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A Comparison and Contrast Essay: School Uniforms versus No School Uniforms

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A Comparison and Contrast Essay: School Uniforms versus No School Uniforms

Some debate has taken place over recent decades concerning whether public

schools should incorporate uniforms into their dress code. Many elementary schools do

this now, especially in poor inner city districts. Sometimes the adoption of a dress code is

seen in middle schools as well. However, the adoption of a dress code at the high school

level is much rarer. Possibly for that reason, little empirical evidence is available on the

benefits of implementing a uniform in schools (Adams, 2006). When considering

whether to adopt a school uniform, several factors need to be taken into consideration.

First, if debating whether to require uniforms in a high school, consider if wearing

uniforms will be a new concept for that student body. If these students have had to wear

uniforms in elementary and middle school, then requiring first year high school students

to continue doing so will not be as controversial as it might if the requirement was

completely novel to the students. From there, students would continue to wear school

uniforms each year until they graduated (Walmsley, 2011). In contrast, if high school

students have not been required to wear uniforms during the earlier years in school, they

may strongly protest. The easiest way to begin a program requiring school uniforms is to

start in elementary school and let the students continue each year from there.

A second point to consider in comparing or contrasting the use of school uniforms

is cost. Often, the thought of dress codes evoke visions of school jackets with

emblazoned insignia, button-down Oxford shirts, ties, slacks, and skirts. Parents become

concerned about cost. However, a school uniform can simply mean uniformity of dress.

For boys, this can mean dark or kaki colored slacks and polo-styled shirts in basic colors

of navy blue and white. For girls, it might also mean polo-styled shirts and slacks or

skirts in designated colors. These items can be found in various department stores at

various prices (Alleyne, LaPoint, Lee, & Mitchell, 2003; Walmsley, 2011). In contrast,

what one thinks of as regular school clothing can be as expensive or as inexpensive as a

uniformed style of clothing; any article of clothing can be bought in different levels of

quality, at different prices, in different stores.

Some who are proponents of having a school uniform or uniformed style of dress

note that school administrators spend considerable energy on discipline each day focused

on student violation of dress code (Walmsley, 2011). Requiring boys to wear properly

fitted slacks, polo-styled shirts, belts, and standard shoes would address the wearing of

inappropriate printed t-shirts and poorly fitted pants, for example. Having girls to wear

slacks or skirts, standard shoes, and polo-styled shirts would address most concerns about

clothing that reveals too much. Length of skirts could continue being an issue, though.

Another point to compare or contrast in utilizing a school uniform has to do with

school safety. Some argue that tress-passers on school property can be more easily

identified if students are wearing clothing that is uniform in style and color (Alleyne et

al., 2003). This may be a valid point. Schools have had intruders to come onto campuses.

This is a complex issue, but utilization of a school uniform might help.

Of course, students and parents are sometimes concerned with issues of

individuality and self-expression. However, most people conform to expected standards

for work, attending court, church, and a number of other activities. Self-expression is not

more limited in school than elsewhere. In all, more research needs to be conducted to

determine if having a school dress code has possible benefits for a school.



Adams, A. T. 2006.

Uniforms in public schools: A decade of research and debate.

Contemporary Sociology


35(6), 634-6.

Alleyne, S. I., LaPoint, V., Lee, J., & Mitchell, H. W. 2003,

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