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... use children never build self esteem from being forced to compete with their wardrobe or being ridiculed for their lack of wardrobe. Children build self-esteem through positive encouragement about their accomplishments and their hard work. The uniform only levels the field of competition so that ALL children are created equal and provided with equal opportunity to excel in academics. The uniform instills a calming effect among children because competition for popularity from in-clothes is eliminated. The labels are dropped and children can focus on what school is all about - learning. Learning: About the world and its diversity, its politics, its complexities; about science and its mysteries, its attributes, its accomplishments; about reading and its vast treasures; about arts and its beauty, its range of styles, its complexities; about math and its wonders, its riches; and about history and its fascinating people, its wondrous places; and about all the other glorious subjects the academic world offers.
In Andrea Atkins article 'Dressed to Learn', a middle school principal, Pamela Hoffler Riddick, agrees that uniforms are not the end-all of solutions to education environment problems and she states that 'when everyone is dressed the same way, distinctions are not as easily made between the haves and the have-nots. This helps put students on a more even playing field. The focus is moved from the neck down to the neck up... The kids see themselves in an image reflecting success. Now we can focus on learning' (Atkins and Scholsberg 42). What a wonderful class room where everyone is equal in their fashion style thus equal in opportunity, creating a cohesive unit. Those opposed to uniforms can't argue that a cohesive unit is one that works and plays together in positive surroundings.
Uniforms help to bridge the differences and develop a sense of team spirit among the student body similar to any sporting team, choir, police force, or fire fighters. These units of people working and playing together wear the same outfit and most would agree they look appropriate and clean, together and cohesive. Could you imagine watching a baseball game where every player wore his favorite cords and tee-shirt? One would never know which player was on which team, and after the game you'd try to get an autograph or picture of Barry Bonds, but never find him in the mixed cord-confusion. The members of these units feel as if they're part of a team and they show unity and togetherness, an all-for-one-one-for-all spirit. As Andrea Atkins remarks in article, ' there are dress codes for just about anything in the working world - even if it's McDonald's ... I don;t see anything wrong with kids learnming that you dress a certain way at a certian time'(44). The children are all part of a team and their team spirit and enthusiasm soars when they look like part of a team; and that spirit and enthusiasm are catching, spreading to improved grades and happy parents.
Although the uniform policy can't scientifically prove that it works in changing students' education, I agree with Sylvan Alleyne, a Howard University Professor, who has researched the uniform policy effects, when she states, 'but it can't hurt' (Pushkar 12). Alleyne points out that, 'the argument against uniforms are that you lose your identity or your individuality, but I don't believe that ... the bright will shine anyhow, the athletes will shine anyhow. Individuality will come out' (Pushkar 12). Mandatory uniforms can only have a positive affect on students, because not only are the 'shiners' continuing to shine, but the shiners-in-the-rough are given equal chance to shine. True scientific research hasn't been done but the results of wearing a uniform has been tested.
Gail Mancini in her article 'School Uniforms: Dressing for Success or Conformity' confirms that, 'Dorothy Behling, retired from the Family and Consumer Sciences department ... has verified the mythical impact of uniforms on student behavior' (63). Tests were preformed and the reactions of people to various students in varying forms of dress, from casual to uniform, were recorded and 'teachers and students believe uniformed students are better behaved and more academically successful than students who do not wear uniforms. A halo effect may ensue in which everybody treats everybody better'(Mancini 63). People do judge others by their appearance, even children, uniforms will create a positive judgement. The proof that uniforms can, and do, work is in the close to 1100 school districts in 20 states that have adopted mandatory school uniform policies (Forest 40). Those schools with the uniform policy has shown dramatic increases in student achievements and according to Long Beach Unified School District spokesperson, Dick Van Der Laan, 'so much so that even violence-free schools are turning to uniforms.
For example, the K-8 Newcombe Academy, already a Distinguished School with high attendance and achievement, chose to require uniforms to further improve the educational environment' (Pushkar 12). I agree schools with a uniform-code policy do experience exemplified academic achievements; and I don't believe children's' individuality is quashed. Agreeing that individuality is not hampered is Dennis Doyle, founder of Doyle Associates, an educational consulting firm when he expresses that:How can imposing a uniform policy on school children be remotely equated with banning 'every form of individual expression'? ... The reason for introducing uniforms is not to impose conformity, but to inject a sense of purpose, and to devalue, at least for the school day, the idea that our material coverings are what makes us individuals in the first place. (Atkins and Scholsberg 44)School uniforms win again. The most positive evidence is that uniforms instill the value in the human being not the material possessions. A uniform policy works and should be mandatory in elementary schools.
