Parents, administrators, students, and others involved in education have differing opinions on school uniforms. Some people think school uniforms serve a great purpose. Others feel that they should be outlawed. There are different schools of thought for the pros and the cons.
Pro school uniform advocates usually state rising grades, self-esteem, better behavior, less gang influence, fewer discipline referrals, and fewer cliques when describing the positives. There is data to back up each of these statements.
Schools who implement school uniforms immediately see big changes, primarily in behavior. Schools with a large gang population or a history of gangs see fewer signs of gangs in and around the school. Gang colors disappear. In addition, fights and verbal attacks are reduced. This is backed up by an amazing reduction in discipline referrals.
School uniforms also let a person express their personality. This is hard for some parents to grasp at first. When a student is keeping up with fashion, they are spending so much time trying to ‘look perfect’ and ‘fit in’ with the right clique they lose who they really are. A school uniform gives students the opportunity to discover their individual talents.
Self-esteem improves because of these positive school uniform influences. It cannot be stressed enough: Once a student is no longer in competition to be the best dressed or the worst dressed or the ‘punkest’, amazing things begin to happen. When students discover themselves their self-esteem increases and they are open to new educational experiences.
It follows that grades will improve. For many administrators, improved grades are the most important benefit. Gary Pauls is a high school principal. His district began implementing school uniforms 7 years ago in hopes of improving grades and student behavior. He recently commented on the policy. “For me it’s the grades. We have the lowest income students, but we have the 3rd highest state scores. This is the first time this has happened. We go from being 12th to 3rd. School uniforms played a big part in making this happen. And I don’t discount the way the kids behave. The kids aren’t out of class as much if they have it together.”
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