consist of dark short or long pants, and a light-colored shirt, and in some schools, ties must be worn. Female uniforms usually vary, but mainly consist of a dress or blouse worn either with a skirt or pants.
This type of uniforms seems to be pretty strict and unfair to the students but the actual uniforms worn at most public schools consist of a polo shirt with pants, shorts, or skirts.
In 1987, Cherry Hill Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, became the first school to adopt a uniform policy (Education Bug, 2010). After this school district successfully implemented a uniform policy, there was a dramatic increase in the use of school uniforms in the United States, which was inspired by former President Bill Clinton. President Clinton proposed a challenge to all of our schools to teach character education, along with good values and good citizenship. If it means that our teenagers will stop killing each other over designer labels, then schools should require students to wear a uniform everyday to school (Brunsma, 2006).
His speech was just the beginning of the very controversial uniform debate, and people on both sides of the arguments have tried hard to make sure that their case is heard. The main reason uniforms should be implemented is because uniforms can improve safety in schools in many ways. According to Stephen Daniels (2001), who is the director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, dress codes and uniforms reduce conflict associated with name brand and gang related clothing, decrease the gap between the poorer and richer students, and encourage a sense of equality that helps with the overall order and discipline.
Daniel’s gives statistics to show the effectiveness of school uniforms according to principals that have a uniform policy in their schools: 79 percent believe uniforms have positive effects on classroom discipline; 67 percent saw an improvement in student concentration; 62 percent noticed a positive effect on school safety; and 75 percent indicated a positive effect on peer pressure among students (2001). Uniforms take some of the judgments away from labels some students acquire because of the clothing they wear.
The positive effects from this can reduce the current problem of bullying in schools, which is a major issue in the United States today. Uniforms can also help with school safety by reducing ways in which gang members can identify themselves, decreasing the number of conflicts stemming from socioeconomic status, such as comments and personal attacks about who has better clothes, and helping school faculty to easily identify non student trespassers, and other visitors in the hallways who would stand out in a crowd.
Safety in schools today is essential, and creating an environment that reduces incidents of intimidation and violence is essential for students to learn. Evidence of the effects of a uniform policy can be seen after Californians Long Beach school district adopted a uniform policy. Since they began the policy, crime in the district has dropped 91 percent, vandalism dropped 69 percent, and sex offenses have dropped 96 percent. It should be noted that these improvements were made without any other security measures being implemented at the time uniforms became mandatory (Brunsma, 2006).
Although, I don’t believe uniforms are the answer to all violence in schools, it’s a solution that should be considered along with other measures. School uniforms do not only help with safety, but schools with uniforms say that students have better self-esteem because without name brand clothing, students feel they are on equal level with each other. Students who come from poorer families do not feel and are not treated as inferior because they don’t have all the popular name brand clothing. Since everyone will
have on the same color, the uniforms may be viewed as a way to bring the children closer together, by having the same effect as sport uniforms. According to Larry Wilder (2007), head of the Center for Research on Aggression at Fresno Pacific University School of Education, uniforms encourage a “sense of belonging” because they promote unity among the students and help a troubled student feel like a part of a supportive whole instead of an outcast. These effects contribute to a schools overall sense of order and discipline.
Because of this, students were more willing to attend school on a regular basis without the fear of being harmed. Now that the students are free from peer pressure and violence, some school officials have indicated that the wearing of a uniform has led to higher grades on tests and better behavior in the classroom. Although this is a theory, evidence has proved that wearing uniforms has provided a direct link to better grades; however, this has not been totally proven.
There is evidence, however, that supports there are fewer discipline problems and higher attendance rates since they installed a uniform policy. Jessica Portner, editor of Teacher Magazine, states that they implemented a uniform policy at the beginning of 1994-1995 school year and over the years have had tremendous success. There have been better grades that contributed to higher achievement along with fewer behavioral problems and expulsions. She states that the students come dressed for success and this makes them do better in school (Portner, 2012).
