Whether kids like it or not, wearing school uniforms in elementary and secondary school is a rite of passage. Twenty one states and the District of Columbia currently have formal policies on school uniforms with more than 50% of those being private schools and about 30% being public schools.
School uniforms may be loathed by students and loved by school administration officials, but the fact remains that there are both benefits and disadvantages to wearing school uniforms and implementing a school uniform policy.
- Uniformity: Embroidered uniforms can serve an important purpose in creating uniformity. By having a uniform policy, there’s less distinction between socioeconomic classes. This can eliminate barriers and prejudices associated with wealth and poverty.
- Cost effectiveness: Kids who are following the latest fashion trends often have no problem wearing items of clothing that can cost $50 or more. On the flip side, embroidered uniforms often cost much less. Families who may not want to or be able to afford expensive clothing, are usually able to afford polos, uniform pants, skirts and other items at affordable prices.
- Safety: Another advantage of embroidered uniforms is they help make schools safer. Since teachers and students are following a dress code, intruders can easily be identified. Should the situation call for it, being able to quickly identify people who aren’t welcome helps when it comes time to institute a lockdown or take other measures of safety.
- Better attendance: Believe it or not, having or not having access to material goods can have lasting impacts on students emotionally and they may try anything to get out of having to go to school. Embroidered school uniforms help to reduce that emotional stress, which often leads to increased school attendance.
- Less peer pressure: Embroidered uniforms make it so that every student of every background has to wear the same thing. As a result, there’s less peer-pressure to keep up with fashion trends or to wear clothing just to be considered part of the “in-crowd.” A decrease in peer pressure can help foster genuine friendships and school relationships with no worries of having to be popular or not.
- Less individuality: A strict school uniform policy can be a hindrance to students who like to express themselves through fashion. While embroidered uniforms can help foster an atmosphere of discipline and order, they may also give off the impression that following a group and thinking like others think is more important than thinking for yourself.
- Not fool-proof: For as long as there have been rules and policies in places, there have been people trying to break rules or find ways around them. The same thing can happen when it comes to school uniforms, whether students wear clothing that tows the line or does something else with their style or uniform that still gives them a chance to be an individual.
- Expenses: While it is true that school uniform clothing can be cheaper in some instances, in others it can be a costly expense, especially if a family is buying clothing for multiple kids. The same thing can be true if families want to buy brand new items rather than those from discount or thrift stores. They may find that items like a custom polo shirt are too costly.
- Reinforcing stereotypes: While crisp new embroidered uniforms can look great on students, there might be some families who can’t afford them. As a result, some schools may react by punishing students who don’t conform to the dress code. The need to keep order is understandable, but doing this can also reinforce stereotypes of poverty and wealth and can also create peer-pressure that uniforms are supposed to eliminate.
- Less diversity: Many schools, both public and private, like to celebrate their diversity and trumpet how their student bodies are a melting pot of students from different backgrounds and cultures. Celebrating that diversity is a welcome thing in most schools, but uniforms for school and a dress code can mute that diversity somewhat by having every student dress the same.
There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to school uniforms and school officials should take time to carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether or not to implement a dress code.