Arguments for & against wearing school uniforms

Written by mary johnson-gerard, ph.d.
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Arguments for & against wearing school uniforms
The value of wearing school uniforms is a strongly debated topic. (Katy McDonnell/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The question of school uniforms has been controversial for a long time. It is typically a matter of debate among students, teachers and parents. The research seems to be split on the issue. If a school district is considering initiating a school uniform policy, several pro and con issues should be taken into consideration. School administrators should also be prepared to open the debate to parents as well as students and teachers.

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Pro: Increases Student Attention

One of the commonly cited reasons for instituting a school uniform policy is that uniforms help keep students on task and not worrying about what other students might be wearing.

Pro: Levels Socioeconomic Status

It has been argued that required school uniforms reduce the impact of socioeconomic level on students. When students wear the same clothing, the hypothetical line separating the well-off students from the less well-off is blurred. This argument asserts that uniforms level the playing field because students in school uniforms are more alike than different.

Pro: Reduces Gang Clothing

Proponents of school uniforms argue that issues in schools centring on gang activity are reduced when gang attire is not permitted.

Pro: More Economical for Parents

Supporters of the school uniform argue that the cost of school uniforms is significantly less than buying children multiple outfits. The savings are better put toward more important family needs than prestige resulting from having the latest style.

Con: Violates First Amendment

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution speaks to the freedom of expression. Opponents of school uniforms often argue that school uniforms violate students' rights under the First Amendment.

Con: Creates Enforcement Issues

When a school has a school uniform policy, teachers and administrators often spend significant time enforcing the policy and less time instructing or administering.

Con: Reduces Student Responsibilities

In their school years, students should be learning to make responsible choices about clothing. School uniforms negate this learning opportunity.

Con: Accepting Differences

When school uniforms are used to blur the lines of socioeconomic differences, students are not given the opportunity to learn about difference and how to accept differences in others.

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