The Pros of School Uniforms (and Cons?)

I have to admit up front that I am completely biased towards all the pros of school uniforms. While I understand the views of those who express dislike for school uniforms, both as a school administrator and as a parent, it’s hard for me to concede my stance because the pros seem to heavily outweigh the cons.

1. Uniformity – Uniforms provide exactly that. Uniformity. In schools there are great benefits from being uniform. For athletic (or mathletic) teams, uniforms signify uniformity, a sense that the team is the sum of the individual parts, pride, identity, and a clear visual distinction and reminder that they belong together. Students wearing uniforms can elicit many of the same effects and outcomes.

2. Easy identification of students in an emergency — When students are all wearing uniforms, it’s easy to quickly locate someone who doesn’t belong. (Conversely, some argue that uniforms also make it difficult to identify individual students if everyone wearing same thing so in this case the pro and the con is a draw.)

3. Ease for students and parents — If the school requires a uniform, there isn’t much room for students and parents to argue about what is and isn’t appropriate to wear to school.

4. Focus on things that are not things — Materialism has been alive and well ever since the beginning of time and it’s no different in schools. If students are all required to wear the same attire, with some schools going so far as requiring the same shoes and socks, there is a lot less attention paid to clothing and hopefully more attention given to learning.

5. Cost efficient — Some parents and others I have spoken with state that uniforms are costly. However, I would argue the contrary. Uniforms can be costly up front, but it is not an ongoing expense. A parent would need to purchase uniforms at the start of the year to ensure their child has enough clothing to wear to school. This purchase is no different from back to school clothing that many parents already purchase for their children. Thus, if they purchase the uniforms instead of back to school clothing, the cost could be around the same. Some schools also have a trade-in system where parents can bring in gently used uniform clothing to exchange with other families, which may help to defray the cost.

6. Fewer issues dealing with dress code violations – Having been an assistant principal at the middle school level for a number of years, one of the most common reasons students were sent to the office was for a dress code violation. Frankly, I have yet to see a truly effective dress code policy. It wasn’t (and isn’t) uncommon for kids to pack different clothing in their bag then change at school. Therefore, a uniform could help alleviate some of the issues with inappropriate clothing. If students spend less time in the administrator’s office, that means they are spending more time in the classroom.

Uniforms do not completely necessarily rid a school of inappropriate wear –ie. students can wear a uniform shirt that is too fitted or a skirt that is too short. In my opinion, the bottom line with regards to this is if it’s a distraction, then it’s inappropriate and the judgement call belongs with the administration and teachers.

Uniforms just like a dress code only work if it’s well enforced, consistently with students/parents having a clear understanding and agreement to it (and consequences for not adhering to it) beforehand.

What are your thoughts on uniforms? Would it prevent you from sending your child to a particular school? As always thank you for reading!