If students are in an environment at school where they don’t have to worry about the way they dress then, of course, there will be more concentration in class. Less distraction will mean better ability to focus in the classroom, which will result in better behavior. Of course, there will always be some students that just do not want to learn and will be trying to distract everyone. Another aspect of the uniform debate is the cost of these uniforms for parents and how they may affect the average family’s budget. Uniform costs can get expensive depending on what uniform schools have chosen.
If the school requires a basic polo shirt and khaki pants, then that cost will not be near as much as in schools where ties and blazer jackets are required. Although many think that cost plays a huge factor for the families that are unable to afford them, but there are several programs available to help students pay for their uniforms. Types of assistance may include: school district or businesses providing the uniforms, the school working out a payment plan for the uniform, and graduating students giving their used uniforms to the school to help out other students (Leyba, 1996).
The school systems are willing, in every way possible, to help families of all income levels to provide the best education for their children because uniforms are made to last and can be washed easily and frequently. According to the earlier statistic, the price of a uniform can become quite expensive especially if the child is constantly outgrowing the clothes and normal wear and tear. The typical uniforms cost between $65-75 per year for a set of three – far less than what some students spend for one item of designer clothing.
Basic uniforms may be obtained at local thrift stores, department stores or uniform suppliers (Portner, 2012). With a uniform costing less than $200. 00, the parents spend less money because they have fewer clothes to buy. This way, the outfit stays the same year around, and parents might only have to replace the shirt or pants occasionally, instead of the replacing the entire outfit. There are many positive reasons why all schools should have a uniform policy. There are many facts that support the argument, but there are still many parents and students that are strongly against it.
Many believe that the children of the future will lose themselves and not be able to make their own decision on the types of clothes that are appropriate. Since school uniforms have become more and more common in the United States, there has been one issue that many parents and students are worried about: some believe students will not have the ability to express themselves. The First Amendment guarantees our right to free expression, however students sometime believe that uniforms take away that right.
Since uniform policies are put into place for the safety of students and to improve education, others believe the purpose simply outweighs the students’ interest in expressing themselves through their clothing. They also feel that school uniforms do not suppress freedom of speech in any way, therefore students still have their First Amendment rights. In conclusion, school uniforms can improve school safety, create a sense of equality, and create a positive learning environment.
As more public schools in the United States adopt the uniform policy, the statistics will continue to rise, showing just how much they can improve a school. If students and parents take the time to understand exactly how the policy works and the benefits of it, then more and more will come to believe that in today’s society, school uniforms are the right choice. References “School Uniforms. ” Current Issues: Macmillan Social Science Library. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. http://ic. galegroup. com. indianapolis. libproxy. ivytech.
edu. allstate. libproxy. ivytech. edu/ic/ovic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow? displayGroupName=Reference&disableHighlighting=true&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=GALE%7C00000000LVYX&documentId=GALE%7CPC3021900151&mode=view&userGroupName=imcpl45550&jsid=9e8c76f2d4dde154c48fbd93433b9a87 Daniels, Stephen. “School Dress Codes Are Necessary and Constitutional. ” Students’ Rights. Ed. Jamuna Carroll. Opposing Viewpoints Series. Greenhaven Press, 2005. Web. 27 Oct. 2011? http://ic. galegroup. com. indianapolis. libproxy. ivytech. edu. allstate. libproxy. ivytech.
edu/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow? displayGroupName=Viewpoints&disableHighlighting=false&prodId=OVIC&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010398217&mode=view&userGroupName=imcpl45550&jsid=53b8eba91dbb0a52279d71d80a709692 Education Bug. (2010). Retrieved July 9, 2010, from Public School Uniform Statistics: http://www. educationbug. org/a/public-school-uniform-statistics. html ehow. com. (1999). Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://www. ehow. com/about_5462433_school-uniforms. html Leyba, R. b. (1996, Feb 29). Manual On School Uniforms. Retrieved July 5,
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