STATE POLLING DATA:
School uniforms range from the formal to the informal. Some schools that have implemented school uniforms have chosen what one usually thinks of in connection to typical parochial schools: nice pants and white shirts for boys, jumpers and white shirts for girls. However, most public schools are turning to something more casual and more acceptable to parents and students: khakis or jeans and knit shirts of varying colors. The latter appear to be more affordable too because they can be used outside of school. School uniforms stress that individuality and self-expression are not determined by designer clothing or the latest fashion fad. Many school districts that have implemented school uniforms have provided some sort of financial assistance for families that cannot afford the extra expense.
WHAT THIS BILL WOULD DO:
This bill will require all public schools to adopt a mandatory school uniform to be worn by all Elementary through High School students. The stated purpose of this initiative is to reduce peer pressure, improve student discipline and decrease violence among city students. Funding will come from each school’s annual budget, through private donations, and through fundraising. Each school district will provide the uniforms to families unable to afford them. Schools and parents will work together to make uniforms available to families that are economically disadvantaged and used uniforms from graduates will be made available for incoming students.
Some say that a child in a school uniform is more likely to take school seriously. Putting on the school uniform signals he or she is going to school just like dad dresses up to go to work. Schools report that when students dress in "work clothes" rather than "play clothes" they take a more serious approach to their studies. School uniforms are a bargain. They are becoming far less expensive than many other clothes. Schools argue that school uniforms are economical, especially compared to designer clothing. They say school uniforms last longer because they are made for repeated wash and wear. Many schools capitalize on this by starting used school uniform stores or swap meets. Parents can get used school uniforms at discount prices, or just use them as hand-me-downs between siblings.
Opponents insist that there is no credible evidence that school uniforms improve school discipline or promote higher academic achievement. The principal argument is that some great students are terrible dressers. Dress does not necessarily improve learning. Suppressing individuality is the most commonly cited objection to school uniforms. Educators argue that an academic program encouraging students to pursue individual thought is much more important than what they wear. They inhibit creativity and self-expression, forcing students to conform. Finally, school uniforms are expensive and have no use outside of school.
Many educators and sociology experts believe that students who wear school uniforms perform better academically in school. Students are often so focused on their wardrobe that it distracts them from learning. Some experts believe that a mandatory uniform policy will remove this distraction and improve student attention. They believe uniforms set a more serious tone within the school environment that is conducive to learning and can improve student performance. They also believe that school uniforms improve student attendance. Many parents report that their children spend a great deal of time planning and choosing their daily clothing, and that uniforms allow students to use this time to sleep or study.