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The pros and cons of school uniforms

Real moms talk

School uniforms: Whether you're for them or against them, this hot debate refuses to go away.

Real moms talk

Arguments in favor of children wearing uniforms:

  • Students experience less pressure in deciding what to wear each morning.
  • Uniforms cost less overall.
  • Student attendance improves.
  • Encourages discipline.
  • Students takes less time to get ready in the morning.
  • Children are free to concentrate on lessons.
  • Uniformity promotes a reduction of violence in schools.
  • A decrease in peer pressure to wear trendier brands.
  • Uniforms can be reused and recycled.
  • School intruders are more easily identified in a school of uniformed children.

Former President Clinton is perhaps the most famous and influential advocate of school uniform. In a March 1996 speech he said:

"If it means that the schoolrooms will be more orderly and more disciplined, and that our young people will learn to evaluate themselves by what they are on the inside instead of what they're wearing on the outside, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear uniforms."

As in every debate, there are two sides to the argument. Here's what those who are against uniforms say.

  • Uniforms detract from a child's individuality.
  • Students will always find ways to express themselves, leading to less desirable forms of expression such as tattooing and piercing.
  • Schools should be a place where diversity is celebrated.
  • The cost of uniforms is prohibitive, especially when a family includes more than one school-aged child.
  • An unfair additional cost to tax-payers sending their children to a public school.
  • A financial burden to lower income families.
  • A child in a uniform may be the target of bullies from a different school.
  • Uniforms may lessen the child's comfort level while attending school.
  • Enforcing rules about uniforms is difficult.
Current 2013 uniform stats: 
  • 23% of schools across the United States require a uniform.
  • The leader of the school uniform pack, 95% of public schools in New Orleans require a uniform.
  • The average cost to clothe an individual child in a uniform is $249 per school year.
  • School uniforms make up 1 billion in back-to-school sales.

Now that we have heard the arguments on both sides, what do moms really think about this debate? SheKnows interviewed three moms on opposite sides of the debate. Here's what they said:

Toinette Campbell, mom of two boys from Burbank, California: "Uniforms? I love them. The key word being uniform. It gives kids a level playing field and gets them away from one-upmanship on designer labels. It also gets kids used to taking care of their clothes. Getting rid of status symbols prevents children from being teased because they aren't wearing $150 jeans."

Carol O'Neil, mother of two boys from East Kilbride, Scotland: " I am totally for school uniforms as they keep children dressed the same and stop all of the nonsense with kids wearing designer gear. If kids are dressed the same, then they are less likely to be bullied." (In the UK, uniforms are compulsory in both state and private schools.)

Eduarda Schroeder, mom of two daughters from Chandler, Arizona: "Uniforms can be a financial burden for poor families because they are an additional expense for parents who pay taxes for a free public education. I am more in favor of a dress code."

As time continues on, it looks as if the line still stays down the middle in regard to school uniforms. However, while moms may have varying opinions on the issue, 95% of teachers believe that school uniforms promote a positive learning environment and improved behavior in students.

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