Controversy Derives from Differences in Beliefs, Values, and Morals

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“Controversy derives from differences in beliefs, values, and morals. School uniforms have become a very controversial topic this day in age due to the new social climate centered around questioning powers that be. There are many pros and cons included in the discussion as a result of varying ethnic values. Although, according to “History of Uniforms” by Michelle Meleen, uniforms are said to have been around since the 16th century. Over the past few years concerns that individuality and equity doesn’t fit into the policy, have risen. Writer, Mark Oppenheimer, stated in The New Yorker that “In 1996, Clinton, running for reëlection and eager to shore up his conservative credentials, championed mandatory school uniforms as the kind of small-bore, low-cost, common-sense policy initiative that might appeal to a broad cross-section of voters.”(Oppenheimer 2017). This was noted as the start of the great commotion over uniforms since they essentially enforce policing in schools, limit creativity and confine students to social norms like gender roles. Thus, uniforms should not be required for students.

Policies like school uniform have become apart of an oppressive agenda, in which continuously gets overlooked. It has always been a prominent issue in the African American community that the educational system is ran in ways that police and criminalize. This means disadvantaged students get the short end of the stick, creating the school to prison pipeline. The school to prison pipeline is described as a direct link from one oppressive institution to another, in which includes the disproportionate amount of minds and bodies that belong to people who make up the youth and minority. For example, the Teaching Tolerance article points out that, “Policies that encourage police presence at schools, harsh tactics including physical restraint, and automatic punishments that result in suspensions and out-of-class time are huge contributors to the pipeline, but the problem is more complex than that. The school-to-prison pipeline starts (or is best avoided) in the classroom.

When combined with zero-tolerance policies, a teacher’s decision to refer students for punishment can mean they are pushed out of the classroom—and much more likely to be introduced into the criminal justice system.”(Elias 2013). Since students are often punished for not wearing uniform, the policy is seen as a major step in this zero tolerance policy. “New data released by The 74 found that three of the country’s largest school districts—Chicago, New York City and Miami—invest more money in policing students than in helping them. That means there’s plenty of funding for the harsh disciplinary policies that disproportionately criminalize and push young black students out of school and into the school-to-prison pipeline, but little for the types of measures that could help keep students in school, where they belong.”(Jeannoel, Shi, & Carr 2017). This information acts as a huge barrier when it comes to answering, “Should uniforms be required in schools?” Considering that the uniform policy can be seen as another way to control the poor, they are negative additions to the educational system.

The uniform policy also has the ability to be very hinderous throughout a vital time period in a student’s life. Both middle school and high school is about building your own character and molding your personality. Unfortunately, this process is completely disregarded when students are forced to wear uniforms. Not only does what you wear have the power to determine your mood, but it also affects your self esteem. While wearing a uniform, a student can’t express themselves through choice of color, religious belief, culture or art. According to USA Today, a school in Florida received backlash after expelling a African American boy because he had dreadlocks. The report mentions,“He said he was aware the school required a uniform, but was never told the dress code prohibits dreadlocks. The handbook posted online states boys may not wear dreads, Mohawks, designs, unnatural color, or unnatural designs.” (Yancey-Bragg 2018). Dreadlocks are apart of black culture, meaning they were also apart of that boy’s identity. His identity was rejected when his the right to education was denied. In short, uniforms don’t only limit self expression but in some cases, are deemed blatantly racist toward certain individuals.

Another huge con that comes with uniforms is sexism. Sexism, the discrimination based on one’s gender, comes in many forms that are usually embedded in our everyday routines. When it comes to a daily uniform, girls are often required to wear skirts and dresses, while boys are required to wear pants and shorts. These are seen as gender based standards since femininity and masculinity are always equated with their own type of clothing. Nadra Nittle, the author of “Students Are Waging War on Sexist and Racist Dress Codes and- They’re Winning” explains that, “Increasingly, students are challenging gender-based dress codes, and GLSEN (formerly the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) is one of many organizations advocating for them. In 2015, it updated its model district policy for transgender and gender-nonconforming students. The policy includes guidance about student attire, stating that dress codes may not be based on gender and that students have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity. Moreover, schools can’t use dress codes to target transgender and gender-nonconforming students.”(Nittle 2018). Nittle continues to shine light on the argument that uniforms are more harmful than anything through the way they promote prejudice. They enforce a dismissive way of thinking when it comes to gender and apparel, causing the societal norms that display sexism to be passed down generation after generation.

