Multiple Grammy Award winner Ne-Yo credits high school visual arts teacher Carol Treat with teaching him one of his most valuable lessons. “Ms. Treat always told us not to blend in, but blend out. In my business, that’s what leads to success.”

“I try to teach students how to absorb their world and represent their thoughts,” says Carol, “They always have to keep it real.”

Behind Every Famous Person is a Fabulous Teacher.

School Uniforms

What’s it all about?
What does it mean for you?
Arguments in Favor
Arguments Against
FYI: Further Reading

What’s it all about?

A school uniform is a required code of dress that all students must wear throughout the school day. School uniforms have been utilized in private schools for decades, but have since been implemented in some public schools as well. Dress codes are generally a code of dress that prohibits students from wearing certain articles of clothing, rather than mandating what articles of clothing they must wear.

What does it mean for you?

Currently, one in four public elementary schools and one in eight public middle and high schools have school uniform policies. (David L. Brunsma, Uniforms in Public Schools: A Decade of Research and Debate (2005))

Arguments in Favor:

  • School uniforms improve academic performance because they create an equal and orderly atmosphere. They reduce distractions imposed by clothing items.
  • School uniforms prevent the formation of cliques or gangs and reduce the influence of peer pressure, all based on the physical appearance of students.
  • School uniforms remove the socio-economic hierarchy among students that can be reflected in their choice of clothing; how much a garment cost or where it was bought.

Arguments Against:

  • School uniform policies infringe on parents’ and students’ rights to freedom of expression.
  • The cost of uniforms infringe on parents’ and students’ rights to a free public education.

FYI: Further Reading

  • The WISE (Working to Improve Schools and Education) website from Ithaca College has a listing of articles, books, and websites that are both in favor of and against school uniforms. Each link also has references to other websites and books, so this website is a good place to start researching the issues surrounding school uniforms.
  • International Debate Education Association: School Uniforms is an unbiased list of the arguments for and against school uniforms. This website is a good first-stop when attempting to develop an informed argument on the subject.
  • USA Today: Ironing Out Policies on School Uniforms (8/6/07) is an unbiased look at the opinion of parents on school uniforms across the country. According to the article, some parents are in favor of the policy, while some parents oppose the school boards’ choice to implement uniforms.
  • Education Bug: Public School Uniform Statistics has useful statistics on the use of school uniforms in public schools and does not have a bias in either direction.
  • Education Bug: Public School Uniform Debate is a useful summary of the major arguments, both pro and con, in the debate about school uniforms.
  • LoveToKnow Kids has a webpage where they examine both sides of the school uniform debate and break the arguments down into simpler categories such as academic outcomes and cost. They also include links to other sections of their website concerning school uniforms, including an interview with an education expert.
  • GreatSchools: Do Uniforms Make Schools Better? is a great overview of the school uniform discussion, including supporting research and a section on the difference between uniforms and dress codes.
  • Manual on School Uniforms is a publication from the U.S. Department of Education that gives the advantages of school uniforms and how they can be adopted in any public school. The most helpful information is their list of model school uniform policies from school districts across the country.
  • A study from the Journal of Education Research published in 1998 explores the effects of school uniforms on attendance, behavior problems, substance abuse, and academic achievement. The research did not reflect any improvement in these areas due to school uniforms.
  • Asserting Parental Rights – It’s Our Duty is a coalition of parents, working toward nonprofit status, that addresses the concerns of parental freedom with regard to school uniform policies. They are strongly opposed to school uniforms.
  • The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education looks at the school uniform debate from all sides, including its history and its relationship to dress codes. It is a comprehensive look into the arguments and the research surrounding school uniforms. The book can be previewed here.