General Question

justwannaknow's avatar

Should schools require uniforms for student dress?

Asked by justwannaknow (1369points) May 17th, 2009

Would it help schools be more for academics than for fashion? Would it be more helpful for parents that are struggling financially, so they do not find it necessary to by the latest styles so thier child is not picked on?

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20 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I was very against the idea of uniforms until my daughter started school (must be an individual).

Her school requires uniforms starting in first grade. Kindergarteners wear what they please. She’s in kindergarten. I can’t wait until first grade.

We spend at least twenty-five minutes either the night before or that morning choosing an outfit. And heaven forbid we’re behind on laundry and that “special” shirt is in the hamper.

Financially, I think it’s about even (we just bought her uniforms for next year), but the time savings alone is well worth it. Luckily, she actually likes the uniforms. They’re not bad looking.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Absolutely not. If parents want their kids in uniforms, they can send them to private school. If they can’t afford private school and their kids are smart, they can usually get scholarships or tuition help.

However, school is a good time to teach children that they can’t always get what they want—including new, stylish clothing every time the kid blinks. I find it to be absolutely ridiculous to use that as a “reason” for instilling uniforms in public schools. And if I sound bitter about it, it is because I am.

Also, styles will out. Switching to uniforms is pretty expensive at first and there is inevitably a style within the uniforms that is better and the accessories become all about the style. So even if my skirt and shirt are accounted for by the uniform, my jewelry or whatever become how I share my style. Then if you can’t do the latest bracelet trend or whatever you’re uncool anyway.

Plus you still need weekend and after-school clothes. Because if you think it’s unstylish to wear last year’s pants or whatever just WAIT until your kid shows up somewhere after school in their uniform. Ugg. Uniforms are awful. There’s really no excuse for doing them to public school kids.

As for not distracting, you see kids going to greater and greater lengths to stand out or show their own style. Uniforms were far more distracting for us than wearing what we wanted ever was.

@cprevite: That’s just part of being a girl and growing up. I’m pretty sure I did that as a kiddo when I first got to start choosing my own duds. Don’t worry, soon enough you’ll be teaching her than any deviation from the herd is unacceptable. (I’m particularly against uniforms for small children.)

Demonacle's avatar

IT IS NOT RIGHT AT ALL. I love it when chicks at my school wear really short shorts. Especially my gf.

TROLL's avatar

Uniforms are a great idea for children.
It stops quite alot of bullying by the fact that you cannot distinguish who is poor and we all know how cruel kids can be.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Troll: But as I was trying to point out, that’s simply not true at all. Everyone still knows. And you can still pick on them for it or not. It’s still quite obvious.

TROLL's avatar

@EmpressPixie i cant see antwhere in your post that refers to bullying.

bythebay's avatar

@EmpressPixie: I’ve been involved in studies and there’s merit to both sides. It does “level the playing field” somewhat, it has been shown to bring the focus more toward academics, and it can be far less expensive. But… kids will always be kids and uniforms certainly don’t cure the academic world of bullying. Our kids have been in non-uniform schools so far, but the high school where our son will go next year is uniformed – he can’t wait for the ease…and neither can we! :)

cookieman's avatar

@bythebay: Exactly.

To be clear @EmpressPixie, the only aspect of this I am interested in shaving time off of getting ready in the morning. To say that we will soon “be teaching her than any deviation from the herd is unacceptable” is a bit presumptuous.

ragingloli's avatar

It certainly would erase the issue of class room bullying because of clothes, and reduce the amount of discrimination of the poorer pupils by the wealthy, as it would now be not apparent on first sight whose parents are rich.
It also would instill a greater sense of unity and cohesion among classmates.
As long as the school pays for the uniform for families in less fortunate financial situations, i see no problems with it, and indeed some advantages.

also these japanese sailor uniforms for girls are sooooo hot :3

bythebay's avatar

The studies also vary wildly in outcome based on socio-economic group of the students. Uniforms in inner city schools has been shown to decrease violent activity and diminish gang symbol presence. I also think it would be quite a stretch to send a child to private school just for the sake of putting them in a uniform. We have a multitude of religious and other private schools in our area, and kids are always out & about in uniforms; nobody even looks twice.

