The argument over school uniforms has been going on for decades; do uniforms for students do anything at all to help their education, or are they limiting for students looking to express themselves? With 33,619 private schools in the United States, serving 5.4 million PK-12 students, there are plenty of parents looking to know for sure. Read on to learn the truth about school uniforms, and what purpose they have in schools everywhere today.
About one in five U.S. public schools (21%) required students to wear uniforms during the 2015-2016 school year, up from one in eight in 2003-2004.
The Positives: How Uniforms Can Help
Many researchers have proposed the potential benefits of incorporating school uniforms, leading many public schools to also adopt the practice. Most arguments center around being able to focus in class; when students are not preoccupied as much with their appearance, they’re better able to direct their attention to important matters like academics.
Other arguments also address safety matters that are simplified by school uniforms. When all students are required to wear similar or the same style of clothing, it’s easier to spot people who don’t belong on campus. Similarly, students are unable to wear clothing that reflects gang affiliation when restricted by a school uniform, overall making campuses and schools safer.
The Negatives: Why Some Schools Skip On Uniforms
Despite research outlining the positives, there are still many parents and professionals concerned over the downsides of school uniforms. Many parents worry that it limits creativity and freedom of expression for students. Without being able to explore their own personal style and tastes, parents worry how uniforms might affect their kids’ emotional development.
School uniforms are also an expense that can add up quickly for parents who might not be able to afford them. The service clothing manufacturing industry already has an average of $947 million annual revenue, and for families that cannot afford to spend extra money on school uniforms, the requirement may cause unnecessary distress. Unless schools can provide students with school uniforms, the restriction on clothing can create a financial barrier for families looking to enroll their child in certain schools.
The Jury’s Still Out
Today, we expect a lot from our young learners. In fact, many youngsters now attend academic preschools, where they can get a jumpstart on their education. Between 1990 and 2013, the percentage of three to five-year-olds attending preschool programs increased from 59% to 65%, and many parents see great education as the key to a great future.
And as long as parents and schools believe that uniforms will benefit their kids in some way, students will continue to wear them.
Overall, it’s hard to say for sure whether the benefits of school uniforms outweigh the negatives. For many families, the matter seems to boil down to personal preference; school uniforms are just another factor in choosing the right school for your child. While there is evidence to support both sides of this argument, the choice ultimately comes down to the parent to decide what is best for their child’s education. Would you send your child to a school that requires school uniforms?