Schools should allow students to wear their choice of attire

In 2017, according to Statistic Brain, 23% of all public and private schools had a uniform policy. Although uniforms may diminish economic and social barriers between students and increase a sense of belonging and school pride, schools should allow students to wear their choice of attire.

Research has shown that uniforms do not improve school safety or academic achievement. David L. Brunsma is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Tech and author of The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education: A Symbolic Crusade. In his 2004 book, he explored the effect of uniforms on academic performance. Through analyzing the 1988 National Educational Longitudinal Study and the 1998 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Brunsma declared that there is,no effects of uniforms on absenteeism, behavioral problems (fights, suspensions, etc.), or substance use on campus” and “no effects” on “pro-school attitudes, academic preparedness, and peer attitudes toward school.”

As a whole, I feel like students should be able to feel less restricted. They should be able to wear whatever they want with some exception such as graphic t-shirts with profane language because they can express themselves.”

— Naomi Wilson

Furthermore, uniforms are equally ineffective on elementary and middle school students. As stated in 2009 peer-reviewed study, “no significant effects of school uniforms on performance on second grade reading and mathematics examinations, as well as on 10th-grade reading, mathematics, science, and history examinations…In many of the specifications, the results are actually negative.”

Uniforms impose extra expense on family members. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual cost of private high school is $13,030. St. Paul Academy costs about double at $28,150. Parents already pay taxes, the tuition, and still need to buy regular clothes for when they are out of school and dress down days. According to an article by WGAL News 8, some children were missing class because their families couldn’t afford to purchase the required uniforms in York County, Pennsylvania. Implementing uniforms undermines the fundamental reason of attending school; to learn, by affecting the attendance rates, it negatively impacts their academic achievement.

School uniforms restrict students’ freedom of expression. The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees that all individuals have the right to express themselves freely. The US Supreme Court stated in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (7-2, 1969) that “it can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Currently, SPA requires students in the lower school to wear uniforms, but Junior JJ Werkin believes SPA should not require uniforms at all through grades k-12.

“I think that when you do not wear uniforms it tells who you are, shows what kind of things you like to wear, and what you are comfortable with…[Even in lower school], I don’t see the benefits of wearing uniforms because I don’t think it really changed my behavior at all.”

9th grader Naomi Wilson agrees.

“As a whole, I feel like students should be able to feel less restricted. They should be able to wear whatever they want with some exception such as graphic t-shirts with profane language because they can express themselves.”

Clearly, uniforms should be not required in the middle and upper-school. There are so many more physiologically, financial, academical, and legal benefits of having the freedom of expression through clothing.

It is a good idea to have uniforms in the lower school because the students are developing mentally at a faster pace and having uniforms will help form a better community. By middle and upper school, students have already formed close friends groups, but still are able to communicate with people outside of them. There is no need for uniforms once the adolescent age is reached.

Read the opposing article by Noah Raaum.