EP, maybe your area wasn’t as densely saturated and you and your fellow students stood out more? I totally respect that your perception was truly your reality. As far as individuality, I believe it can be expressed in many ways and shouldn’t be discouraged. However, I also strongly feel that school uniforms don’t strip the child of their identity nor teach them that different is wrong. Just my opinion.

Also just my opinion that raginglolis last whispered comment was stupid and crass.

BookReader's avatar

…i exercised my right to an exemption…some people like them and some don’t- each has their reason(s)...

…i am pro-choice…

EmpressPixie's avatar

@cprevite: When she has a uniform and wearing the wrong shoes/socks/shirt/skirt/pants/etc gets her in trouble, that teaches that difference is bad. Especially at a young age like that.

@bythebay: I grew up in the New Orleans area. There were lots of kids out and about in uniforms, but only if they came directly from school. If you stopped at home, you had to change. Or be open to ridicule.

As for the financial argument, our first year of uniforms, they just told us the style of clothing and colors, but we were still able to buy the stuff individually. So that was out the window entirely—the popular, stylish kids still bought the pants from Abercrombie, it was the just blue pants.

The second year, after I got out because uggggg uniforms, they had several official providers and there was still a level of financial difference. From talking to friends, there is still a lot of the “stylish” kids get new stuff every year and, like I said, keep up appearances with accessories, while the less stylish kids just wear (omg, no!) last year’s stuff. You can still tell who is poor and who isn’t. It didn’t stop that at all.

There was definitely no financial aid in uniform purchase beyond some people donated old ones. Because you have to buy clothing anyway and this way they just dictate what you buy.

Also, I would admit that in a healthy school system uniforms may not encourage the “different is bad” mentality, but I don’t think you can assume that your kids will be in a healthy school system. I was in one of the best parishes for education in Louisiana and academics were still treated like an inconvenience on the way to playing football.

HeroicZach's avatar

I feel like I’m taking the ACT with this question.

Anyway, being what seems like the only person here that’s actually in high school at the moment, my opinion is that the supports for school uniforms are weak. Reducing time getting ready in the morning and such is meaningless – most of your time spent getting ready in the morning in the secondary school years (where this actually counts and where kids would actually voice opposition), especially for girls, is spent on personal stuff, like showering, fixing hair, makeup, etc.

Despite what a lot of people say about “focusing on education,” one of the prevailing purposes of school is to prepare people to live and function in society, where constant interaction with other people is required. You cannot pick up your “society uniform” and wear that – you need to discover how to do that yourself while you are in high school. Sure, you might be made fun of – so you correct those mistakes now. There is inherent value in living within the school society, and this is the same reason why I believe homeschooling is crippling and something to which parents should never, under any circumstance, subject their children.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Oh! And as an aside to a topic I’m not sure I’ve addressed, I’ve never cared much about wearing the latest stuff or the fashionable stuff and I was certainly never picked on for wearing unstylish clothing. There were totally better reasons to pick on me, like being smart. Frankly, I’d rather have my future kids get picked on because I’m not about to spend tons on their wardrobe and have them rail at me for it than get picked on for something they can actually change like being smart. I would really hate for them to internalize that smart is bad.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I went to high school in clothes from Kmart when my classmates all wore designer outfits. I go teased, sure. I learned that my true friends didn’t care if I was poor. Kids might as well learn this in middle/high school. Uniforms won’t make that much of a difference in social stratification. That will happen anyway.

Dansedescygnes's avatar

I agree completely with @HeroicZach and I am also actually in high school and have recently lived the school experience from 1996–2009.

I can’t express much support for uniforms since I haven’t had much experience that would call for them. First of all, how often are people really made fun of for their clothes? Most of what I see is people complementing other people on their clothes. (This usually happens with females). I see girls wear something and get complemented on it, even from people they don’t normally hang out with. It’s always “I like your shirt” or “love your shoes” or something like that. As for guys, people almost never comment on guys’ clothes unless they’re wearing something striking or wearing something they’ve never worn before (which has been the case with me). I’ve been known to dress somewhat flamboyantly and I’ve gotten only positive comments.

