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School Uniforms by Matt Radtke and Matt Gould

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  • 1. SCHOOL UNIFORMS: A 20 YEAR DEBATE Matt Radtke and Matt Gould George Washington University Education 246
  • 2. Agenda
    • Introduction
    • Timeline
    • First Perspective
    • Second Perspective
    • References
  • 3. Timeline 1987 1994 1996 1999 Cherry Hill Elementary School (MD) is first public school to implement student uniform policy President Clinton’s State of the Union address encouraging the use of school uniforms to increase achievement (see Clinton in his own words) Long Beach Unified School District (CA) creates first district wide mandatory uniform policy in public schools 12% of public schools have a student uniform policy 2006 55% of public schools have a student uniform policy
  • 4. Support for School Uniforms
    • “ A safe and disciplined learning environment is the first requirement of a good school. Young people who are safe and secure, who learn basic American values and the essentials of good citizenship, are better students. In response to growing levels of violence in our schools, many parents, teachers, and school officials have come to see school uniforms as one positive and creative way to reduce discipline problems and increase school safety….the adoption of school uniform policies can promote school safety, improve discipline, and enhance the learning environment.”
    Manual on School Uniforms The U.S. Department of Education
  • 5. Support for School Uniforms
  • 6. AK & HI not to scale TX AR AZ CT CO CA DE, MD,D.C FL IA KS IN IL MN MA LA MO NV NJ NH NC OH OR PA OK TN UT VA WA States with Uniforms or Dress Codes 0 0 500 Miles 500 KM
  • 7. Support for school uniforms – cont’d
    • The potential benefits of school uniforms include:
      • Decreasing violence and theft among students over designer clothing or expensive sneakers
      • Helping prevent gang members from wearing gang colors and insignia at school
      • Instilling students with discipline
      • Helping parents and students resist peer pressure
      • Helping students concentrate on their school work
      • Helping school officials recognize intruders who come to school
    Manual on School Uniforms (U.S. Department of Education, 1996)
  • 8. Long Beach (California) Unified School District
    • Long Beach Unified School District was the first large urban school district to require school uniforms for all students in grades kindergarten-8 th , totaling over 60,000 students:
    • Fewer than 500 parents (less than 1% of all parents) requested exemption in first year, and less than 400 in the second year.
    • Results after the first year of implementing uniforms:
      • Overall school crime decreased by 36%
      • Sex offenses decreased by 74%
      • Physical fights between students decreased by 51%
      • Weapons offenses decreased by 50%
      • Assault and battery offenses decreased by 34%
      • School suspensions decreased by 32%
      • Vandalism decreased by 18%
    (King, 1998)
  • 9. Support for school uniforms – cont’d
    • John Adams Middle School (Albuquerque, NM) 1400+ students
    • Polk County School District (Florida) 87,170 students
      • The number of students who earned honor roll increased by 13% within the first year and by 9% in the second year. (John Adams Middle School)
      • Discipline referrals decreased from 1,565 to 405 within first year. (John Adams Middle School)
      • Reading scores improved and promotions to next grade level showed significant gains (Polk County)
      • Significant decrease in the number of suspensions and juvenile referrals. (Polk County)
    (Elder, 1999) (Pate, 1999)
  • 10. Opposition to student uniforms
    • The school uniform movement in public schools is relatively new. There is little data that supports the oft cited benefits of school uniforms such as:
      • Student uniforms decrease substance abuse
      • Student uniforms decrease behavioral problems
      • Student uniforms increase attendance
      • Student uniforms increase academic achievement
    In studies researching the effectiveness of school uniforms against these claims, the findings actually hold the opposite to be true (Brunsma & Rockquemore, 1998)
  • 11. Opposition to student uniforms – cont’d
    • Analysis of the data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) found that there was no correlation between student uniforms and academic achievement, nor was there any correlation to absenteeism, behavior, or substance use.
    • Catholic schools make up 65.4% of all schools with student uniform policies.
      • Would you believe, Catholic schools with uniform policies actually had higher rates of absenteeism and lower academic achievement than their peers in non-uniformed schools?!
    • In another study analyzing data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten Level (ECLS-K), there was no evidence that linked student uniform policies to increased academic achievement.
    (Brunsma & Rockquemore, 1998) (Yeung, 2003)
  • 12. Opposition to student uniforms – cont’d Opponents of school uniform policies in public schools find that uniform policies themselves may run up against the law. Courts of all levels are riddled with cases that question the constitutionality of student uniform policies in public schools. Their main argument is that school uniform policies infringe on First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Opponents believe student uniforms suppress student individuality and personal freedom. They argue that students could become alienated if school officials close off one of their few avenues of self-identification and expression. They also question whether restrictive dress codes really make schools safer. Many parents argue that these restrictive policies also infringe on the parents’ freedom in rearing their children. (Mitchell & Knechtle, 2003)
  • 13. Opposition to student uniforms – cont’d Even in satire, the claims of school uniform proponents just don’t add up….(push play and turn up the volume, especially if you enjoy Pink Floyd).
  • 14. Resources
    • Brunsma, D.L. & Rockquemore, K.A., (1998). Effects of student uniforms on attendance, behavior problems, substance use, and academic achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 92 , 53-62. Retrieved from the JSTOR database.
    • Elder, Deborah L. (1999). Evaluation of School Uniform Policy at John Adams and Truman Middle Schools for Albuquerque Public Schools . The Department of Research, Development and Accountability. Albuquerque Public Schools.
    • King, K. (1998). Should school uniforms be mandated in elementary schools? Journal of School Health , 68, 32-38.
    • Manual on School Uniforms , Memorandum for the Secretary of Education, February 23, 1996
    • Mitchell, H.W., & Knechtle, J.C., (2003). Uniforms in public schools: A constitutional analysis. The Journal of Negro Education, 72 , 487-494. Retrieved from the JSTOR database.
    • Pate, S. (1999). The influence of a mandatory school uniform policy . Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Career and Technical Education, Orlando, FL
    • Yeung, R., (2009). Are school uniforms a good fit?: Results from the ECLS-K and the NELS. Education Policy, 23, 847-874. doi:101177/0895904808330170

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