Research Proposal: School Uniforms

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School Uniforms

The debate about the effectiveness of a school uniform policy to address school performance and other issues has not been settled. Uniforms have been more common in private schools, particularly Catholic schools and the debate has been more about the use of uniforms in public schools. Some strongly agree that school uniforms positively change the school culture and the students' attitudes and behavior and there are those who deny this claim. The general debate focuses on two major issues -- the effect that uniforms can have on gang activity and whether or not having a school uniform policy infringes on students human rights. Mitchell and Knechtle (2003) examine the issue of constitutional rights and school uniform policies. Opponents to the school uniform policy claim that it violates students' First Amendment rights to free speech. They claim that it restricts rights for freedom of expression in dress especially for youth of color and other ethnic groups where dress has cultural and ethnic significance. Dress is shown to be part of symbolic speech and is protected by the First Amendment. School uniforms also qualify as a content-neutral regulation as it prohibits expression of speech as it permits a ban and does not select for different viewpoints in expression, thus it is protected by the First Amendment. Proponents also claim that there is no violation of First Amendment Rights since the uniform policy is in keeping with government's wishes to protect people as it helps to create a safe environment in the schools and reduce gang violence. The Supreme Court has therefore held that students' rights are not limited by having a school uniform policy. However these policies should take into account exception for religious and cultural purposes.

School Uniform Relation to Academic

Some researchers and educators believe that school uniforms have many advantages related to the students' attitude to their school work and to their own self-concept. Mitchell and Knechtle (2003) list some of these ways as reducing negative peer pressure by bullying and teasing and other victimizations. The school uniforms also "can increase positive student attitudes toward school and its educational goals" (p. 488). Attendance rates and suspension rates can also be lowered by having a school uniform policy. Other benefits have been described as higher self-esteem and confidence, promotion of group spirit, reduction in the social stratification.

Konheim-Kalstein (2006) report several studies that have been done to examine the effects of school uniform policies in various school districts. In 1986 the Baltimore Cherry Hill Elementary School was one of the first U.S. public schools to adopt a school uniform policy. Among the positive effects reported by the principal reported were increased test scores and improved school performance. Since then many school districts have adopted school uniform policies. The NASSP Bulletin in 1997 reports a survey of 306 middle school students in Charleston, N.C. which shows that students in a school with a uniform policy had a significantly better perception of their school's climate than students in schools without uniforms. Another study by a doctoral student in Charleston found that a school with a uniform policy reported higher attendance, self-esteem and academic scores. And yet another researcher investigated perceptions of St. Paul teachers in 1999 and found that there was more positive behavior and peer interactions, fewer cliques and less teasing and better self-esteem among the students who wore uniforms. The data so far collected has been almost anecdotal or testimonies of parents and other school administrators and so not subjected to rigorous statistical analyses.

The evidence for supporting uniform policies is not completely conclusive. The research on school uniforms and test scores is mixed. Bodine et al. (2003) discuss methodological issues that have made it difficult to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of uniforms on academic performance. They point out for example that one study did not analyze all the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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School Uniforms.  (2009, November 29).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/school-uniforms/8854

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"School Uniforms."  Essaytown.com.  November 29, 2009.  Accessed July 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/school-uniforms/8854.