It’s official — the largest school district in the U. Over a half-million elementary-school students in New York City will have to adhere to a dress code by the fall of 1999. It isn’t going to replace good teaching, good principals, why students should wear uniforms essay classrooms. It’s a fashion trend that’s spreading.
From Los Angeles to Louisiana, from Maryland to Miami, public schools are discussing, and in many cases adopting, the old private school idea. Maria, a ninth-grader who swims, plays soccer, and wears exactly what everybody else does at her high school in Washington, DC. After school and on weekends, of course, all bets are off. Maria has a simple yet effective strategy: she borrows her friends’ clothes, typically baggy jeans. No-nonsense uniforms are what many school are using as weapons in the war against gang-related violence and classroom distractions. That way, they do the shopping, and I get to wear them. President Clinton thinks they’re a good idea.
If it means that the school rooms 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. School uniforms also take the pressure off students to pay top dollar for clothes, according to Reginald Wilson, a senior scholar at the American Council on Education in Washington, D. Certainly the competition to wear the best shoes or the best sweaters and so forth has been prevalent in school ever since I was in school, and the poor kids felt inferior. Public school uniforms became popular 1994, when the Long Beach, California school district became the first to require uniforms. And it’s not always mandatory: some schools let students opt out for personal beliefs, and others say uniforms are totally voluntary.
One in four students will soon be wearing uniforms. Uniforms are most common in elementary, middle and junior high schools, according to the federal Department of Education. The Lands’ End clothing company, which just came out with a school uniform catalog this year, estimates that one in four public school students below high-school age will be in uniform in the 97-98 school year. Not everybody is welcoming the idea. The American Civil Liberties Union says there’s no link between school uniforms and safety or good grades.