Public School Uniform Debate - South Kitsap School District

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Public School Uniform Debate
The public school uniform debate has been an issue for educators, parents, and students for years. This article has information on the
pros and cons of public school uniform from educators', parents', and students' views.
While school uniforms are typically found in private schools, it may have only been in 1987 that the first public school "Cherry Hill
Elementary in Baltimore, MD" instituted a school uniform policy. Then, in 1994, the Long Beach Unified School District in California
adopted a mandatory uniform policy in some of its schools, making it the first urban district to do so. Though public school uniform
use is not widespread, it is growing. The question of what students should wear to school rouses strong feelings on both sides. Here
are some arguments for and against the use of school uniforms.
While school uniforms are typically found in private schools, it may have only been in 1987 that the first public school - Cherry Hill
Elementary in Baltimore, MD - instituted a school uniform policy. Then, in 1994, the Long Beach Unified School District in
California adopted a mandatory uniform policy in some of its schools, making it the first urban district to do so. Though public school
uniform use is not widespread, it is growing.
Reasons For and Against School Uniforms
Educators, parents, and students site many reasons in favor of school uniforms:
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School administrators face a complicated task setting a dress code: with inappropriate coverage (for example, strapless,
halter, and midriff tops and too-short skirts and shorts) and inappropriate insignia (for example, slogans for alcohol and
cigarettes and clothing with vulgar language or representing otherwise objectionable connections, such as gang membership),
it may be easier to have a uniform than to detail and enforce independently chosen clothing.
Dress code aside, the interest in fashion and fad combined with peer pressure can lead to pressure to spend money that some
families can ill afford: school uniforms refocus this issue.
Wearing of school uniforms prevents the formation of dress-identified cliques
The wearing of school uniforms emphasizes membership and group identity, fostering a community spirit.
Crimes involving stealing items of apparel are unlikely to be perpetrated if everyone’s apparel is identical.
Because students can be easily identified, intruders in the school setting can be more readily identified and students on field
trips are more easily accounted for.
The wearing of school uniforms helps students to realize that a person’s unique gifts and personality traits go deeper than
their apparel and aren’t diminished by uniform dress.
Other educators, parents, and students are opposed to school uniforms and give reasons like the following:
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Uniforms interfere with students’ rights for self-expression.
Uniforms are an unnecessary expense and can create an economic hardship themselves.
Uniforms are an unnecessary exertion of power by administrators who don’t know how to exercise responsible authority.
The wearing of uniforms does not prevent the formation of cliques or gangs.
The wearing of uniforms does not prevent students from expressing unpopular or inappropriate views in other ways.
School uniforms can be ugly and/or unflattering, and having to wear something unattractive or unflattering is not good for
students’ self-image.
The wearing of uniforms my delay or prevent students from having to learn how to get alongside of people whose personal
taste differs markedly from their own and which they may find unappealing.
The wearing of school uniforms may give students the impression that conformity is the way to prevent conflict, and this is
not an appropriate message for schools to send.
The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), which includes middle level principals, has not taken an official
stand on school uniforms, leaving it to be decided school-by-school.
Public School Uniforms Sources:
 naesp.org
 nmsa.org
Related Articles
Public School Uniform Statistics
EducationBug.org
Public School Uniform Statistics
Private schools often require students to wear school uniforms. Some public schools are now adopting uniform policies. Keep reading
for information on public school uniform statistics and the ongoing school uniform debate.
While school uniforms are typically found in private schools, it may have only been in 1987 that the first public school--Cherry Hill
Elementary in Baltimore, MD--instituted a school uniform policy. Then, in 1994, the Long Beach Unified School District in California
adopted a mandatory uniform policy in some of its schools, making it the first urban district to do so. The adoption of school uniforms
for all 200,000 students by the Philadelphia Board of Education in May, 2000 was another landmark. Though public school uniform
use is not widespread, it is growing.
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Although the states with the most students who wear school uniforms are the five big population states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York,
and Texas, the ten cities with the most students in uniform are actually in eight different states and the District of Columbia:
o Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA
o New York City, NY
o Houston, TX
o Philadelphia, PA
o Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
o Washington, DC
o New Orleans, LA
o Detroit, MI
o Jacksonville, FL
o Atlanta, GA
Schools in 21 states and the District of Columbia have some sort of uniform requirements.
Some cities have widespread uniform use in their public schools:
o 95% of New Orleans’ public schools require uniforms
o 85% of Cleveland’s public schools require uniforms
o 80% of Chicago’s public schools require uniforms
o 65% of Boston’s public schools require uniforms
o 60% of Miami’s public schools require uniforms
o 50% of Cincinnati’s public schools require uniforms
After the first public school began using uniforms, there was a considerable increase in the use of uniforms, partly fueled by President Bill
Clinton mentioning the benefits of school uniforms in his inaugural address in 1996, as indicated in a report from the National Center for
Education Statistics (NCES):
o Prior to the 1994-1995 school year only about three-quarters of one percent of students in the US were required to wear uniforms.
o By the 1996-1997 school year, that number had increased about four-fold to 3 percent. • A marketing research group, NDP Group, Inc.,
reported that school-uniform sales were valued at $900 million in 1999 and rose 22% to $1.1 billion in 2000.
The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) conducted a phone survey of 755 principals in 2000, which revealed that:
o 21% of all public schools had a uniform policy
o 23% of all public, private, and sectarian schools either had a uniform policy, were in the process of creating one, or had firm plans in place
to create one.
o 71% of the 755 schools represented did not require uniforms and were not considering requiring them.
A case study of the effects of adopting school uniforms in Long Beach, CA which appeared in Psychology Today in September, 1999, reported
the following effects from the switch to uniforms in 1995:
o Overall, the crime rate dropped by 91%
o School suspensions dropped by 90%
o Sex offenses were reduced by 96%
o Incidents of vandalism went down 69%
Also reporting on the Long Beach Unified School District, an Education Week article in 1998 reported that since 1994, assaults in grades
Kindergarten through 8 had decreased by 85%.
Public School Uniform Statistics Sources:
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findarticles.com
nces.ed.gov
ecs.org
naesp.org
EducationBug.org
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