In his 1996 State of the Union speech, President Bill Clinton stated, “If it means teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms” The topic of whether or not school uniforms are a good idea in high schools is still a topic that is hotly debated. Some parents are happy about having a school uniform so they do not have to argue with their children about what they can or cannot wear to school. Some parents think that schools that insist on school uniforms are the safest. Other parents and some teens are against school uniforms because to them, wearing school uniforms means the students have to give up their individuality and their freedom of expression during the day at school. This essay looks at the reasons that school uniforms are better for schools especially when it comes to designer clothes and the money that a family has. Arguments against wearing school uniforms will also be discussed.
Thesis argument and thesis. I agree with former President Clinton because (1) the peer pressure to wear designer clothes is avoided and (2) poor and rich students all dress alike. If student uniforms help students stop competing over designer clothes and be treated more equally than high schools should adopt school uniforms.
Argument 1. One reason I like the idea of school uniforms is that not competing to buy the coolest designer clothes saves a lot of money and tensions at school. Argument 2. Secondly when all students are dressed alike in the same uniform then everyone is on the same level. In other words, they may be rich or poor but no one knows by the clothes they are wearing. This helps students avoid teasing and bullying based on how much money their family may or may not have. Counter argument. On the other hand in a research study in Australia some parents expressed the following opinion.
When our school started talking about smarter uniforms I was outraged And people who are for a better uniform are quite aspirational and say, 'We want to make it so the people in the street can see that our children aren't from the public school up the road.
These Australian parents did not like the idea that the school uniforms were part of an elitist way to make some families look better than other families in the neighborhood. In their neighborhood the parents used school uniforms for purposes that had nothing to do with the school at all.
Another reason school uniforms have been adopted is to help make the school more secure, “In recent years, schools have implemented a variety of security measures, including security guards, video surveillance, school uniforms, and metal detectors.” Wearing school uniforms is considered a type of “facility safety measure.” The schools in the northeastern part of the United States were found to be more likely than other parts of America to require school uniforms. Other strategies were listed as more important than school uniforms when it came to security and safety measures, for instance security cameras or locked doors are common. But another strategy used for safety in schools is a guide for student conduct. Code of conduct codes in high schools include how a student should behave during school and could include suggestions for how students should dress for school.
One of the main arguments against wearing school uniforms in high schools is that it may “violate a student’s right to freedom of expression.” According to this argument high school students should be able to express themselves freely and that includes the clothes they choose to wear. A compromise between school uniforms and no school uniforms could be to establish a dress code. The problem with setting a dress code is that dress codes are harder to define and to enforce in primary schools as well as in high schools. In 2007 a school in California was sued for violating their child’s freedom expression. (She wore socks with a picture of Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh to school, so she was sent home to change. At the school “No logos were allowed according to the dress code. The school's dress code required students to wear solid colors and banned images or logos on clothes.” The school district agreed to allow “images and other than solid colors.” The school district is going to work towards adopting school uniforms though since it is easier to have everyone wear a school uniform than to have to enforce dress codes.
It does not seem to be unusual for courts to become involved in decisions over whether or not a school’s dress code has been violated. For example in the summer of 2007 the United States Super Court made a ruling about a teenage boy in Vermont who had worn a T-shirt with then President G.W. Bush and images of alcohol and drugs. The school’s dress code did not allow students to wear clothing with any images of alcohol or drugs so the student was suspended. The decision had nothing to do with politics but was about the dress code used by the school. Finally “the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision affirming a Vermont student’s right to wear” the T-shirt in question. The U.S. Supreme Court said that the references to former President G.W. Bush’s past use of drugs and alcohol “were protected as free political expression.”
This decision described above was in contrast to one made by the Supreme Court in 2007 over a student who wore an anti-gay shirt to school. The school was upset and “argued that the T-shirt was hateful and inflammatory.” The US Supreme Court did not agree with the school. The Supreme Court decided that the student had a right to free speech and the school was wrong. The message sent by the Supreme Court is very confusing. If the student’s had been wearing school uniforms the issues over the images or words on the T-shirts would not have happened. The costs of suing the schools and going all the way to the Supreme Court for a ruling would have been saved, too.
Research was carried out on schools in Ohio in order to evaluate whether or not school uniforms were positive for a school or negative. The researcher, Virginia Draa discovered that school uniforms do make a positive difference. The three areas that school uniforms have a positive impact are (a) improvement in attendance, ((b) improvement in graduation rates, and (c) less suspension (lowered rates of suspension). Just the opposite is argued in a book titled The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education: A Symbolic Crusade by David Brunsma was published in 2004. He argues that past studies of the impact of school uniforms do not show a positive impact. “Brunsma concluded that there is no positive correlation between uniforms and school safety or academic achievement.”
The thesis for this essay was: If student uniforms help students stop competing over designer clothes and be treated more equally than high schools should adopt school uniforms.. Also when dress codes were used in a school they were very difficult to enforce so it is easier for schools to insist that student’s all dress alike. Brunsma’s research showed that school uniforms showed no improvements but his conclusions were based on old research data. Draa’s research for one state, Ohio, showed school uniforms did have a positive impact. It is possible that different states have different levels of success. I still think there are good reasons for school uniforms in order to avoid competition about designer clothes and bringing equality into the classroom. I learned that saving court costs is a good reason for schools to adopt school uniforms, too.
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