Many agree that educational opportunities should be available to every child. No matter what their gender or socioeconomic status may be, children deserve every chance to succeed. The benefit of requiring school uniforms in a learning environment is that it reflects this equality. Instead of having children focus on the brands they wear or the fashion they can afford to create cliques, they can focus on their learning environment instead.
The disadvantage of requiring school uniforms is that it puts a cost on parents, guardians, and school districts that is often considered to be unnecessary. Not only do the students need “regular” clothes, but there must also be “school” clothes. Even with subsidies and discounts, the cost of one school uniform could be $20-$50. Here are some of the additional school uniforms pros and cons to consider as well.
What Are the Pros of School Uniforms?
1. There is no pressure on the student to decide what they should wear each day.
Because a school uniform limits the options a student has for clothing, there is less pressure to get through the morning routine. This often allows students to sleep a bit more because less time is required to get ready. Many school uniform policies still allow for individual taste, allowing for different colors or outfits, such as the inclusion of skorts or jumpers in addition to pants.
2. The costs of uniforms can be managed.
Although the cost of a uniform can be difficult on some families, it can often be managed. Many schools which require one specific daily uniform can purchase clothing in bulk, saving money for disadvantaged families. PTA buy-back programs, fundraisers, crowdfunding, and community supports are often in place to help with the costs as well.
3. Student attendance is better in schools with uniform policies.
When there is a mandatory school uniform code in place, statistics show that student attendance rises. This is because classrooms become more disciplined and orderly, allowing students to evaluate themselves instead of evaluating how they compare to their peers. The uniformity that is created lessens tensions, bullying, and violence that can occur in schools, which improves attendance.
4. It becomes easier to identify trespassers.
When students are required to follow a specific dress code, it becomes much easier to identify people who may not be allowed on campus. If an intruder is wearing something different that the school uniform, they stick out like a sore thumb when surrounded by students and teachers who are following the dress code.
5. It’s easier to find children when a class is off-campus.
If a class is on a field trip, then it becomes easier for teachers and school administrators to quickly identify the children who are with the group. It’s also a useful tool to locate children that may leave a school campus without permission for some reason. This lessens the risk of having a child go missing.
6. School uniforms create an automatic age identification.
School uniforms automatically identify children as being a student. This is useful for older students who may be trying to take advantage of them in some way. It is more difficult to serve minors alcohol or allow them to purchase cigarettes when they are wearing a school uniform.
7. They can be used as a method of discipline.
Many teachers have “challenging” children in their classrooms. There is often a lack of discipline at home, which means a child from such an environment will struggle to independently follow rules, guidelines, and expectations. Having a school uniform policy with strict rules gives teachers and administrators an opportunity to begin teaching the discipline these students will need later on in life. Having a shirt untucked creates a teaching opportunity.
8. It provides a sense of self-esteem.
Adults often dress up in some way to go to work every day. Even if the environment is casual, adults tend to put on their best outfits. They do so because they want to feel confident and leave a positive first impression to others. It is a boost to the self-esteem. School uniforms do the same thing for students, helping them to feel like a “professional” just like their parents or guardians.
9. Uniforms limit family in-fighting when it comes to school clothes.
The summer surge for new school clothes can be intense. Favorite characters, football jerseys, and designer jeans can become arguments within families very quickly. School uniforms lay out a set of rigid expectations that everyone must follow, which means the shopping process becomes pretty simple and straightforward.
10. Optional items can allow students to still express themselves.
Allowing students to wear jewelry, hair ties, and other optional items can still offer students a chance to express their individuality.
What Are the Cons of School Uniforms?
1. It may lessen competition and teasing, but it doesn’t eliminate it.
There are several top brands that produce school uniforms today. These brands, when identified, can show off the socioeconomic status of a student even if their outward appearance looks the same as everyone else. Schools can put in a policy to limit branding on the clothing, but kids still know if someone is wearing something new from Volcom or French Toast instead of a $1 recycled hand-me-down from the PTA.
2. School uniforms are almost always an annual cost.
Most children need 3-5 different school uniforms in order to make it through the week. Because kids will be kids, you can expect to be replacing at least one pair of pants that were torn at the knees during the year, as well as a paint-splattered uniform shirt or two. Additional shoes may also be required, which is another added cost. This means an added expense that some families may feel is completely unnecessary.
3. It can give a specific school a bad reputation.
When students are caught getting into trouble while wearing a specific uniform from a school, then the reputation of that student becomes the reputation of that school. If there are enough incidents that involve students from the same school, parents may opt out of sending their child there, taking advantage of school waiver or voucher programs instead.
4. In an effort to create equality, school uniforms can create segregation.
There can be a lot of politics involved in the creation of a school uniform policy. Girls might be allowed to wear skirts, but boys might be required to wear pants only. On the other hand, boys might be required to wear ties and girls might not be required to wear anything around the neck. This creates a difference in gender equality in the minds of some students and parents, which eliminates the benefits of “sameness” that a school uniform policy attempts to make in the first place.
5. It eliminates a form of student individuality.
Students who wear school uniforms may be more likely to pursue an education that is freer from peer pressure, but it also eliminates one form of their identity. It is difficult to express your individuality through fashion when you are forced to wear the same thing as everyone else is wearing to school every day.
6. Most kids hate wearing school uniforms.
If you ask the average child who attends a school that requires a uniform to be worn, you’ll receive statements like this. “I don’t like it because I have to wear the same thing every day.” Or “You really can’t do anything for yourself when wearing your uniform.” It becomes even worse when students are required to follow a specific uniform code, but their teachers can wear whatever they want to wear in the classroom. “Why do I need to wear a uniform when my teacher does not?”
7. School uniforms often look pretty lousy.
Many school uniforms involve stripes, bright colors, and school branding in some way. They’re often made from canvas materials that are designed to be tough, but don’t feel great to wear. Most kids are not going to want to wear their school uniform clothing unless they are going to school. They get home, change into “regular” clothes, and then go on with their day.
8. Kids still get teased when they wear school uniforms.
This is especially true in school districts where only one or two schools out of several require a uniform code. The goal of the uniform might be to reduce teasing and this might happen on school grounds, but once the kids leave school for the day, those who don’t need to wear uniforms will often tease those who do need to wear them.
These school uniforms pros and cons show that when implemented with compassion and a lack of politics, it can potentially provide an environment of equality that allows a student to focus on their studies instead of fashion. On the other hand, it is the kids who need to wear these uniforms on a daily basis and most of them, if honest, will say that they hate wearing them. That has to count for something too.