Should school uniforms and dress codes really be made mandatory? The debate remains hot, with stakeholders in education taking the opposite sides. Ideally, uniforms and dress codes in schools are essential since they enhance student safety, teamwork, and self-esteem and teach ethics and confidence among students from the same schools. They also reduce violence, peer pressure, indecency, sexual harassment, theft, and gang activity within schools.
On the other hand, they could introduce bias and a sense of inequality among students. The students whose parents cannot afford them feel excluded and inadequate; some drop out of school. It also violates students’ freedom of expression, denying them some of their democratic rights. As much as enforcing uniform and dress code policies might face challenges of legality, constitutionality, and adherence to individual rights and freedoms, I believe school uniforms and dress codes should be made mandatory to promote safety, order, and discipline in schools.
Mandatory school uniforms promote improved academic performance of students, though only when combined with other factors such as good policies by school administrators. Brobeck, in his article “School uniform requirements: Effects on student academic performance,” opined that uniforms generally promote teamwork and a sense of belonging; thus, controlling inappropriate behaviors (2018). As a result, students shift their focus from socially-ill manners to improving their academic performance. Elizabeth Brobeck is a passionate educator from a background of educators with a passion for changing the world through teaching.
The article is a thesis focusing on how uniforms could impact education and their effects on academic performance. When school administrations do not moderate clothing, students waste their time and energy thinking of the best fashion. Moreover, some attack others to get the clothes they desire but cannot afford. The uniforms essentially channel the attention of students from style and violence to academic work.
Clothing rules are enforced in schools and the corporate world, especially in big businesses. In the article “School dress codes and uniform policies,” Anderson shows how rules on dress codes within schools curb disruption, indecency, gang violence, peer pressure, and theft (2002). Anderson Wendell was a writer interested in educational policies and their effect on academic performance. The article was published in the wake of unrest in schools, which arose due to students protesting school uniforms. Schools design their dress codes to prevent students from wearing provocative clothing, mainly portraying nudity, obscenity, and drugs (Gurung et al., 2018). Students in formal dressing receive high ratings from fellow students based on their clothing.
School uniforms create inequality among students and fractions within stakeholders in education. According to Sabic-El-Rayess et al. (2019), some students cannot afford school uniforms since the cost is relatively high, especially in low-income countries. The financially vulnerable students feel excluded when other students wear uniforms they cannot afford. They perceive the costly uniforms as a symbol of power; thus, not owning them makes them feel marginalized. Consequently, they drop out of school because they are stigmatized; hence, they have lowered self-esteem. Essentially, poorly implemented school uniform policies negatively impact students, especially those from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Enforcing uniform policies is a violation of individual rights and freedoms. Uniforms indicate what is to be worn; dress codes dictate what is not to be worn; as such, civil liberty unions and some students consider them to infringe their freedoms. According to Anderson (2002), uniforms make everyone look the same, thus, causing instances of rebelliousness, especially from fashion enthusiasts. In a speech in 1996, President Clinton supported the idea of uniforms for student safety. Most schools enforced mandatory uniform policy, which led to student rebellion; for example, Brookfield East High School students demonstrated in Milwaukee. In addition to that, some uniform and dress code policies lack legal backing and usually get revoked by judicial courts. Generally, opponents of uniform policies believe they are unnecessary and unlawful, for they deny students fundamental freedoms.
School administrators have always found enforcing school uniforms and dress code policies challenging. The reasons for that struggle include resistance to those policies, increased drop-out rates among students, and some students’ inability to afford uniforms. Some find uniforms unnecessary; for instance, some civil societies claim that uniforms are not a solution to students’ inappropriate behaviors and violate student freedom of expression. Some stakeholders equally believe in having no dress codes and uniforms in schools because they breed inequality and bias in schools, for some students cannot afford them; therefore, facing increased stigma.
Conversely, proponents of mandatory school uniforms and dress codes opine that they are necessary since they enhance students’ safety and confidence. In addition, it promotes good ethics, teamwork, and discipline among students. It also reduces gang violence, thefts, inequality, and peer pressure among students. Consequently, the students register an improved academic performance, for their primary focus is on their schoolwork. I admit uniform and dress code policies in schools will not solve all school problems; however, they will undoubtedly promote a good school culture, especially when all stakeholders are involved in their implementation.
Anderson, W. (2002). School dress codes and uniform policies. Policy Report. Web.
Brobeck, E. (2018). School uniform requirements: Effects on student academic performance. Web.
Gurung, R. A., Brickner, M., Leet, M., & Punke, E. (2018). Dressing “in code”: Clothing rules, propriety, and perceptions. The Journal of Social Psychology, 158(5), 553-557. Web.
Sabic-El-Rayess, A., Mansur, N. N., Batkhuyag, B., & Otgonlkhagva, S. (2019). School uniform policy’s adverse impact on equity and access to schooling. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education. Web.