Dress Codes and School Uniforms
The ringing of the alarm clock that is placed conveniently beside your bed wakes you. The sound startles your brain into getting out of your warm, cozy bed. It is time to go to school. You must wake up now in order to make it on time. If you are late again, your teacher will probably give you that nasty look of dismissal. What are you going to wear?
Is this a dilemma you face each morning? Do you have trouble wanting to get out of your bed, and then you are faced with the troubling question of what cool, clean, unwrinkled outfit you should wear that day? Do you think your life would be easier if you could just throw on a uniform? This way you might not have to think so hard in the morning, right after that bellowing alarm clock frightens you into facing the world.
Or do you like being able to express your individuality? This is an important question to think about. The first amendment gives each person in this nation the right to free expression. You should be able to dress as you wish and not feel pressured to dress in a uniform manner, with the rest of you student body. Right? I agree with this latter statement.
"Currently 20% of the nation's school districts use uniforms, most of them voluntarily" (Portner, 2001). The states included in this percentage are: California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. Long Beach, California was the first to enforce voluntary school uniform policies into their schools. There are 60 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, and one high school in Long Beach that have introduced this policy. There are over 72,000 students wearing school uniforms in Long Beach, California. Of these 72,000 students, only about 1,500 parents request exemption for their children from the policy. The students there wear navy blue or black shorts, pants, skirts, skorts or jumpers, and white shirts or blouses. In Long Beach, there has been a major decrease of violence and discipline since 1994 ("Fact Sheet On School Uniforms," 2001). Proponents believe that school uniforms have been a major contribution to this decrease.
What is the purpose of a school uniform? Where did this idea come from? Whether to wear a uniform or not has been a major debate for decades. The idea has been debated since the 1980's and was an issue when candidates ran for president in the 1990's. "Parochial and private schools have a long history of using school uniforms to project an atmosphere of uniformity, pride, loyalty, and equality among the student population" ("Educational Schools Uniforms," 1997).
There are some purposes suggested by proponents of school uniforms. Since the Columbine High School tragedy, "school leaders have been grasping at any policy that could contribute to a more civil, safe and tolerant school environment" (Marchant, 1999). If every student in a school wore the same type of clothing, it would be easy for school officials to detect...