Pro School Uniforms Essay Papers

Pro School Uniforms

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The Need for School Uniforms

A safe and structured learning environment is the first requirement of a good school. Children who feel safe and secure will better learn basic American values. In return they will learn the basis of good citizenship and become better students. In response to growing levels of violence in our schools, many parents, teachers, and school officials have been forced to look toward school uniforms as one potentially positive way to reduce discipline problems and increase school safety.
It has been observed that the adoption of school uniform policies can promote school safety, improve discipline, and enhance the learning environment. The potential benefits of school uniforms include decreasing violence and theft. Some instances involving designer clothing and expensive sneakers have even led to life-threatening situations among students. Uniforms would also prevent gang members from wearing gang colors and insignia at school. Uniforms would also teach students discipline and help them resist peer pressure. Uniforms would also help students concentrate on their schoolwork and would help school officials detect intruders who come unwelcome into the school.
As a result, many local communities are deciding to adopt school uniform policies as part of an overall program to improve school safety and discipline. California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia have enacted school uniform regulations. Many large public school systems including Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dayton, Detroit, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Miami, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Phoenix, Seattle and St. Louis have schools with either voluntary or mandatory uniform policies, mostly in elementary and middle schools. In addition, many private schools have required uniforms for a number of years. Still other schools have implemented dress codes to encourage a safe environment by prohibiting clothes with certain language or gang colors.
The decision to adopt a uniform policy must be made by states and local school districts. For uniforms to be a success, as with all other school initiatives, parents must be involved. We must get the parents involved with the uniform policies from the beginning.
Their support of the uniform policy is critical to its success. The strongest push for school uniforms in recent years has come from parent groups who want better discipline in
their children's schools. Parent groups have actively lobbied schools to create uniform
policies and have often led school task forces that have drawn up uniform guidelines. Many schools that have successfully created a uniform policy survey parents first to gauge support for school uniform requirements and then seek the parent’s opinions in designing the uniform.

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Parent support is also essential in encouraging students to wear the uniform.
A school uniform policy must protect students' religious expression. A school uniform policy must accommodate students whose religious beliefs are greatly burdened by a uniform requirement. As U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley stated in Religious Expression in Public Schools, a guide he sent to superintendents throughout the nation on August 10, 1995:

Students may display religious messages on items of clothing to the same extent
that they are permitted to display other comparable messages. Religious messages

may not be singled out for suppression, but rather are subject to the same rules as

generally apply to comparable messages. When wearing particular attire, such as

Yarmulkes and head scarves, during the school day is part of students' religious

practice, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act schools generally may not

prohibit the wearing of such items.

A uniform policy must protect students' other rights of expression. It must not prohibit students from wearing or displaying expressive items. For example, a button that supports a political candidate should be allowed as long as such items do not contribute to disruption by substantially interfering with discipline or with the rights of others. A uniform policy must also prohibit students from wearing a button bearing a gang insignia. A uniform policy must also prohibit items that undermine the integrity of the uniform, such as a sweatshirt that bears a political message but also covers or replaces the type of shirt required by the uniform policy.
There is another big issue within the implementation of school uniforms. Schools must determine whether to have a voluntary or mandatory school uniform policy.
Some schools have adopted completely voluntary school uniform policy, which permits students to freely choose whether and under what circumstances they will wear the school uniform. On the other hand, some schools have determined that it is both warranted and more effective to adopt a mandatory uniform policy.
When a mandatory school uniform policy is adopted, there must be a determination as to whether to have an "opt out" provision
In most cases, school districts with mandatory policies allow students, with parental

consent, to "opt out" of the school uniform requirements.

Some schools have determined, however, that a mandatory policy with no "opt out"

provision is necessary to address a disruptive atmosphere. A Phoenix, Arizona school, for

example, adopted a mandatory policy requiring students to wear school uniforms, or

attend another public school. That Phoenix schools’ uniform policy was recently

upheld by a state trial court in Arizona.

In the fight for better and safer schools there must be assistance for families that
need financial help. In many cases, school uniforms are less expensive than the clothing that students typically wear to school. Nonetheless, the cost of purchasing a uniform may be a burden on some families. School districts with uniform policies have to make provisions for students whose families are unable to afford uniforms. There are many types of assistance that can be made available to disadvantaged families. School districts can provide uniforms to students who cannot afford to purchase them. Also, a great help would come from community and business leaders that would provide uniforms or contribute financial for support of uniforms. School parents working together to make uniforms available for disadvantaged students is also feasible. Lastly, it would be possible to make used uniforms from graduates available to incoming students.
To enact uniform policies we must treat school uniforms as part of an overall
safety program for our children. Uniforms by themselves cannot solve all of the problems of school discipline, but they can be one positive contributing factor to discipline and safety. Other initiatives that many schools have used in conjunction with uniforms to address specific problems in their community include aggressive truancy reduction initiatives, drug prevention efforts, student-athlete drug testing, community efforts to limit gangs, a zero tolerance policy for weapons, character education classes, and conflict resolution programs. Working with parents, teachers, students, and principals can make a uniform policy part of a strong overall safety program, one that is broadly supported in the community.
There are many model school uniform policies within the United States to pull precedence from. We as a society must decide how we can ensure a safe and disciplined learning environment. More and more school districts that have adopted school uniforms as part of their strategy for a better learning environment. Long Beach, California has made uniforms mandatory for 58,500 elementary and middle school students since 1994.
Their program has had spectacular results with less than one percent of the students

electing to opt out of the uniform policy. Long beach Schools have had an overall crime

decrease of 36% while fights decreased 51% and weapons offenses dropped by half. Dick

Van Der Laan of the Long Beach Unified School District explained, "We can't attribute

the improvement exclusively to school uniforms, but we think it's more than

coincidental."

