Through Different Lenses: The debate on uniformity
MODERN TIMES CALL FOR FREE EXPRESSION
I wake up at 6:30 a.m. to my alarm for school going off. When I finally muster the courage to get out of bed, I walk over to my closet and go through the same routine as I do every day. I find the boring old uniform I have to wear every day instead of the new outfit I got over the weekend, and that’s it; I’m ready for school.
For an extended period of time, issues concerning the clothing students wear to school have been a recurring topic of debate. One commonly proposed solution is for schools to adopt uniforms. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2015–16 school year, 21 percent of public schools in the United States reported they required students to wear uniforms. However, there are a multitude of reasons why letting students wear clothing of their choice is the preferable option.
Students select the outfits they wear to school as a form of expression. School uniforms would restrict a student’s ability to be creative and express themselves through their outfits. Furthermore, most careers require a college degree. Some high schools prepare students for college in order to get such a degree. Instead of requiring students to wear a uniform, professional dress is required instead. This offers an opportunity for students to develop their professional style, and find out what works for them when it comes to future job-appropriate clothing.
Uniforms can also have a negative effect on students’ self-image. One style of clothing does not flatter or feel comfortable to everyone. Someone should not be required to wear something that they are not comfortable wearing. In addition, most schools have one uniform for boys and one for girls. However, this could pose an issue for people who are transgender. Students shouldn’t be forced to wear clothes that correspond with a gender they don’t identify with.
One concept many supporters of school uniforms tend to push in this debate is that school uniforms reduce bullying, any existing socio-economic divides, and improve concentration. However, according to Education Week, David L. Brunsma, researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia, writes in “The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education”, “despite the anecdotal meanderings of politicians, community members, educators, board members, parents, and students, uniforms have not been effective at attacking the very outcomes and issues they were assumed to aid.”
School uniforms also promote conformity and lessen individuality. With the school telling students what they can and cannot wear, it takes away a student’s freedom to make their own decisions. Some may see this as a violation of a student’s first amendment rights, since expression is similar to the freedom of speech, and every individual has the right to freely express themself.
Ultimately, though there are some valid points for the implementation of school uniforms, students should have the right to where what they want when it comes to school. Research suggests that uniforms do not have a large effect on reducing negative concepts that schools would prefer to eliminate, which diminishes much of the argument for school uniforms.
UNIFORMS ESTABLISH COMMON GROUND BETWEEN STUDENTS
I roll over in bed, peek at my clock and it says… 7 a.m.?!?!? I have to be at school in 20 minutes! I jump out of bed and scramble through my room looking for something to wear. I found my jeans, but now I need my sweater. This sweater doesn’t match these socks though so I need different colors. Now I need my shoes, but it’s cold out so I need my boots. But these boots don’t match these jeans so now I need to find my leggings, but not the athletic ones, the ones with the mesh designs in them.
This rushing and stressing in the morning to find an outfit and make it to school on time is unnecessary for young teenagers. It would be much easier for parents and students if students wore school uniforms.
Back to school shopping is something a lot of parents dread. It’s expensive and very time consuming. Each student wants to find the perfect new outfit, that they’ll probably only wear once for the first day to school.
But if we had uniforms, back to school shopping would only include ordering a few items of clothing, in larger quantities, saving time and money. According to TheStreet, parents will spend an average of $284 on each child for back to school clothes in 2017. However, the average cost of school uniforms is $249. Keep in mind, once the school uniforms are purchased, the families are done buying for the year. One only buys one set of outfits per year. But when families buy regular clothes, they have to buy something for each season and replace clothes as the year goes on, because who wants to wear the same outfit twice?
Also, uniforms would help administration avoid conflict with dress codes. How many times have students walked into the school and had all eyes on them, not in a flattering way though? Overly exposed bodies in general is not appropriate for school, for both male and female students. With a simple code that students have to follow, breaking the code would be more of a black and white concept with no exceptions or wiggle room.
High school should be about grades and making plans for the future, unfortunately, wealth and popularity takes over priority at times. Your style puts you into cliques that may not necessarily match your personality. Clothes and name brands can make others seem on a higher or lower social scale than their peers. School uniforms would create a sense of unison throughout the school and eliminate the bias of looks. Now, not all students are worried about how they look and if they’re considered to be in the “in” crowd, but if they are, students uniforms would release the tension from some students.
So next time you’re out doing your back to school shopping, think about how much easier it would be to if you only had to buy one outfit. You could roll out of bed, throw on your button up and sperrys and be on your way to school.