Secondly, I’ve never seen much to argue that poor and rich show through clothing. I know a guy at school who’s from a very wealthy family, but he just wears normal clothing like jeans and a sweatshirt. He looks like anyone else. I know other wealthy people who tend to wear whatever is popular or just put on a T-shirt and shorts (or with girls, they put on those form-fitting jeans that everyone has or they wear short shorts or something along those lines)...those aren’t exactly indicators of wealth. You don’t see too many $88 Lacoste polo-shirts. At my school, the kids who are “poorer” are usually from the “ghetto” and wear ghetto-style clothing. That’s completely their own choice. I’ve seen them wear some stuff that I’ve seen at Macy’s Men’s Store, which is not exactly cheap. There are a lot of stores that will sell perfectly normal-looking clothing for cheap. No one has to shop at Macy’s or Pac Sun or Abercrombie. Also, like EmpressPixie said, everyone will already know. Word gets out about who’s wealthy and who’s not. Clothing is not what does it. It’s your fancy car, it’s your ability to go on numerous vacations, it’s not your freakin’ clothing. And to put it on a grim note, I agree with @aprilsimnel.

Thirdly, school is monotonous enough. It’s a routine, it’s boring, and that affects some kids more than others. Shouldn’t they be allowed to express themselves in this one way? I find wearing clothes to be enjoyable, I love wearing what I think looks cool and sometimes I don’t mind wearing some weird stuff to just try it out. It does make going to school more fun; I can speak from experience.

All in all, I’ve been going to school for 13 years, never had to wear uniforms, and I’ve never wished I had to wear uniforms. And that kind of sums it up, since most people who had bad experiences with clothing in school support uniforms and those who had good experiences don’t support uniforms. It’s kind of hard to change your experiences; it’s not easy to come to a middle ground on the uniform issue since it’s something that affects all people at the school.

sakura's avatar

Here in the UK all children wear uniforms, primary and secondary it’s only when you get to college (16+) that you get to wear your own clothes.
It’s a big thing over here to go to school and get your uniform, its all part of the process then when you go to secondary getting your big girls uniform it is another momentous occassion!!

We tended to customise our uniforms a bit, wore our ties different ways and certin styles of skirts came and went (short/long/pleated etc..) It helps give the school an over all identity and fuelled friendly rivalry at sporting events etc… It also gives thechildren a sense of belonging to the school and we were always proud of saying we came from our school.

I didn’t have a problem wearing it, it was the norm!

I have a 10 year old daughter and I am so glad she wears a uniform it takes her long enough to get ready with out the added hassle of what she is going to wear!!

I can see why people argue for individuality but uniforms really do help with a sense of belonging here in UK schools!

casheroo's avatar

My public school district was slowly changing to uniforms, the year I left. First all the grade schools, then they did the middle schools and I believe the year I was to graduated, they did the high school.
My high school had over 4,000. They also had changed the stairwells to which were to be used as only up stairs, and which were to be used as only down stairs. It was quite ridiculous. The uniforms were laxxed though. You could wear thwo types of pants or skirts (khaki or navy I believe) I think any white shirt and I forget what else. I don’t know why they did it. They are such a large district, encompassing all sorts of levels of income students, mainly middle to low income though.
I think it can be a good thing. Especially in areas with gang issues, but I never knew of any fights in my school district over what people wore. We had issues with more slutty dressing girls than anything. So, that was curbed a lot.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

if you’re trying to put less emphasis on clothing, it seems quite silly to me to make a rule that explicitly rules out 99% of clothing styles. i’ve yet to see grades go up because of a transition to uniforms, or a decline in grades due to a transition back to regular clothing.

i originally read the question with unicorns in place of uniforms, so apologies if my answer isn’t very deep.

sakura's avatar

not sure uniforms make grades go up but I think they do improve the schools sense of community and pride, well it did at my school!

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