Arguments For and Against School Dress Codes
Why We Need Dress Codes
Dress codes in schools began as early as the 1950s and 60s when schools were on a campaign to curb juvenile delinquency. School districts decided that having rules for the type of clothing worn are useful for having boundaries all can follow, but unless your heart is convinced, you’ll be miserable as you reluctantly obey the rules.
It is sad that all manners (including dress) have declined to the point that they must now be legislated, but at least legislating such behaviors will instill better habits. A lot of high school students feel that school dress codes are stupid.
Many students have expressed their unhappiness at the thought of a school dress code. I think they imagine themselves wearing military garb and being forced to salute. It's not like that at all. Yes, there are military-type schools and some programs such as ROTC that require uniforms, but this article is about whether having a "uniform" look to the school and attire is the best choice or not.
Arguments for Uniforms
Uniform clothing rules are supposed to reduce violence and bullying by taking style differences out of the equation, according to the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Since the Clinton administration, the Education Department has encouraged schools to go further by adopting uniforms, saying they promote safety and discipline
Dress code rules for high school students also prevent them from wearing gang colors to campus. A unified look is a good rule for many reasons that kids would not realize unless they were responsible for purchasing and maintaining their own wardrobe. They are provided (either free or at a small cost, everything else like tuition and books etc is free) or the parents can choose to follow the general guidelines. Some districts are more lenient but they're all pretty much the same. Children need rules and guidance.
Philadelphia School Board President Camino Hawing said the district is working on getting Hispanic parents more involved with the schools. And he said that the district hopes the parents will network and convince others to show up at various district meetings. One of our principals has tried for several years to make uniforms mandatory but enough of the parents have protested and kept the issue from being passed. In May 2000, the Philadelphia School Board approved a mandatory school uniform policy for all students. Each school in the district will decide individually on the dress policy for its school.
In the Springfield, MO, some boys reported that looking “gangsta” is where it’s at … and the girls seem to love that “hootchie mama ho” look. A Springfield Police Department representative made a brief Powerpoint presentation on the presence of gang-related activity in schools. Identification, resulting in intervention, was the main theme of his talk. The argument for uniforms would make it easier to identify those students that belonged at that school and those that were illegally there. Many gang members will not wear uniforms and sneak in the back doors to try to start trouble or get other students to join them.
This problem is not just in the cities but is spilling out in rural areas, for some time.I taught in a school district that was populated with many students that had moved away from inner city problems and gang activity. It was apparent that the gangs had moved out into the suburbs and gangs were roaming the hallways of the high school and middle school where I taught. The violence hand gang symbols were appearing more frequently. I finally decided to leave teaching when gang members tried pushing me down the stairs.
The National School Board Association estimates that approximately 135,000 guns are brought to Americas 85,000 public schools each day. This is one reason school districts use to implement dress codes. The board may choose to add a parental opt-out clause; children of parents who choose to opt out shall not be sanctioned academically or otherwise. Students who belong to a "nationally recognized youth organization" must be allowed to wear that organization's uniform to school "on days that the organization has scheduled a meeting.”
Local boards also may create policies that forbid students from wearing gang-related clothing or accessories. The Court held that the determination of what manner of speech in the classroom or in school assembly is inappropriate properly rests with the school board. It was perfectly appropriate for the school to disassociate itself to make the point to the pupils that vulgar speech and lewd conduct are wholly inconsistent with the fundamental values of public school education.
Arguments Against Dress Codes and Uniforms
What would happen if kids could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted? They feel that they would be turned into robots without the ability to express themselves in a society that promotes self-expression and individuality. The problem is that the cost of expressing oneself and being an individual can be astronomical.
There are students that think wearing a simple shirt that says "Jesus Freak" or socks that have cartoon characters are harmless and their right to choose their individual style of clothing. At least allowing denim into the dress code would not hurt anything and would make the students themselves a lot happier at school.
Wearing uniforms will only increase tension between students and administrators. People who advocate these clothing styles obviously feel powerless in the fight for better schools and think that if schools have a well-maintained appearance then all the other factors will just fall into place. Wearing proper clothing helps people dress for success. Many think it is beneficial for learning when fashion's latest trend and all that comes along with it do not distract them.
Students wearing uniforms
The adoption of a school-wide uniform policy is a reasonable way to provide some protection for students. Some clothing may be offensive to students and staff and may disrupt or distract the learning process. This standard asks whether school officials can reasonably forecast whether the student expression will cause a substantial disruption or material interference with school activities. All clothing should be appropriate to the student’s age, the school setting, and weather conditions. Both students and parents share the responsibility for the student's attire because clothing often sets the pattern for behavior.
Students also need to remember that, in the big picture, being asked to dress a certain way for a few hours a day is not really as arduous as it might seem. Hopefully, the big picture will prevail and common sense will rule. I suppose students will always want to break the rules and push the limits, especially in high school. These suggestions are for their protection as well as, everyone else’s education. After all, isn’t that why they are in school?
The age group deciding on school dress codes
What age group do you belong to?
Do you think school uniforms are a good idea?
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© 2008 Stacie L