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Why You Should Push for School Uniforms

School Uniforms debate

As a parent, you have surely encountered the hot topic of the School Uniforms debate in your children’s schools. Most schools have free dress with a list of guidelines - guidelines that are often ignored or hard to enforce, and particularly hard to buy for. Since school dress codes are hard to enforce due to personal interpretations by parents, students, and staff, it would be smart for schools in America to move towards implementing school uniforms in public schools. While there are arguments against school uniforms, the positive aspects surrounding school uniforms can outweigh the negatives.

Uniforms are easy to enforce and create a professional environment

School dress codes are notorious for being difficult to enforce. The ambiguity of the rules and guidelines associated with dress codes are often left to the personal interpretation of the person reading them, and that has led to some controversy over gender bias, with the idea that dress codes are there to police girls’ bodies as to not distract boys. Some schools take this to an extreme, but other schools view the dress code as a standard for appropriate dress in an educational environment.

Implementing uniforms would make the school dress code infinitely easier to enforce because there would be a clear set of guidelines that applied to everyone equally. Having a clear and specific dress code for school will also instill a sense of professionalism in students. They will learn to recognize that professional working environments all have some sort standard of dress they will need to follow. While these days, many offices are moving toward a more casual dress code, dressing professionally in interviews is still expected and necessary for job hunting.

Uniforms fight bullying and present an even playing field

It’s not a secret that brand names on clothing are a quick and easy way to see how much people are spending on their clothing, and kids and teens old enough to recognize socioeconomic differences like to use this to judge their classmates. Kids will bully others who aren’t wearing the “right” clothing brand or style, and since bullying is one of the top issues reported in schools, it makes sense to address this factor. While yes, children and teens will always find some way to bully one another, taking away such a superficial reason is a step in the right direction.

With the classist issue of clothing brands and style taken away, kids are presented with a more even playing field within the school. Many kids, even if they don’t actively bully other students, will form cliques and friend groups based on appearance. The addition on uniforms is a great way for kids to get to know each other and come together based on personality and shared interests. Having uniforms may even form an initial sense of kinship between students in the same way team uniforms for sports do. Parents and students alike worry that uniforms will take suppress creativity, but that is far from true. Take away expression through clothing, and those who wish to stand out will find different and more creative ways to do it. It will force kids to think outside of the box and be creative in unique and constructive ways.

Uniforms are affordable

Uniforms tend to have a reputation for being extremely expensive. This stereotype stems from the fact that uniforms are associated with private schools, which are expensive all by themselves. Private schools tend to use uniforms that are designed specifically for their schools, so their cost reflects that. Uniforms that would be used in public schools would be much more plain and affordable. About 20% of public schools in the United States that already use uniforms, and the uniforms typically consists of a solid color polo shirt of the school’s choosing, and then khaki, navy, or black slacks and skirts. These uniform pieces can be found affordably on sites like Frenchtoast.com and Amazon.com, and even many major retailers like Old Navy, Target, and JC Penney.

If you look at the prices for the basic pieces on Frenchtoast.com, you can get two bottoms and three tops for less than $100. With school uniforms, you can get away with a few pieces like this because the same clothes are worn every day, and would be able to replace one piece at a time as things wore out or got too small. With free dress, you would spend much more getting several unique outfits throughout the year. For families that can’t afford to buy uniforms, some would be able to get help from the school through donations and payment plans, or even access to free uniforms with the same financial requirements that apply to the free lunch programs. As uniforms became more widely use over the years, access to hand-me-downs and second hands stores would also be available.

While uniforms would initially be a big change, it is one well worth making. The positives associated with uniforms are enough to argue the negatives. So many other countries already have uniforms throughout their public school system, and the US should hop on board. So many students would benefit from school uniforms, even if they can’t see it at first. If you think your child’s school or school district would benefit from uniforms, contact you school administrators and discuss with them the possibilities.

Mila is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Linguistics. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and studying foreign languages.