Summer just started and kids are off to camp! Some parents are already thinking about what school they will send their child to this fall. Uniforms have always been a debate, and there is a great discussion for the pros and cons.
When it comes to school administration controversies, few are as hotly contested and often debated as the issue of school uniform requirements. While parents of students enrolled in private schools have become accustomed to and even welcome the idea of a uniform dress code, those within the public school sector often have passionate feelings on the subject of their own. As more schools consider the idea of requiring a uniform, the debate surrounding the issue becomes even more heated.
Before storming the next meeting of the Parent Teacher Association with your opinions regarding school uniforms, it’s wise to consider both sides of the issue in order to make a rational, fair and balanced argument.
Among those who believe that administrator-mandated uniforms for kids within the public school system are the right thing to do, there are various and sundry reasons behind their convictions. From discouraging bullying to working within the budgets of lower-income students, the myriad justifications for a uniformed student body stretch across the spectrum. These are some of the most commonly cited reasons for favoring a uniforms-only policy from administrators, educators and parents alike.
- Reduced Morning Prep Time – As the parent of a child attending a uniform-only public school, you might be in for a bit more work. After all, khakis must be pressed and Oxford shirts starched. For kids, however, the morning getting-ready routine is slashed significantly, as kids don’t have to decide what to wear each morning.
- Less Expensive School Clothes – The majority of public school systems that have implemented a uniform-only policy are actively working to create a dress code that enables parents on tighter budgets to afford their kids’ clothes. When every navy blue polo shirt looks the same regardless of brand, you can pick up discount clothing for a fraction of the price of the designer duds a tween or teen begs for.
- Dispelling Distractions – When kids aren’t concerned about a particularly short skirt or a daring dress on one of their fellow students, they’re more likely to spend time actually studying, according to conventional wisdom.
- Fostering a More Welcoming Environment – Regardless of how much time parents spend teaching their children that materialistic attitudes are unbecoming and that it’s not right to judge someone based on the price tag of their clothing, some kids are simply determined to judge their classmates’ clothing. When everyone is wearing the same thing, the “fashion police” tend to be less venomous.
For every parent that lobbies for school uniforms and champions her cause to ensure that every child is created fashionably equal, there’s another behind her that’s adamantly opposed to the idea. These are a few of the drawbacks of school-mandated uniforms, and reasons why such a switch can be problematic.
- The Question of Individuality – When the subject of mandatory school uniforms comes into question, the first words on opposing parents’ lips is in regards to kids’ lost sense of individuality and freedom of expression. Kids need to mark themselves as part of the herd but still be wholly individual from their peer groups, which is why uniforms can sometimes be seen as problematic. Some parents also worry that when the freedom to express themselves through their wardrobe is removed, kids will resort to more extreme forms of expression like piercings and tattoos.
- The Loss of Diversity – School should be a breeding ground for acceptance and tolerance, as it’s a smaller-scale version of the world at large in many cases. Kids need to learn to accept and celebrate each other’s differences, up to and including the way that different cultures dress.
- Stifling Religious Freedoms – Some religions have strict rules about what is and is not considered acceptable dress, and school uniforms may not always fall in line with those religious requirements. Allowing some kids dispensation on religious grounds will only make them stand out more in a sea of uniforms, potentially leading to bullying and harassment.
- Added Financial Burden – For some parents, being able to purchase clothing at the beginning of the school year that adheres to the uniform code is a financial relief. After all, most uniforms are comprised of staple garments easily purchased at discount stores. For others, however, being forced to purchase specific clothing infringes upon their kids’ right to a free education.
Carefully considering the issue may give you a more informed platform to stand upon, but it’s unlikely to sway a school board determined to level the playing field for low-income families and underprivileged kids. In the end, your decision to embrace or eschew school uniforms may require a switch in school districts or very strenuous campaigning to make a real difference.
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