Contrarily, uniforms can be useful when it comes their uninteresting style or designs. Ultimately, this can help students focus more on their curriculum with less distractions. For example, many students are late to school when they have to rumble through clothes tying to put together something to wear. Students also get caught fighting about who has what and who doesn’t. Schools without uniform policies often become either competitions or fashion shows. Uniform policies helps eliminate both of these issues. According to, “A bulletin published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals stated that when all students are wearing the same outfit, they are less concerned about how they look and how they fit in with their peers; thus, they can concentrate on their schoolwork.” ( 2018). Since the time students spend thinking and talking about their clothing each day is cut down, their ability to focus on their education becomes better.

Uniforms have also been said to score points due to their cost. A week’s worth of uniforms can be extremely cheaper than a student’s regular clothes. “According to a 2013 survey from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), 77 percent of respondents estimated the average cost of school uniforms per child, per year, was $150 or less. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2013 parents spent close to $231 per child on back-to-school clothing. In 2016 that number has gone up. Back-to-school clothing purchases are expected to be more than $235 per child. New shoes add about $130 to the tab.” (Ingram 2016 ). Mainstream stores make a lot of money during back to school season because it’s completely commercialized. The stats show how uniforms can actually benefit a family economically, which is usually a major goal for most Americans.

Another reason uniforms are seen as positive aspects of schooling is through their attempt to create an unified learning environment. Since uniforms intend for every student to look alike when it comes to their attire, there are no initial obstacles. A student at St. Cecilia School in Beaverton wrote in her school’s newspaper , “The uniform in my opinion has always been the great equalizer,’ said Mizia. ‘Whether a student is rich or poor, with uniforms there’s no distinction between class.” (Catholic Sentinel 2004). Ultimately, explaining how equality can physically be displayed in classrooms. In addition, the article “The Pros and Cons of Uniforms” mentions, “When students don’t wear school uniforms it can be easy to spot kids with the most – and least – economic privilege based on what they wear to school.” (Josephson 2018).

Although there are pros and cons to every argument, some pros weigh more when you take ethics and universal morals into consideration. Therefore, school uniforms should not only be deemed as unethical, but also useless. “Education Week” published an article that describes, “In conducting hundreds of analyses, Brunsma looks for effects among individual students and entire schools, and among younger children and teenagers. He also controls for differences that might also account for varying test scores, such as the socioeconomic status or race of students. And, for the most part, he continues to come up empty-handed on any evidence that school uniform policies are effective.”(Viadero 2005). Like Viadero, many people find it hard to gather concrete evidence on why school uniforms should be required. While being part of a policing tactic, limiting self expression, and supporting sexism, uniforms are still being pushed in most schools. Through finding more ways to counter this controversial topic, an end to the policy can be the start of real change in our social lives.

Works Cited

  1. Ingram, Leah. “How School Uniforms Can Save Money.” Parade, Parade, 3 Aug. 2016,
  2. Jeannoel, Ruth, et al. “Schools Spend More Money Policing Students Than Helping Them.” The Root,, 12 Jan. 2017,
  3. Meleen, Michele. “School Uniforms Throughout History.” LoveToKnow, LoveToKnow Corp,
  4. Nittle, Nadra. “Students Are Waging War on Sexist and Racist School Dress Codes – and They’re Winning.”, Vox Media, 13 Sept. 2018,
  5. Oppenheimer, Mark. “The Downsides of School Uniforms.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 6 Sept. 2017,
  6. “The School-to-Prison Pipeline.” Teaching Tolerance,
  7. “Uniforms Help Students Keep Focus on Academics, Not Fashion.” An Image.,
  8. Viadero, Debra. “Uniform Effects?” Education Week, Editorial Project in Education, 22 June 2018,
  9. Yancey-Bragg, N’dea. “Florida School Receiving Death Threats after Turning Away 6-Year-Old with Dreadlocks.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 16 Aug. 2018,”
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Controversy Derives From Differences in Beliefs, Values, and Morals. (2021, Jul 05). Retrieved from

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