Top Pro & Con Arguments
School uniforms keep students focused on their education, not their clothes.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals states, “When all students are wearing the same outfit, they are less concerned about how they look and how they fit in with their peers; thus, they can concentrate on their schoolwork.” And a study by the University of Houston found that elementary school girls’ language test scores increased by about three percentile points after uniforms were introduced.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advocates school uniforms as a way to help students focus on learning: “Take that [clothing choices] off the table and put the focus on school, not on what you’re wearing.” Chris Hammons, Principal of Woodland Middle School in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, explains that uniforms “provide for less distraction, less drama, and more of a focus on learning.”
Wearing uniforms also enhances school pride, unity, and community spirit, which can boost interest in education. A study of over 1,000 Texas middle school students found that students in uniform “reported significantly more positive perceptions of belonging in their school community than reported by students in the standard dress group.” Christopher P. Clouet, former Superintendent of the New London Public Schools in Connecticut, stated that “the wearing of uniforms contributes to school pride.” Arnold Goldstein, PhD, head of the Center for Research on Aggression at Syracuse University, points out that uniforms help troubled students feel they have the support of a community: “There is a sense of belonging.” Further, “teachers perceived an increase in the level of respect, caring, and trust… throughout the school” and “students are made to feel ‘important’ and as if they are a part of a team by wearing a uniform,” according to a peer-reviewed study.
Plus, school uniforms can improve attendance and discipline. A study by researchers at the University of Houston found that the average absence rate for girls in middle and high school decreased by 7% after the introduction of uniforms, and behavioral problems lessened in severity. School uniforms make getting ready for school easier, which can improve punctuality.
When uniforms are mandatory, parents and students do not spend time choosing appropriate outfits for the school day. According to a national survey, over 90% of US school leaders believe school uniform or formal dress code policies “eliminate wardrobe battles with kids,” make it “easier to get kids ready in the morning,” and create a “time saving in the morning.” Tracey Marinelli, Superintendent of the Lyndhurst School District in New Jersey, credits the district’s uniform policy for reducing the number of students running late. Lyndhurst student Mike Morreale agrees, stating that “it’s so much easier to dress than having to search for clothes and find out that something doesn’t match.” A Youngstown State University study of secondary schools in Ohio’s eight largest school districts found that school uniform policies improve rates of attendance, graduation, and suspension.
During the first semester of a mandatory uniform program at John Adams Middle School in Albuquerque, NM, discipline referrals dropped from 1,565 during the first semester of the year prior to 405, a 74% decrease. Macquarie University (Australia) researchers found that in schools across the world where uniform policies are enforced, students “are more disciplined” and “listen significantly better, there are lower noise levels, and lower teaching waiting times with classes starting on time.”
Wasted time in classrooms is reduced because uniform policies save valuable class time because they are easier to enforce than a standard dress code. Doris Jo Murphy, former Director of Field Experiences at the University of North Texas College of Education, states, “As an elementary assistant principal in two suburban districts, I can tell you that the dress code took up a great deal of my time in the area of discipline… I wished many times that we had uniforms because the issue of skirts or shorts being too short, and baggy jeans and pants on the boys not being pulled up as they needed to be, would have been a non-issue.” Lyndhurst, NJ school district superintendent Tracey Marinelli had a similar experience before a uniform policy was introduced: “Kids were spending time in the office because they were not fulfilling the dress code… That was time away from class.”Read More