In the June 2007 Parenting magazine’s Mom Debate [if you aren't familiar with Parenting, this is a monthly feature in the magazine where they encourage moms to give their opinions on a particular topic], the question was “Should kids wear uniforms to school?” With 11,000 responses, 76% said “yes.” I was shocked. I had no idea so many people were for school uniforms.
Some of the “yes” votes give reasons such as the low cost because you don’t have to buy a bunch of new — and usually brand name — clothes, it helps kids focus more on school rather than what their classmate is wearing, kids get to know each other based on personality rather than what they’re wearing and kids take pride in their appearance. [I totally don't get that last one? How does wearing a uniform help you take pride in your appearance? I would think meticulously picking out your own clothes would help you take pride over just throwing on the same thing every single day.]
Some of the “no” votes said a teacher told them that uniforms don’t stop the teasing kids dish out at school, uniforms may actually emphasis the differences in appearance [rather than giving a kid a chance to wear something that's flattering to their body type] and kids create their own identity and gain independence by picking out their own clothes.
I live in an area where we don’t have any schools that require uniforms. I’m trying to rack my brain to think if any of the private schools make the kids wear uniforms, but I can’t think of a single one. The only experience I have with school uniforms is from The Facts of Life. So you’ll have to educate me here. How many uniforms does a kid get? Five? Or do they have to do laundry every day or every other day to make sure they have a clean uniform? Does the school provide the uniforms for the kids or do parents have to buy the uniforms? Is there a different uniform for warm weather than there is for cool weather? Do they come in all sizes, even in super long and tall for girls with freakishly long arms and legs [like myself]? I’m just trying to figure out how much of a cost savings it is? Because you’ll still need to buy your kid other clothes. From what I’ve heard, kids usually hate their uniforms. So I’m guessing they change as soon as they get home and they probably don’t wear them to the mall on weekends.
Plus what do kids wear to gym class? Their uniform? Or is there another uniform for gym class and sport practices? So more money for another uniform? Or is P.E. the one place where they get to express their own individuality by wearing their own shorts and t-shirts?
I don’t know enough about uniforms to make an educated decision on whether or not uniforms are a good thing. But if I had to choose I’d say I prefer my kids to wear whatever they want. I’m all for setting rules. No halter tops. No short shorts. No shorts hanging so low I can see the skid marks in your underwear. Things like that. But I like the fact that my kids can wear what suits their own style.
I was never really a girly girl. In fact, you will still rarely catch me in a skirt or dress. I have always had very pale skin [part of my red hair and freckles package] so I refused to wear shorts to school until I was in high school and started to care a little less about what people thought of me. I didn’t want to give kids an excuse to make fun of my white legs. I would have been devastated if I would of been forced to wear a skirt every day.
My sister has a birthmark that goes all the way up her leg. Now that she’s a teenager I never see her wear shorts. It could be approaching 100 degrees out and she’ll be in jeans and flip-flops. I know she’d hate it if she had to wear a skirt as part of some uniform.
Granted in the “real world” we often have “uniforms” for work. So maybe a school uniform is preparing our youth for this. Some workplaces require professional dress. So you have to wear a suit [and tie for the guys], but they don’t restrict the color or style or fit. We still get to show some of our creativity and individuality in the suit we chose. I worked at Target for a while and they have a strict dress code; khaki pants and a red top. But you got to choose your own khaki pants and your own red top.
And I don’t really get the whole “there will be more learning when kids wear uniforms.” I don’t remember slacking off in class just so we could sit around and discuss what everybody was wearing. That’s what lunch was for. Even if the students are all wearing the same outfit, kids will still find a way to make fun of each other. “Did you see how Susie wore her hair today? She’s burning her very own hole in the ozone layer with all the hairspray she uses?” Or “Does Joey every shower? Dude he smells so bad.” Kids will find something to talk about. They will find a way to bully. Matching outfits don’t stop the teasing.
Plus kids will still find a way to be different and stand out. Uniforms aren’t going to stop the Emo kids from dying their hair black or painting their nails. They also won’t stop the popular girls from wearing too much makeup and spending an hour in the bathroom each morning straightening their hair.
So 76%? Really? Can somebody please tell me why? Cause I’m still shocked that 76% of moms like the idea of uniforms.