Implementing School Uniform Policy in Public Schools
School uniform policies have become an important debate among public schools in the United States. The school district in Long Beach, California was the one of the first public schools to adopt a mandated uniform policy. The success that this school had, along with other schools that followed this path, does not seem to be enough evidence to convince other school leaders that school uniforms has a great impact on the students in behavior and academic success. Arguments among school leaders, parents, and students range from not enough statistical research to prove that the uniforms ...view middle of the document...
“The uniforms have come to be synonymous with status and elitism. They also connote to members of the community that learning occurs in this environment” (Peters, 1996, p. 36). When enlisted in the military or accepted into a private school the individual and parent know that there is a uniform policy that is required, so there is not any issue of debate on whether or not uniforms should be mandated. However, in public schools it is very trying for the school officials to enforce these policies.
School Districts that require students to wear school uniforms say they have seen an increase in school safety, a decrease in absences, and improved academic performance. Long Beach, California was one of the first large urban cities to acquire a school uniform policy. Mancini (1997) stated that “school crimes such as fighting, theft, weapons possession, and assaults have declined by 36% since the district began requiring elementary and middle-school students to wear uniforms three years ago” (p.62). Along with the drop in crime, attendance increased to a record ninety-five percent in its first years and higher test scores in reading and math (Schachter, 2005, p. 48). Researchers have said that there is not enough evidence that school uniforms are the sole reason for the students’ behavior and academic improvement. However, David Brunsma (2008), a sociology professor at the University of Missouri, states that “it isn’t true that there has been no empirical research conducted to assess the effectiveness of school uniforms or student behavior and educational outcomes, yet there is much to be done” (Boutella, 2007, p. 37).
What little evidence that has been provided by the schools that require school uniforms is enough to prove that uniforms do improve the safety of the students:
Students who feel safe from threats of violence perform better academically. Fear of violence can naturally lead to truancy as well. Teachers, too, are better able to do the job they are meant to do if the learning environment is safe. Surveys of teachers in Dade County, Florida and secondary school principals at a national meeting in 1996 indicate that a majority of teachers and principals believe that requiring school uniforms would reduce violence and discipline problems (Rockney, 2005, p. 8).
Critics of school uniforms feel like the change is only cosmetic and does not eliminate the fighting or gang violence that will still occur outside of school once the uniforms come off of the students. “…mandating the wearing of school uniforms might even make it easier to be a gang member since school administrators could no longer readily recognize the trappings of gangs” (Evans, 1996, p. 139). Whether this be the case or not, requiring uniforms allows for faculty and staff to easily identify intruders inside the school that do not belong there. Uniforms also help to identify students of the school while on class trips by all students wearing the same attire. Even...