School Uniforms Have Become an Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

If school uniforms are implemented, universally the culture of the school becomes visibly white washed and some would argue that such a change does not prepare students for "real" life nor stress the value of individuality in such a way that students feel or respond to real social situations they may face as adults that include diverse appearances. Many also argue that though some students may benefit from structures that include strict adherence to school uniform policies, such as problem students who lack discipline in other areas of their life or are prone to violent actions such solutions are a small part of the total package needed in these cases and real mutual earned respect between students, teacher and peers is the real challenge for any student or school culture as such is the basis for curtailed behavior and responsible behaviors, as apposed to everything from mild verbal inappropriateness to violent actions against others. (Reyes, 2001, p. 539) on the issue of gang affiliation the proponents of school uniforms attest to the idea that such uniforms would challenge the display and therefore recruitment and possibly behaviors of gangs in schools, yet they do not stress that where such issues are relevant anti-gang attire policies already exist and should be addressing the problem, in part. While opponents stress that much of the research conducted in schools where uniform policies are the rule is conducted in an age group were conformity, rather than individuality is the desire.

Those favoring uniforms... see them as a way to get around the problems posed by students' wearing gang attire; they also see uniforms as a way to blur the economic distinctions among students. They even see uniforms as a way to promote a more serious and scholarly academic environment in the schools...To begin with, the programs that have gained parental support, media attention, and, as a result, political endorsements are mostly in elementary schools, where the age of the children means that the problems the uniforms will allegedly solve don't exist to any significant degree. At the same time, elementary school children are not as concerned with individuality and personal rights as high schoolers are, and so they do not view required uniforms as intrusive or objectionable. In those schools in which the style and color of clothing are legitimate issues that affect the safety of students, codes that prohibit the wearing of gang attire and regalia should already be in place. Thus the need to adopt a school uniform policy to solve that particular problem is overstated or irrelevant. It will be interesting to see how the courts will handle the inevitable challenges to mandated school uniforms, since there is a significant difference between a public school's prohibiting specific attire because of legitimate concerns for student safety and a public school's requiring uniform dress...Where gangs are concerned, the wearing of school uniforms will be cosmetic at best and will not change the gang mentality or reduce the potential of antisocial, gang-related behavior, either on campus or off. Ironically, mandating the wearing of school uniforms might even make it easier to be a gang member since school administrators could no longer readily recognize the trappings of the gangs. (Evans, 1996, p. 139)

Challenges to school uniform policies are lessening every day as many continue to allow the adoption of a seemingly pro-active approach to school change, and a visible one at that, over concrete responses to social and behavioral challenges in schools. (Wilkins, 1999, p. 19) Relaxing the social distinctions between authority and student might actually aide the development of appropriate productive adults, which many would argue is one of the main goals of schools. Fostering community does not always have to be inclusive of mass conformity, as more enduring social science stresses that the development of individuality in a culturally and socially diverse environment and the stressing of mutual respect is reflective of real change, rather than superficial change. One of the most enduring cons of the school uniform policy is that unlike the intentions of the programs and well intended parents who support them believe the standards polcies actually open up many issues of social disparity and conflict between students, parents and faculty that might not have existed prior to implementation, and do not foster independence or individuality. The debates can be destructive to student relationships with authority and can foster an us against them mentality that increased rather than reduces the opaque nature of student communications with those who are charged with supporting and protecting them. (Hoge, Foster, Nickell & Field, 2002, p. 284) (Zirkel, 1998, p. 550)

Research regarding the effectiveness of school uniform implementation remains inconclusive. Supported by studies which indicate that school uniforms have little influence in reducing delinquency or gang activity, parents of a few students in districts with mandatory school uniform dress codes have challenged such policies in court (ETS, 1998). Schools which have adopted policies with the stated purpose of improving the quality of education have thus far prevailed as courts are apparently willing to permit at-risk schools, like Traner, to pilot programs aimed at providing a "safe and disciplined learning environment" (Canady v. Bossier, 2001). (Daugherty, 2002, p. 390)

The challenges to school uniform polcies will likely continue, concurrently with those that stress the visible and easy change as positive and then assist in implementation. Interestingly enough the research regarding the effectiveness of school uniform policies does not support fundamental changes, nor does it support the Dewey ideal of social diversity exposure that is essential to a school environment.


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