According to Long Beach police chief William Ellis, "Schools have fewer reasons to call

the police. There's less conflict among students. Students concentrate more on education,

not on who's wearing $100 shoes or gang attire."

Support for disadvantaged students has also been addressed each school has developed an

assistance plan for families that cannot afford to buy uniforms. In most cases, graduating

students either donate or sell used uniforms to needy families.

     In Seattle, Washington the South Shore Middle School has implemented a

mandatory uniform policy for 900 middle school students since 1995. The Results

were staggering principal of South Shore, Dr. John German, reports that "this year the demeanor in the school has improved 98 percent, truancy and tardies are down, and we have not had one reported incident of theft." Dr. German explains that he began the uniform program because his students were "draggin', saggin' and laggin'. I needed to keep them on an academic focus. My kids were really into what others were wearing." Out of 900 only five students elected to attend another public school. As for support for disadvantaged students South Shore Middle School works with local businesses that contribute financial support to the uniform program. In addition, the administration at South Shore found that the average cost of clothing a child in a school with a prescribed wardrobe is less than in schools without such a program, sometimes 80 percent less. School officials believe that durability, reusability and year-to-year consistency also increase the economy of the school's plan.



Works Cited

Donohue, John W. “There’s Something About a Uniform.” America 20 Jul. 1996: 18-
20.

Gursky, Daniel. “ ‘Uniform’ Improvement?” The Education Digest Mar. 1996: 46-48.

Mancini, Gail Hinchion. “School Uniforms: Dressing for Success or Conformity?” The
Education Digest Dec. 1997: 62-65.

Pollitt. Katha. “School Uniforms.” The Nation 27 Apr. 1998: 10.
President William Clinton. State of the Union Address



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Outline



Thesis: School uniforms should be required in public schools because their use would lead to higher education, less violence, and lower cost to parents.



I. Education

A. Discipline toward learning

1. Less distractions

2. Less stress

B. Better Grades

1. Attendance

2. Focus



II. Violence

A. Less hostility

1. Less peer pressure

2. Everybody"s equal

B. Weapons

1. Harder to conceal

2. Less will try to conceal



III. Cost

A. More affordable

1. Fewer clothes to buy

2. Competition with peers

B. Help for low-income

1. Clothing vouchers

2. Business donations

3. Thrift stores































School uniforms in public schools are becoming increasingly popular across the nation. The public school system would benefit greatly if this policy were to be adopted. Opposition is always a factor when trying to make changes. Taking all things into consideration, the positive effects would be far greater than the negative effects. School uniforms should be required in public schools because their use would lead to higher education, less violence, and lower cost to parents.

By requiring school uniforms in public schools, education will be improved. A dress code will enforce discipline toward learning. Uniforms improve a person"s outlook toward success. Students generally act the way they are dressed. With fewer distractions, students see the school as a workplace for teaching and learning. Students also have less stress in their lives because they are not in a fashion competition. Dress codes also lead to a change in grades. Mainly this happens because the student"s attendance comes up. There is also a change in grades because it is easier to focus when everyone looks alike.

Another reason school uniforms should be required in public schools is that it causes less violence. There will be less peer pressure toward competition to distract the students from their studies. Everyone will be equal if the uniforms were to be required. The weapons factor will be cut down drastically by mandatory uniforms. The reason for this violence decrease is that weapons will be harder to conceal. If the weapons are harder to conceal, there will be less attempts to hide the weapons and fewer will be brought to our school or school functions. This brings about a change for the better, because it reduces social classes.

Cost is another reason that school uniforms should be required in public schools. Critics complain that this policy is too costly; uniforms are actually more affordable. There are fewer clothes to buy because everyone will be dressed in similar clothing. There is no competition between peers to outdo each other. There are also ways to help low-income families with the cost. With community support for low-income families, in the form of donations, clothing vouchers, and support from the business partners of the communities, this problem can be overcome. The great number of thrift stores and uniform supply houses also reduce the cost for the clothing. These things combined can make it far less costly to purchase standard clothing than to meet the demand for designer clothing worn now.

Chosen by each school, uniforms can provide students with a school identity. It can also strengthen school and individual spirit and pride. This is achieved in much the same way as an athletic team uniform builds team unity. The joining together by all students will also raise the morale and self-esteem of students. Students that are together in one mind lead to a school that is united. There are a lot of things to consider when making your decisions on how you feel about mandatory school uniforms. No one should jump to any conclusions without being fully informed. After gathering information on the pros and cons of the issue, then each person should think long and hard on the benefits of wearing school uniforms. These benefits far outweigh the disadvantages for the well to do and low-income alike.

 

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