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The annual school uniforms sales in the U.S. averages one billion, three hundred million (Statistic Brain). That’s a great deal of money towards something that the majority of student’s dread. School uniforms are typically worn in private schools but are becoming required at some public schools. The average student doesn’t want to wake up in the morning and put the same thing on every day. Or want to wear the same thing as their peers. This is exactly what school uniforms encourage. In article on Listland titled, “Top 10 Reasons School Should Be Mandatory”, writer Dave Anderson gives a variety of reasons why he supports school uniforms. However, these reasons are opinions that I beg to differ. While some may argue for school uniforms they encourage conformity, restrict a student’s freedom of expression and have no proven benefit.
School uniforms promote conformity rather than individuality. This can have a negative effect on a child figuring out their self-image. How are they going to express themselves if they’re constantly told to wear the same thing as their peers? In the op-ed written by Anderson, one of his first points states how uniforms improve professionalism and enhance image. He goes so far as to say, “Schools should be schools and not fashion shows” (Anderson). Grade schools are full of kids, not adults. Why improve professionalism and enhance the image of a child? Children should be able to freely express who they are by developing their own style. We are always told to be ourselves and be unique but uniforms encourage the opposite. They motivate social conformity which results in sameness and lack of student creativity and individuality. A peer reviewed article from Editors Commentary is about school uniforms in elementary school. The author, Randy Rockney is surprised to find out that his child’s school has a new school uniform policy. The school informs parents that the change is so that the students maintain a sense of equality and promote safety. He is neutral about the topic throughout the article but in the end he states, “I do believe that abrogating a child’s ability to choose and wear clothing… that expresses his or her own particular style…does stifle the development of that child’s own individuality” (Rockney). Rockney is a parent that expresses the idea that taking away a child’s freedom to dress is indeed harming their individuality. At such a young age like elementary school, children are just discovering their likes and dislikes. They should be able to freely express themselves in how the dress instead of dressing similar to fellow classmates.
School is a place for education but it is also where we are able to first express ourselves. This is where many of us become more social and find friends we can relate to. Taking away our freedom to wear what we please makes the idea of going to school more unpleasant as it is. I remember being so happy in high school when a new school year came around and I was able to go “school shopping.” Just the idea of being able to pick out any clothes I wanted and wear them to school made me smile big. Simple things like picking out my own clothes helped me find out my likes and dislikes. This is something children that wear school uniforms don’t get to experience and that is outrageous. In an article on Wareham Week, written by Liam McKenna, he writes of students that voice their opinions over school uniforms. The main point of the article states that the primary reason for students being against school uniforms is the lack of individuality and freedom of expression. One student named Malange DePina stated, “We should be able to wear what we want. I like wearing my sweatpants when I’m feeling tired. I like to dress pretty when I’m feeling pretty. I shouldn’t have to wear what someone tells me to wear. I feel like we’re not a private school” (DePina). This is a very realistic statement that most public school students can relate to. No one likes being told how they should and shouldn’t dress. We are human and have different moods that influence what we decide to wear. Being told to wear the same thing is very draining and dull. Students should constantly be able to express themselves based on their preferences instead of having a required uniform.
Most of Anderson’s arguments towards wearing school uniforms have no proven benefit. If students are going to be required to wear uniforms there should be a positive benefit behind it. He argues that school uniforms are cost effective and can stop bullying. These are not valid facts. It was recorded from Statistic Brain that the annual cost on school uniforms is $1,300,000,000. Buying school uniforms is indeed just as expensive as spending money on regular clothes. If I were in a parent’s shoes, I would rather spend money on clothes that my child will actually like and wear. In contrast to spending money on clothes that my child doesn’t like and will only wear to school. Either way spending money on clothes for children is going to cost money, so at least make the money spent worth it. He also argues that school uniforms help stops bullying but this is not proven either. He writes, “Uniforms play a vital role in reducing peer pressure and raise the level of acceptability. Students in uniforms feel united and connected” (Anderson). The conformity of school uniforms is not a benefit and has no true effect on stopping bullying. Sadly, bullying can happen regardless of what a student has on. Bullying is just a flaw in our society that will happen whether or not a student is wearing a uniform. Promoting sameness isn’t helping our society, it is harming it.
Even though I disagree with the benefits of school uniforms I agree that there should be a dress code that students are required to follow. The freedom for students to dress how they want should also come with guidelines to ensure that students are dressing appropriately and not taking advantage of dressing freely. Anderson explains the importance of enforcing a dress code policy when as he writes, “Good portion of valuable time can be saved if we have a strict dress code policy at school. People in charge would not have to worry about checking each and every student of what he or she is wearing and whether it is acceptable at school or not. Tremendous amount of time can be utilized more productively” (Anderson). He argues that not having a dress code will result in unnecessary time spent on making sure the students are dressed appropriately. However, time will be saved with a dress code policy implemented because school management won’t constantly be checking that a student is in dress code. I agree that there should be limits placed on what students wear to school because it is still school.
Education always comes first so dressing freely to school is considered a privilege. Students should be given a dress code to follow because a lack of one will interfere with their school time if they aren’t properly dressed. On Niche, there is an article titled, “Dress Codes Growing in Style at U.S. Schools.” This article goes over the common rules of most dress codes in school and the benefits of having one. Common rules in most dress codes often include the “fingertip rule” in which shorts and skirts must extend fingertip length. Also, student’s shirt’s must also fully cover their stomach so that they are not showing excessive skin. One of the most important rules I read was about prohibiting shirts with profanity like violence and sexual content. This is very essential because all schools promote safety and a student should not be wearing any type of clothing that makes others feel uncomfortable. The benefits of a dress code include promoting a sense of security and less of a distraction so students can focus on what they’re learning. As long as grade school students can follow a few simple rules regarding dress code, it will mutually benefit both the school and students. The students will be able dress in accordance to the rules and the school will remain a safe place with proper rules set in place.
With the world around us constantly changing so much, it’s finally time for us to give up school uniforms in public school. There are many more important things to focus on than ensuring that students wear uniforms. School uniforms promote conformity and take away a student’s freedom of expression. There is also no proven benefit of requiring students to wear uniforms. As long as students are given a proper dress code to follow, there is no need for a required uniform. Instead of parents buying unwanted uniforms, they should invest in clothes that will make their kids happy. The goal of all public schools is to provide a safe environment that makes all students feel welcome. Allowing them the freedom of expression is the first step in this.
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