Better Education with School Uniforms
The use of uniforms in public schools is an interesting and controversial topic. It is believed that uniforms help decrease violence, maintain discipline in the schools, and enhance the student’s performance. I had the opportunity to talk with several teachers and hear their different points of view regarding the use of school uniforms; I also asked some parents for their point of view. The majority of parents and teachers agree that uniforms would greatly contribute to the solution.
Ana Linder, a teacher at the alternative school, “Skill Center” in Norfolk, has more than twenty students in her class. These students have all been expelled from their regular schools for discipline problems, including violence. One reason for the violence is clothing. Ana told me about one student who had been expelled from school because he had pushed another student down a flight of stairs to take a jacket that a student was wearing. Another student stole an expensive pair of tennis shoes because he had been joked about the cheep ones he was wearing and his mother, being a single parent, could not afford the expensive ones. Kids today are very fashion conscious and if they can’t afford the latest trends they try to get them by any means possible. Since fashion is so important to students, with the price tag being the major issue, the use of uniforms would eliminate peer pressure to conform thus eliminating the need for violence to obtain these expensive items.
Another Alternative school teacher, at The Center for Effective Learning in Virginia Beach, Becky Herron, stated that with younger middle school students, uniforms would definitely help with their behaviors. Students from eleven to fourteen care more about their looks than anything else; uniforms would help these children focus on academics and behavior would improve.
A couple of years ago, Ruffner Middle School in Norfolk became one of eight nationwide “model” schools by implementing mandatory use of uniforms. Susan Thomas, a 13 year old seventh grader said there have been fewer fights and students are concentrating more and their work since they started wearing uniforms. According to an article in the Virginian Pilot, the school tracked a 30 percent decline the first year in suspensions caused by disruptions, insubordination, disrespect, and fighting. This decrease in disciplinary problems has been directly attributed to the use of school uniforms.
The uniform has other positive advantages. When the student is not sitting in class dreaming about a trip to the mall to get latest hot outfit, or wondering what they will wear tomorrow, they can pay attention to the teacher. “It makes clothing non-issue, as far as being able to distinguish between the haves and have-nots,” said the principle at Ruffner Middle School. It eliminates the fashion competition allowing the student to concentrate on education. This was supported by statistics from Ruffner Middle School. In the first quarter after the students began wearing uniforms, the number of students on the honor roll increased by 20 percent.
I believe that uniforms should be mandatory in all public schools. Education must be the main focus of our schools and if students are focusing more on fashion and peer competition, education tends to get pushed to the side. Uniforms eliminate the distraction; they decrease the violence and discipline problems, which allow the student to focus, and the education aspect. Anything that will improve our student’s education is critical. Wearing school uniforms will create better schools for tomorrow.
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