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School Uniforms: Conformity Or Isolation? (Essay Sample)


Do school uniforms help to foster an environment conducive to learning? Do they help prevent clothing (or the lack of) from becoming a distraction for students? This seems to be a topic of debate for years now. The debate started in the 1980s when public schools started to use uniforms. The thought behind this change was to reduce peer pressure when it comes to clothes. According to an assistant professor at Yorktown State University, Virginia Draa, uniforms are beneficial in multiple areas. If you ask David Brunsma, an American Academic, after his research he would tell you that uniforms change nothing. I personal believe school uniforms can make a difference if given the chance.
Some people say that one of the cons of this policy is that school uniforms restrict students' freedom of expression. The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees that all individuals have the right to express themselves freely. The US Supreme Court stated in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (7-2, 1969) that "it can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Clothing choices are "a crucial form of self-expression," according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which also stated that "allowing students to choose their clothing is an empowering message from the schools that a student is a maturing person who is entitled to the most basic self-determination." Clothing is also a popular means of expressing support for various social causes and compulsory uniforms largely remove that option. Students at Friendly High School in Prince George's County, MD, were not allowed to wear pink shirts to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a result, 75 students received in-school suspensions for breaking the school's uniform restrictions.
Others would disagree with the cons and say go for it. Some of the views for the change are that school uniforms keep students focused on their education, not their clothes. A bulletin published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals stated that "When all students are wearing the same outfit, they are less concerned about how they look and how they fit in with their peers; thus, they can concentrate on their schoolwork." A study by the University of Houston found that elementary school girls' language test scores increased by about three percentile points after uniforms were introduced. Former US Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, advocated school uniforms to help students focus on learning: "Take that clothing choice off the table and put the focus on school, not on what you're wearing." Chris Hammons, Principal of Woodland Middle School in Coeur d'Alene, ID, stated that uniforms "provide for less distraction, less drama, and more of a focus on learning."


Every academic institution in the world aims to provide a community that will foster a student's intellectual capacity and practical skill competencies that will make them ready for future life-challenges. Aside from the cognitive and psychomotor aspects of development, one factor that makes the academe influential will be the values that can be inculcated to the future generation such as a sense of responsibility, belongingness, and equality. School rules and regulations served as determinants that academic institutions intend to produce graduates that are not only intellectually competent but with a heart who knows how to discern what is ethically right or wrong. School uniforms are one of the policies that educational institution implements in response to this call. The concept of school uniforms started in England dated back in 1222. The idea of the standardized dress code was primarily adopted by the Cambridge University in the light of providing students with the sense of fineness, identity, and cohesion. In the US, school uniforms were introduced during the time of President Clinton for the purpose of stopping gang wars and violence brought by designer clothes. The uniform policy was successfully administered in parochial and private schools in 1900, then later on the public school systems in the year 1980 (Meleen, 2018). Since the beginning of implementation in the 1980s up until the present, various critics and education professionals have been conducting debates on the advantages and disadvantages of holding academic dress codes in schools. In this article, certain prerogatives on the pros and cons of school uniforms will be clearly discussed and analyzed in order to justify on which stand school uniform really belongs: conformity for equality or isolation for a hindrance in freedom of expression.
The effectiveness of school uniforms to improve students' achievement and behavior has been one of the controversial points of debates. Do uniforms really aid in establishing a positive correlation to the students' academic achievement in a school? Well, several studies conducted revealed that there was indeed no significant effect attributed to the implementation of school uniforms. According to David Brunsma, an American Academic, after his analysis of two databases it was shown that there was no positive correlation between uniforms and school safety or achievement (Wilde, 2017). In another study held by Gregory on perceptions of high school students on the impact of a school uniform policy, the results indicated that uniforms by themselves have little to do with students' academic engagement. Most of the students believed that the bigger portion of their participation was mainly due to their teachers teaching pedagogy. Although various research indicated that uniforms have no direct effect on students' academic performance, there were still reliable studies who illustrated how school uniform policy could somehow serve as stepping stone factors for academic success. Like for example, as Gregory's research added, students also disclosed that in the presence of the mandatory uniform policy, the learning environment is enhanced allowing students to sharpen their focus on school works rather than on destructive fighting instances of teasing and jealousy. This, in turn, helps them to perform better academically (Gregory, 2013). This conclusion was even strengthened by the study directed by Virginia Draa's showing the reason why an in-depth connection between school uniforms and academic achievement were not clearly established by the abovementioned researches. According to the Draa, attendance, graduation, and proficiency pass rates do get affected by school uniform policy to a c...

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