A modest list of debating points about Mandatory Public School Uniforms

The first seven subjects below are the ones routinely used by those promoting uniforms.    Following that are other points raised by various parties.    If you have any other subjects for debates, or other arguments for subjects listed (other than the ubiquitous "uniforms suck!"), please send them our way, and we'll consider adding them.

The list below contains these abbreviations:

1. Campus Safety and Security
  1. A uniform helps make the campus safer and more secure by eliminating the wearing of gang clothing which can also be used to intimidate or conceal contraband.

  2. Moreover, outsiders or non-students are easily recognized on campus.
    • FRUP - some people can be intimidating when wearing anything.

    • FSMD - Gangs can choose allowed colors for their colors.   In at least one case, the limited color range mandated in a uniform policy created "ganging", where groups of students decide to wear certain combinations of the allowed colors.
    • Either - unless the policy mandates skin-tight clothing, how will the concealment of contraband be eliminated???
          Many people (which includes students!) express their attitudes, in part, by their clothing.   Is not "change in clothing" a warning sign for many problems?   If so, how is preventing this warning a safety advantage?
  1. Well, the really dumb outsiders might be...

2. Climate for Learning
  1. A uniform helps students focus on learning. It sets the tone for a proper work attitude in the classroom, reducing behavior problems and improving performance.
  1. Ask someone who went to school in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s if certain clothing is required to "set the tone" in the classroom. There may be problems achieving the "proper work attitude" in classes these days, but mandating certain clothing seems like an ineffective indirect fix.

3. School Unity and Pride:
  1. An attractive student uniform promotes school spirit, good self-image, and school unity.

  2. Just as an athletic teams' uniforms promote unity and spirit, so can a school uniform.
  1. Define attractive!   Not all clothing styles are attractive on all people.   Forcing students to wear clothing that is uncomfortable or unflattering is hardly going to improve their self-image.
  2. Athletic teams (which are voluntary activities) have a goal above and beyond uniforms - identical clothing does not create the spirit or unity, but merely assists in achieving the goals by reducing the number of mistakes during the game.   To determine the real importance of uniforms in this setting, imagine a competitive game where both teams wore identical uniforms - would spirit and unity be at a high level at the end of such a comedic event?   Or would there be much grumbling?
       If multiple school districts shared the same building, and students had to be identified with their district to award points scored, perhaps this argument would have merit.

4. Economics:
  1. A uniform is economical. Comparisons show that the uniform costs significantly less than what most parents pay for unregulated school clothing. Durability, reusability, and the year-to-year consistency also cut costs.
    • FRUP - Some uniforms are much less durable than "unregulated school clothing" such as denim, and parents advise they must buy clothing more often, so even if the initial purchase is cheaper, the overall cost is not.
    • FSMD - many parents report difficulty in finding certain styles in the mandated colors.   Even if the cost is less (which is NOT a certainty), if you have to spend more time shopping, is it an advantage???
    • Either - With school uniforms, parents have to purchase two sets of clothing - one for school and another for after school and weekends. That is hardly economical.
           Many parents don't buy name brand clothes for their children, and for them, the cost is likely to increase.

5. Homogeneity and Opportunity for Self-Expression:
(Reduced Peer Pressure)
  1. A uniform removes the status that clothing labels give to some children and serves to externally equalize all students.

  2. This provides impetus for students to find more productive outlets for expressions of individualism such as wit, intelligence, and creativity.
  3. Teachers offer many opportunities for self-expression and creativity in the academic realm ranging from creative assignments to after-school clubs.
    • FRUP - What a fine lesson to teach our children - "if someone dresses different than you, they're not as good you, or don't belong, stay away from them.   Actually, if they look different..." And we all know, when students arrive in "the real world", they'll find that everyone dresses the same!
    • FSMD - Not even close! Ask parents at a district that forbids logos how easy it is to find off-the-rack clothing that does Not have status symbols on them!
  1. Or tatoos, or flashy jewelry, or hand signals, or testing the limits of uniform enforcements, or skipping school because of One More Hassle, or...

  2. Well, um, eh, didn't teachers do this before uniforms???

6. Modesty Standards Upheld:
  1. A uniform meets widely accepted standards of modesty thus eliminating the conflicting interpretations of dress codes and the embarrassment that often is associated with "violations" of dress code.
  1. J:"So, Dude!   Like, there are no "violations" of the uniform policy?   Cool!"
    E:"I dunno, dude, i liked the old dress code, where we could wear speedos and the chicks could wear bikinis..."

        Just for the record, it is possible to wear any type of clothing in an immodest manner...

7. Dressing Simplified:
  1. Parents cite simplification of selection as an important advantage, eliminating the morning tug-of-war with children over what to wear.
  1. People, People, People!
        If deciding what to wear is such a big social problem, what do you think homework does to families?   So, let's make homework uniform - no matter what the student's abilities, K-12, same every grade, every year.   That way parents won't have the hassle of their kids having trouble with difficult subjects, and everyone will be happy.   Dumb, but happy.
        Parents: do you really want the government dressing your kids??? Perhaps you would like the school board to decide what cereal your family should have for breakfast. Say, the district could mandate what TV shows you're allowed to watch, and eliminate that night-time hassle. Come to think of it, shuttling kids from home to school and sports and band and such, then back again, that's also a lot of trouble - why can't the schools have dormitories and just keep the students until they graduate?   Schools could have "meet the students" night, where parents could visit their children and inspect the communal facilities.
    Quit asking the government to do your job!

        Sorry...   That just slipped out.

8. Respect for Authority:
  1. "You're teaching your children to disobey/disrespect authority!"
  1. Ever hear of the Boston Tea Party??? Or even worse, those ingrates who signed that Declaration of Independence thing... If only those fool's parents had taught them better, we wouldn't be having this problem - the King would decide what our good children must wear.
        But seriously - which authority? If the local government is doing something that the state government doesn't allow, or is in violation of the Constitution, isn't it our DUTY as citizens to oppose it? Or is that just stuff we teach the students in government class, but don't really expect them to believe?

9. Uniforms in the Workplace:
  1. "Students will have to wear a uniform when they start working anyway, whether it's a uniform with a paper hat, or a "uniform" of a suit and tie"
    1. Which job ones takes is a voluntary decision - the potential employee must decide if the benefits of the job outweigh restrictions on their life, such as arriving on time, or wearing certain clothing.
          Students have no legal choice about attending school.
    2. Look around at major corporations - even the mighty Electronic Data Systems has dropped its stringent dress code.   What does "the richest man in the world" wear when demonstrating new software products to the world?   Do the captains of "Big Blue" always wear suits during business briefings?   The myth that "the clothes make the man" has had its bluff called, despite billions of advertising dollars.

10. Any uniform = mandatory uniforms
  1. " Anyone who has ever been in band, sports, cheerleading, plays, or church rituals and worn a uniform can't be opposed to being required to wear uniforms to school"
    1. Again, those activities are voluntary, and there are specific reasons for wearing the uniforms during those functions.
    2. Does that mean, since all uniforms are created equal, that wearing track attire or cheerleader outfits to class would be acceptable???  They are uniforms, after all, used to create school spirit and unity!

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last modified apr 07, 2001
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