School uniform requirement Essay

This essay has a total of 2890 words and 11 pages.

school uniform requirement

It's official -- the largest school district in the U.S. has adopted school uniforms. Over
a half-million elementary-school students in New York City will have to adhere to a dress
code by the Fall of 1999. The president of the school board said the policy is "important
to diminish peer pressure and promote school pride," but that it's not "an act of magic to
transform schools overnight....It isn't going to replace good teaching, good principals,
small classrooms."

It's a fashion trend that's spreading. From Los Angeles to Louisiana, from Maryland to
Miami, public schools are discussing, and in many cases adopting, the old private school
idea. School uniforms are designed to help kids focus on algebra instead of high-tops; to
make students compete for grades rather than jackets.

"It helps to get up in the morning and not have to think about what you're going to wear,"
said Maria, a ninth-grader who swims, plays soccer, and wears exactly what everybody else
does at her high school in Washington, DC. Each school day, Maria dons an all-white oxford
shirt, brown shoes, and a gray/maroon plaid skirt that has to be long enough to the touch
the ground when she kneels. After school and on weekends, of course, all bets are off.
Maria has a simple yet effective strategy: she borrows her friends' clothes, typically
baggy jeans.

School uniforms also take the pressure off students to pay top dollar for clothes,
according to Reginald Wilson, a senior scholar at the American Council on Education in
Washington, D.C. "I think it does lower the cost of clothes, and kids don't emphasize
clothes as much when they're all wearing the same thing," Wilson said. "Certainly the
competition to wear the best shoes or the best sweaters and so forth has been prevalent in
school ever since I was in school, and the poor kids felt inferior."

The 'training' argument says that when you are employed, you are likely to have to wear a
uniform. Is this true? What are the odds that children will wear a uniform later in life?
Typically, the occupations where people have to wear uniforms are the lower paid jobs,
nothing to look forward to, really. Generally, the more educated people are, the less they
wear uniforms later in life. Look at teachers, they don't wear uniforms! Well-paid work
tends to reject uniformity, and for good reason, the demands of the future include
qualities such as assertiveness, creativity, individuality, originality, a spontaneous
personality, being a self-starter, taking initiatives, being able to cope with change,
etc. And even the people who do wear a uniform later in life are unlikely to accept such a
silly costume as a school uniform. Only for prostitutes is the school uniform an
obligatory part of their professional wardrobe (and one may wonder why). What is the logic
behind forcing children in uniforms? That children have to get used to wearing a uniform,
just in the unfortunate case that they will end up in such a job later in life? If we turn
around the same 'logic', students who are used to wearing uniforms would be insufficiently
prepared for plain-clothed work, if they did not wear plain clothes at school all the
time. Similarly, students would not be able to deal with people who didn't wear uniforms.
It just doesn't make sense.

There is one deeper argument. It goes like this: students waering uniforms will be
accustomed to taking a servile attitude which will help them find work later in life. Of
course, the very opposite could be argued with more reason. Does success in future demand
a servile attitude? Or is it more helpful to be creative, have an spontaneous and open
personality, an inquisitive mind, be a self-starter who talks things over, who has an
independent mind searching for new ideas to make things work?

See? Examine an argument that supposedly favored school uniforms more closely, and it
either doesn't make sense or it turns into an argument against school uniforms. That's why
schools who seek to introduce uniforms typcially prefer to do so without any debate on the
issue! Anyway, let's continue with the next argument.

The 'equity' argument goes like this: If children wear uniforms, they do not notice
differences between children from rich and from poor families. This 'equity' argument is
often put forward by State Schools. The reason for this may be that it is a purely
socialist argument and it may be rejected for this reason alone. In a democratic country,
school should not indoctrinate children with a specific political ideology, especially not
a government-funded school. Interestingly, private schools typically are even more
fanatical about uniforms, but they are less inclined to use the 'equity' argument.

Anyway, even as a socialist argument, it does not make much sense. School uniforms may
make all students look alike. But why do the teachers not wear the same uniforms? Clearly,
school does not like any confusion as to who is the teacher and who is the student. The
master-slave relationship that is so obviously present at school is deliberately magnified
by uniforms that emphasize this difference. The teacher is allowed to dress casually,
while the student has to wear silly clothes intended to make the student look stupid.

Furthermore, there are often different uniforms for those in higher grades than for those
in lower grades, just like in the military a superior officer wears a less silly hat. This
creates class differences. Some will argue that this merely reflects existing differences.
But the point is that if this were accurate, it constituted an argument against
uniformity. Moreover, school itself creates class differences. Class is a trademark, if
not an invention of school. Children are grouped together in classes according to age and
often according to gender and to perceived academic performance. Because parents want
their children to mix with children of their 'own class', they carefully select the
neighborhood where they are going to live. Houses close to private schools are often
substantially more expensive than similar houses close to state schools. On the street,
children are identified by their uniform. 'Oh, you come from that poor school, you dummy!'
is an example of what children say to each other when they look at each other's uniform.
And even in the classroom, uniforms only accentuate differences in length, hair color and
other physical characteristics. Children consequently judge each other by their physical
appearances. One can argue whether it were better if children judged each other by their
clothes instead.

Ease and Cost?
From a financial point of view, the socialist argument does not make sense either. School
uniforms are expensive, by their nature they are produced in limited numbers, they have to
be special. Furthermore, school uniforms are typically made of polycotton, because if they
were made of pure cotton, they would fade after a few washings and there would be color
differences between the uniforms of various pupils, which goes against the very idea of
uniformity. Therefore, school uniforms are far more expensive than the cheap cotton
clothing people normally like to wear. The situation is also prone to exploitation by
unfair trade practices, unhealthy schemes, favoratism and cronyism, e.g. deals in which
secret bribes are paid for the privilege of exclusively and 'locally' producing and
selling such school uniforms. One pays the price for not being able to choose the often
cheap imports from countries such as China and India.

Some parents argue that because of school uniforms, they do not have to buy many clothes
for their children, which saves them time and money. But most children will have plain
clothes next to their school uniform. The idea of a school uniform is that students wear
the uniform at school, but do not wear the uniform, say, at a disco or other events
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