School Uniforms Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

School uniforms for students are becoming more and more popular across the country. Research suggest that schools with a mandatory school-wide uniform policy have better attendance, better behavior, fewer discipline referrals, and more school spirit. Children seem to become more focused on academics. They are also easily identified on campus, in the community, and on field trips, making general safety another benefit of wearing uniforms.

It is hypothesized that behavior in schools which require their students to wear uniforms will be better than those schools which do not with respect to discipline and behavior.

This study will use existing empirical research. The independent variable is wearing school uniforms. There are two levels of independent variables, with school uniforms and without school uniforms. The dependent variable is student behavior. Existing empirical research will provide proof that wearing school uniforms has a positive effect on student behavior.

Mandated Uniforms in School: A Benefit for Students and Educators Alike

The scenarios are endless. A young boy was left dead in the street after his Air Jordans and Raiders jacket are stolen from his body (Jones, 2000). In another city, children playing on a school playground run for cover as a stranger shoots bullets towards them. At another schoolyard, a fight breaks out between two opposing gangs who can be identified by the colors they are wearing. More and more cases of youth-related crimes are reported each year (McWhirter, McWhirter, and McWhirter, l998). In response to increasing youth crime regarding clothing, many communities choose to incorporate uniforms as part of a general safety program.

While educators and parents have long assumed the many benefits inherent in school uniforms, there is actually little empirical data supporting this ideology (DSN, 2004). However, new research shows that uniforms not only keep children looking neat and presentable, but they also carry a positive impact in numerous other areas.

Uniforms are usually part of comprehensive educational reform programs instituted across the United States, which are prompted by stricter regulations, including the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (DSN, 2004). These new requirements demand that school districts increase average achievement levels on an annual basis. The new research shows that uniforms are a key component of these programs.

In a 2004 study, three public school districts in divergent regions were examined. These were Denver, Baltimore and Aldine, Texas, a suburb of Houston (DSN, 2004). Researchers used four criteria to determine whether or not there had been improvements in a particular district: a "coherent school reform strategy that includes school uniforms"; geographic diversity; accessibility to administrators and school staff; and the successful implementation of a school uniform policy.

An independent research firm headed by consultant Dr. Scott Joftus, conducted the study. "All of the schools we studied indicated a vast preference for school uniforms, based on the improved levels of performance and academic achievement," Joftus said (DSN, 2004). "They were 'uniformly' in favor of their decision to implement them and consider them a key part of their educational reform programs."

While previous studies supported the idea that school uniforms hold a wide range of consumer benefits, the last major studies conducted by firms, including the NPD Group, date back two years or more (DSN, 2004). A 1996 study by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that after Long Beach, Calif., adopted uniforms -- one of the first districts to do so -- elementary and middle school crime decreased by 36%, weapons offenses decreased 50%, assault and battery dropped 34%, and vandalism fell 19%.

The new research shows that these positive findings remain consistent across numerous school districts in the country, demonstrating that uniforms work in various climates (DSN, 2004). "This study offers additional evidence that school uniforms can be a very effective element of school reform policies," said Dr. Carl Cohn, former superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District, which was the first school district to require uniforms in grade school. "School uniform policies bring a sense of order and discipline to the classroom environment and help students focus on why they're there: to learn."

When analyzing the issue of increasing juvenile crime, many research questions arise. What role do school uniforms play in providing a safer environment for students (Jones, 2000)? Are parents supportive of uniforms? How does the public feel about uniforms? How can uniforms benefit both students and educators? What can one learn from schools that have successfully implemented uniform policies?

This paper aims to discuss uniform-related issues (Jones, 2000). It will incorporate a rationale for uniform wearing, legal implications of uniform policies; and the opinions of parents, students, educators, and those opposing uniform policy adoption. In conclusion, recommendations on successfully implementing uniforms will be provided.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

A nationwide school epidemic is being highly publicized across the United States, as school violence, truancy, vandalism, theft, drugs and weapons have become more and more prevalent over the past few years (Vanderklis, 1999). These increases have placed pressure on schools and policymakers to act quickly, before the situation gets out of control (Pate, 1999).

These issues, as well as a desire to minimize socioeconomic tensions between the wealthy and the poor, have caused some schools to adopt more stringent dress codes or to require students to wear school uniforms (Vanderklis, 1999). The requirement of uniforms appears to offer a visible means of restoring order to classrooms -- -a quick and ready solution to the problem of public schools, which are rapidly declining.

According to the U.S. Department of Education's Manual on School Uniforms (1996): "Uniforms by themselves cannot solve all of the problems of school discipline, but they can be one positive contributing factor to discipline and safety."

Long Beach, California drew national attention as the first public-school district to adopt mandatory school uniforms (Lumsden, 2001). One year later, dramatic decreases in violence and discipline problems, in addition to higher test scores, were reported (Vanderklis, 1999). Since the mandatory uniform policy was launched in 56 elementary and 14 middle schools in 1994, assault and battery cases in grade school dropped by 34%. Sex offenses dropped 74%, weapons offenses decreased 50%, and vandalism decreased 18%. Physical fights between students decreased by 51%, and there were 32% fewer suspensions. An overall school-crime decrease of 36% was reported.

Starting in 1998, students at John Adams and Truman Middle Schools in Albuquerque were issued mandatory uniforms (Vanderklis, 1999). Less than six months later, both schools experienced a significant improvement in student conduct from the previous year. At John Adams Middle School, discipline referrals fell from 1,565 during the first semester of the previous year to 405. At Truman, referrals dropped from 1,139 to 850.

Isaacson (1998) compared two middle schools in Charleston County, S.C (Vanderklis, 1999). One school had a mandatory uniform policy, while the other did not. A survey of more than 300 sixth to eighth graders said that uniformed students expressed pride and earned higher scores in performance tests. Discipline referrals from the uniformed schools were down 51% from the previous year without uniforms. The middle school without a uniform requirement had more discipline referrals, less school pride, and lost 13 students who decided to attend the out-of-district school that had a uniform policy in place.

In another study, Caruso (1996) and Padgett (1998)discovered that about half of Chicago's 553 public schools, which have a total enrollment of 410,000 students, already required uniforms and many had reported decreases in school violence as a result (Vanderklis, 1999).

More and more schools are following the Long Beach example to mandate school uniforms (Dowling-Sendor, 2002). The White House Manual on School Uniforms suggested that several schools with mandatory uniform policies have shown subsequent decreases in school violence and truancy and increases in positive student behavior (California School News, 1997).

One of the main research questions associated with this paper is whether school uniforms can resolve the problem of school violence (Vanderklis, 1999). It is not likely that they can single-handedly correct this problem. However, it appears that they will certainly help. School uniforms do not represent a universal remedy for all society's problems. The main purpose of a uniform is to set forth and encourage a common commitment, a common resolve that inspires the individual to act as a member of a group. For this reason, uniforms are used in the military, in restaurants, and in sports.

Brown (1998) said that after 35 years in the public schools, he did not believe that uniforms would affect behavior, but they do (Vanderklis, 1999). His children are behaving so much better. He had to see it to believe it.

METHODOLOGY

A. Sampling

This study will use convenience sample. It will involve data from students surveyed in 12 research studies. Students from grades K-12 will be considered.

B. Measures

This paper will use results of various studies to measure the impact of wearing school uniforms on student behavior, school violence and school pride.

C. Design

Youth violence is getting worse and worse (Jones, 2000). In schools across the United States, students are carrying more guns,…

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