Approximately 18 per cent of state schools required students to wear school uniforms in the 2007-08 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Supporters of school uniforms argue that uniforms help students concentrate on schoolwork and reduce peer pressure, theft, gang activity and violence. However, there are several arguments against school uniforms.
Purchasing school uniforms places a financial strain on parents, especially low-income families. In addition, opponents of school uniforms argue that it's unfair to force parents who already pay taxes to support schools to also purchase school uniforms. And although school uniforms may be less expensive than casual clothes, students will still need casual clothes for weekend socialising and other activities.
School uniforms encourage conformity instead of adaptive thinking. Proponents of school uniforms argue that school uniforms teach students to dress appropriately for a job interview or professional career, but opponents counter that adaptive and creative thinking is more important. Companies vary widely in their dress codes, so students need to know how to adapt to different situations and environments.
Avoiding Real Solutions
Spending time and resources developing and enforcing a school uniform plan may distract schools from pursuing real solutions to common school problems, such as bullying, violence or academic underachievement. In addition, school uniform plans can be difficult to implement and enforce, wasting more time and resources.
Interfering with Student Rights
School uniforms interfere with students' right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, according to some opponents of school uniforms. Many students are also concerned that school uniforms will interfere with their right to wear religious clothing, such as head scarves or yarmulkes, although many school uniform policies permit these items.
School uniforms support a double standard, according to some opponents, because teachers and administrators are usually only required to conform to a dress code instead of wearing a uniform.