Monday, April 28, 2008

We Must Mandate School Uniforms in the Public School System

The children of this generation are getting out of control. They have lost respect and willing to challenge any form of authority. If parents are unable to establish the basic fundamentals of parenting, then it should be the responsibility of the school system to instil the values that make this country great. It would seem appropriate that the school should get involved since a good portion of a student week is in school.

This may be seen to some that my thinking bends to a dictatorial or totalitarian regime, but this particular issue demands an unorthodox method to force change a dilemma that seems to have no solutions. That is why I support public school uniforms to upstart a new way of disciplining children to conform to uniformity and standardization.

I had the opportunity to go to a public elementary school from K to 8th grade and a private Parochial highschool. The difference is like night and day. I remember I was an unruly child during my elementary school years, but when I attended a Catholic high school that was taught by religious brothers and nuns, I was transformed into a well rounded, disciplined young adult. I had to conclude that wearing uniforms and being taught a conservative value system was the essence of going to a private institution.

The most obvious observation one notices a student from a public or private school is that in a private school, students wear a uniform. If the success of these private institutions that instil uniformity in uniforms, then there shouldn't be a reason why the public school system couldn't adopt the same theory. Did you know that as many as 30% of the nation’s pubic elementary, middle, and high schools have successfully implemented a school uniform policy? The success seen in these public schools imposing a uniform system is dramatically positive. Just recently in Florida, the county of Osceola has imposed school uniform for the 2008-2009 academic year. There are more and more counties getting on the bandwagon because they see a positive outcome when student uniforms are implemented.

I hear all the time that wearing a uniform does not increase the level of education. That may be true, but to remove the individuality that student’s wear will remove the stigma that education is the reason why they go to school and not model what they are wearing. If they want to socialize their latest fashion, they can go to the mall after classes. I find that school uniforms greatly benefit both the students and faculty by creating an atmosphere in which the students are able to get the most out of their education.

One of the major benefits of school uniforms is their ability to make schools safer. There are studies showing that school uniforms will reduce gang violence. Since many gang members are associated by a particular article of clothing, accessories, and particular colors, by wearing a standard color in representing the school will diminish any violent tendencies. It has been documented that uniforms will also make it easier for trespassers to be identified. These individuals will definitely stand out from the crowd because they will not have on a uniform like everyone else. It is a main concern with every parent to ensure that their child is safe and secured in the hands of the school system. It has been very difficult during recent years with the killings we have seen on television that has occurred in our school system. With many school shootings, identification using school uniforms would dramatically decrease its incidences.

Another benefit with school uniforms is to help eliminate socio-economical barriers. Many students come from diverse backgrounds. Whether a student comes from a poor or an affluent family, inside the walls of the school, every student wearing a standard uniform will be the same and such economic advantages and disadvantages are now a mute issue. Parents’ incomes no longer determine how well his or her son or daughter dresses at school. Uniforms help to erase the cultural and economic tension that may have affected among the students. Parents are no longer pressured to buy the latest fashions; therefore, they spend less money on clothes and fashionable apparel. With a pair of a jean that may run up to $80.00 a pair, one can purchase a couple trousers and still have enough left to put gas in the car.

I feel school uniforms help to promote structure and discipline inside of the classroom. This structure creates a strong learning environment and improves the students’ behavior and attitude toward schooling. There are several studies showing that student academic achievement was increased dramatically because of the learning atmosphere created by uniforms. It removed the stigma of what is on the students body and more attuned to concentrate on their schoolwork and strive for great grades.

To those who contemplate bringing a law suit against forcing uniforms to be worn in the public school system and the idea that it violates their constitutional rights, it has been done and such case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that in public schools, which are run by the government, students are not to “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” It said that schools could only limit students’ freedom of expression if their writings or behaviors were disruptive to the functioning of school or if it invades the rights of others. It is evident that in many schools across the nation the types of clothes that kids wear to school are disruptive to the functioning of school. Therefore, the schools are not infringing on the Fourteenth Amendment, and do have the right to implement their own policy as long as it is in reason.

In conclusion, we should have school uniforms because they help to make school a better place. Uniforms help to eliminate socio-economical barriers, help to reduce violence in the schools, and help raise students’ confidence in achieving academic excellence. We have seen in recent months some of the atrocities committed by students as early as 2nd grade. We have seen 3rd graders from ages 10 to 12 tried to murder their teacher. And last week, there was south Floridian 2nd grader, who is a member of a gang in school, stealing his grandmother’s car and caused major havoc in his community. When will this ever end? Since the parents have lost their responsibility in raising their children, the next best place to instil moral values is either in the private or public school system. I want to see basic fundamental instill in our children while they are in elementary, middle, and high school before entering college. We need to give our children an opportunity to succeed in life and not let it end before it has begun.