School Uniforms Have Become an Issue Thesis

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School Uniforms have become an issue associated with public and private education, in part due to the fact that research has shown that school uniform policies are assistive to students and faculty with regard to a multiple number of school issues and pervasive school problems. Proponents of school uniforms insist that uniform policies help discourage gang activity, encourage discipline, help students resist the peer pressure they face to buy and wear trendy clothing, decrease or eliminate bullying among students, help identify those who do not belong in the school, diminish varied socioeconomic disparities, increase a sense of belonging and pride in schools, and improve achievement and attendance among students. (Whitley, Olson & Goodwin, 2001, p. 54) (Pickles, 2000, p. 51) the development of the public school uniform policies demonstrates a trend that began around the turn of the millennium and is associated with a number of state and local initiatives that stress school uniform policies and specific changes in troubling school trends. Additionally, research on school uniform policies and positive change are largely anecdotal, where individuals and spokespeople for schools that have adopted mandatory school uniform policies often tote their success simply as a result of the "buy in" they have experienced and perceptual changes that may or may not be based on real research, or as was pointed out earlier on student populations with limited problems. "Despite...beliefs and those of likeminded policymakers and school officials, research on the effects of school uniforms has been inconclusive or mixed." (White, 2000, p. 36)

TOPIC: Thesis on School Uniforms Have Become an Issue Associated Assignment

The publicity given to parochial schools, private schools, and a few dozen public schools that mandate school uniforms has probably been a factor in the passage of legislation on this topic in at least 25 states. For the most part this legislation gives authority to local boards to implement school uniform policies or to strengthen dress codes. So far, no state has mandated that all schools adopt uniforms. Washington has a clause stating that students who participate in a nationally recognized youth organization must be allowed to wear the organization's uniform "on days that the organization has a scheduled activity." The law also stipulates that a district may not prohibit students from wearing clothing in observance of their religion. A New Hampshire law adds a restriction to local school boards stating that their power is limited "to that required by [the] function of administering public education." (Pipho, 1998, p. 725)

One example of such trend making legislation is associated with a 2001 Washington DC bill proposed by Schwartz (R) of DC. In her address to DC congress she stresses statistical changes which have occurred in places where school uniform policies have been adopted:

U.S. Department of Education statistics that show a 36% decrease in crime in Long Beach, Calif., schools in the year after uniforms were made mandatory. Specifically, fights decreased 51%, sex offenses were down 74% and weapons offenses decreased 50%, she said. Uniforms also are mandatory for all elementary students in New York City public schools. "This would solve a lot of the what am I going to wear in the morning - the whole fashion show thing. That, of course, is a problem. And gangs are readily identifiable. This would solve that, too," Mrs. Schwartz said. (Koren, 1999, p. 1)

Stressing the positive outcomes, which could be related to multi-causal relationships, such as greater awareness of the problem of bullying and implementation of zero tolerance polices in many schools that have allowed faculty and administrators greater control over the environment and marked response based action options may be premature but is still worth more than a second look by many schools and districts. If academic improvement, a reduction of school violence and an increased sense of community and safety in school culture indeed result from this relatively minor change schools should look at how school uniform policies could be fundamentally helpful to schools.

Conversely, proponents of mandatory school uniform policies stress that such policies violate a student's right to freedom of expression, represent a band aide rather than providing enduring solutions to difficult problems such as school violence and bullying, stifle students' self-expression and individuality, and are difficult to adopt, enforce and fund in public schools. (Whitley, Olson & Goodwin, 2001, p. 54) it would seem that the issue of school uniforms is one that is responsive to a much more casual social order, including but not limited to a serious reduction in the nature of corporate dress codes and other fundamentally divergent public expressions of self through fashion and even visible piercings and tattoos. The representative social fabric of the U.S. has demonstrated, even more so that in other eras an acceptable level of casual in the public arena, so much so that many public displays that would have been fundamentally unacceptable just ten years ago do not even elicit a second look today, and this is espeacilly true of youth, as they are more expressive and less likely to respond negatively to visible expressions of even some of the most extreme visible trends. Many would argue that the push toward reducing self-expression by implementing school uniform codes and increasing the strictness of dress codes in general is a backlash to the extremes of acceptable social expression, and should be challenged at all cost, most importantly because children have little or no voice and therefore need even greater protection from violations of civil and social rights. (Wilson, 2002, p. 79) (Whitley, Olson & Goodwin, 2001, p. 54)

Requiring a standard school uniform is one way to eliminate the possibility of variation; nobody is in fashion or out of fashion. Public discussion about the virtues and vices of school uniforms has occurred before. My data and theory suggest that uniforms can blunt some of the most blatant and damaging forms of status competition among students. To work, this strategy must be implemented in a fairly rigorous manner. Requiring jeans and tee-shirts is not enough. This will simply shift students' concern to the differences between the latest designer jeans. A standardized uniform from sources that guarantee a high degree of uniformity are required. Nor will such a policy succeed if students are allowed to wear expensive jewelry and accessories, whether these are a string of pearls or a heavy gold chain. Clearly, such rules involve suppressing certain forms of individualism and creativity. Many students will complain bitterly about the violation of their "constitutional rights." I doubt, however, that such a policy would reduce intellectual and political individuality and creativity and turn people into unthinking automatons-though the subtle and unanticipated consequences should be carefully monitored. What such a policy will almost certainly do is threaten the economic interests of important sectors of manufacturing, advertising, and retailing. (Milner, 2004, p. 185)

The pros and cons of the issue are substantial, most importantly in the fact that the reduction of negative social and physical conditions of schools is an essential aspect of change need that has been in need of address for some time. Though opponents stress that school uniform policies do not change the underlying reasons why the school culture might support violence, violence is a behavior and therefore reduction of it is socialized and essential to school safety and a positive learning environment. If alternatives were as or more effective than school uniform policies they would and should be tried alone or in concurrence with school uniform policies to help address the outward actions of a few, toward the positive social environment of the many.

The importance then becomes not the social and ethical challenges to school uniform policies but must realistically be viewed as a possible partial solution, to be tried with others to help reduce problem behaviors in schools. (Wooster et al., 2001, p. 18) This is especially true it seems for problematic schools and student populations, who have been shown repeatedly to benefit from massive school culture changes, demanding higher standards of behavior and well as school uniform policies. Yet the question of pros and cons of school uniform policies are indicative of if, when and for why such policies should be implemented as a matter of course rather than as a response to specific troubling behaviors. While some students, parents and faculty would site that a reversal, such as relaxation of dress code policies, he encouragement of free expression, increased stress on mutual respect and individuality are just as productive for reducing problem behaviors as restrictive changes in policy.

1) According to education philosopher John Dewey, public schools give their students "an opportunity to escape from the limitations of the social group in which [they were] born, and to come into living contact with a broader environment... different races, differing religions, and unlike customs." (2) Public education was intended to give students a broad perspective to prepare them for living in a complex, diverse society. (Reyes, 2001, p. 539)

Challenging the school uniform trend is to some essential to continuing the development of diversity education, where students are offered the opportunity to meet… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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