Another positive effect of school uniforms is saving expenses on children's clothing and uniforms definitely are cheaper than many other brand-name clothes on the market today. Retailers are increasingly aware that schools are shifting the trends on them, by switching to mandatory school uniforms, and are following suit by creating affordable uniforms. The importance of the uniform is highlighted in the article, 'Dressed to Drill: School Uniforms are HOT - and Merchants Are Cashing In' by Stephanie Anderson Forest. Forest points out that many companies have analyzed the growing emphasis schools are taking on uniform policies and hence have incorporated uniform-style clothing into their regular back-to-school lines. Many stores including, 'J.C. Penney, Sears, Macys, Target, Walmart carry uniforms and catalogs, such as, Lands Ends, [J.C. Penney, and Spiegel] are joining the ranks by launching uniform lines' (40). This is a great step for retailers to take, in noticing the importance of uniforms in the educational environment, and following the lead of parents and schools. Emphasizing another reward reaped by requiring uniforms is the affordablity of the school uniform.
Further adding to the benefits of uniforms, for parents, is that retailers are helping reduce costs to parents by providing price-conscience school uniform options. For school uniforms to work, and we see they do, schools need a comprehensive plan that involves many aspects and should include:1) the parents, teachers, administration, and children;2) uniforms should be in a wide range of sizes, to accommodate ALL children comfortably;3) be affordable;4) mandatory, beginning at the lower grades and converting to upper grades, district wide;5) seasonal changes in the uniform to accommodate changes in the weather, for example, sweaters or sweatshirts, rain gear, to, shorts;6) trading or selling policy or even a school store run by the Booster/Parent Club, or school swap-meet-days, to help all children be able to purchase and/or sell uniforms.A comprehensive plan can make the transformation to a new uniform policy smooth. Implementing a Uniform Code Policy can be fun if all parties have an open mind, furthermore, kids feel empowered when involved in the modeling, and planning of the fashion-show display for choosing the desired uniform. The school uniform has advantages for parents, children, schools and even teachers, hence, everyone wins. The parent manual describing the perfect solution for 'School Clothes - What's Acceptable, What's Not' I'm sure has many philosophies listed from the one mentioned earlier, the ever so polite, obedient child; to my son, the negotiator; but, mostly the solution probably exists in a good school uniform code. Some of the worlds' best, most respected schools require a uniform and this uniform code certainly never hurt any of their graduates. The much respected and often emulated Japanese education system has uniforms for most of their schools, according to the Japanese Consulate Office in San Francisco (Japan Consulate). Uniforms haven't hurt their children's creativity or academic achievements.
The world of school uniforms has changed with the current trends, most don't require a tie and blazer anymore, accommodating most children, without hindering his creativity, at least not his creative intelligence, and offering school uniform code choices in a non-discriminatory fashion. Dr. Monroe, principal of Fredrick Douglass Academy in New York states, '... having uniforms seems to modify behavior... [and] that uniforms are a signifier and the signified is nothing less than responsibility, possibility, maturity, the future, and hope' (Pushkar 12). Evidence favors uniforms and Gail Hinchion Mancini quotes advocates accurately, '... it's about equity and high standards of academic achievement.
Students must be in an environment that is sensitive to their developmental needs; where they are treated fairly and with respect; where they receive age-appropriate, challenging instruction; and where they are held accountable for their dress, behavior and school work' (65). The parent manual would defiantly favor children in a school uniform. I support the school uniform code philosophy, because I favor a focus on academia, and a strong sense of school spirit and unity, a positive scholastic environment, building self-esteem from achievements, cost effective clothing budget, and, of course, a head-ache free morning. Works CitedAtkins, Andrea and Jeremy Scholsberg. 'Dressed to Learn.' Better Homes and Gardens. Aug.
1996:44+.Forest, Stephanie Anderson. 'Dressed to Drill: School Uniforms are HOT - And Merchants Are Cashing In.' Business Week. 8 Sep. 1997: 40.Gursky, Daniel. 'Uniforms Improvement.' Education Digest. 61.7 (Mar. 1996) : 46-48.Japanese Consulate of San Francisco. Personal Interview. 29 April 1998.Mancini, Gail Hinchion.
'School Uniforms: Dressing For Success or Conformity?' Education Digest. 63.4 (Dec. 1997) : 62-65.Pushkar, Katherine. 'Dressed For Success.' Village Voice. 40.,3 (17 Jan. 1995) : 12.'School Uniforms?! : New York.
January 26.' National Review. 26 Feb. 1996:71.Tachibana, Judy. 'School Clothes? All The Same To Some Uniform Policy Isn't Uniform In Region, But Trend Grows.' The Sacramento Bee. 21 Aug. 1996: B1+..
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