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Topics Homepage> Schools should require uniforms

Schools should require uniforms

PRO (8 assertions)

Define:

Uniform policy - any policy that restricts what students can wear in school. The PRO may use “uniforms” and “dress codes” interchangeably throughout this debate.

School - We’re limiting the topic to public middle schools, because it would be way too broad if we didn’t limit it to middle schools and because you legally can’t enforce a uniform policy on a private school.

 


Rebuttal To: Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Huzzah!!!

Assertion: In Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School, a Supreme Court trial that laid the framework for interpretations of the 1st Amendment and the freedom of speech, the Supreme Court ruled that a student’s freedom of expression in school must be protected unless it causes “a material and substantial disruption of school activities or an invasion of the rights of others.” The material and substantial disruption of school activities in our case would mean clothing that upsets any students, retards the academic advancements of students, or contributes to a less obedient or respectful school environment. This means that students cannot wear many of the clothes that are currently allowed in our public schools. Thus, to follow this ruling, then school uniforms must actually be required in all public schools. Two other important court cases involving uniforms occurred in 2001. The first was Canady vs. Bossier Parish School Board, and in this case, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules 3-0 in favor of a school’s right to implement a mandatory school uniform policy. In the second one, Littlefield v. Forney Independent School District, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals again rules 3-0 in favor of a school’s right to have a uniform policy. Clearly, uniforms do not violate a students rights and therefore should be implemented in all public schools.

A Breakdown:

School uniforms for…

Kids- + because emotionally no social outcast

Parents- + because no fretting about what student wears, no expensive wardrobe, and makes kids look good

School- + because of togetherness, school spirit encouraged, and dressed for success

 

1. Assertion: Uniforms create a sense of togetherness in schools

Reasoning: When people wear different types of clothes, there is a psychological aspect to this that causes people to group together mainly according to how the kids express themselves through items like their clothes. Basically, clothes are identifiers and give certain kids reason to exclude others or when one kid wears something unique it makes him/her feel like the outsider of the bunch. With school uniforms, because everyone is wearing the same clothes, people identify themselves as part of one whole group, as a school, which allows people to feel both more comfortable and relaxed in the school environment thanks to a uniform dress code.

Evidence: Principal at Northshore HS in Louisiana, a longtime skeptic to uniforms, stated in the book Uniforms: Conformity and Transgression, “However, after seeing our students in uniforms for the last two weeks, I see an almost magical change in the student body. My seniors talk of the ease with which they dress in the morning, and all the kids seem calmer and more mild-mannered. Almost all the students were easing the uniforms although the deadline for wearing them was weeks away. Maybe there’s something to them. Perhaps they raw us all into a sense of security and well-being that only conformity can give.”

2. Assertion: Uniforms create an even socio-economic level in the school

Reasoning: Kids who go to public schools come from a variety of backgrounds; some parents are rich, others are poor. A kid’s wealth translates into what clothes and items he/she can afford, and this unbalance in the wealth of kids in a public school creates a bad environment for certain kids. Why? Because the poorer kids won’t be able to afford the “latest trend” or as extravagant or expensive items as the richer kids, leading them to feel insecure about what they’re wearing and creates an embarrassing situation for kids.

Reasoning: Kids who go to public schools come from a variety of backgrounds; some parents are rich, others are poor. A kid’s wealth translates into what clothes and items he/she can afford, and this unbalance in the wealth of kids in a public school creates a bad environment for certain kids. Why? Because the poorer kids won’t be able to afford the “latest trend” or as extravagant or expensive items as the richer kids, leading them to feel insecure about what they’re wearing and creates an embarrassing situation for kids.

Evidence: Guidance Counselor at Douglas elementary school, Memphis, Tennessee, “The tone of the school is different. There’s not the competitiveness…about who’s wearing what.”

The Bureau of Education’s website says, “Schools have fewer reasons to call the police. There’s less conflict among students. Students concentrate more on education, not on who’s wearing $100 shoes or gang attire.”

The principal of Porter Tradition-where uniforms are mandatory- states in the article “Pros and Cons of School Uniforms”, “The uniforms were a great way to level a diverse socio-economic playing field. With a boundary change that incorporated the lower middle class neighborhoods… the uniforms change was initially very successful.

: Guidance Counselor at Douglas elementary school, Memphis, Tennessee, “The tone of the school is different. There’s not the competitiveness…about who’s wearing what.”

The Bureau of Education’s website says, “Schools have fewer reasons to call the police. There’s less conflict among students. Students concentrate more on education, not on who’s wearing $100 shoes or gang attire.”

The principal of Porter Tradition-where uniforms are mandatory- states in the article “Pros and Cons of School Uniforms”, “The uniforms were a great way to level a diverse socio-economic playing field. With a boundary change that incorporated the lower middle class neighborhoods… the uniforms change was initially very successful.

3. Assertion: Uniforms create school spirit

Reasoning: Uniform helps to create a strong sense school ethos and a sense of belonging to a particular community. As such it promotes discipline and helps to drive up academic standards, which is why a uniform is often adopted by schools which are being reopened with a fresh start after being classified as failing. The uniform is the first step towards cleaning up a school and trying to at least dress like a good one.

Evidence: Principal of Carver elementary school, Kansas City, Missouri, “The children feel good about themselves as school uniforms build a sense of school pride.”

4. Assertion: Uniforms create security in schools

Reasoning: When a student has to wear a certain uniform and look a certain way, this enables school authorities to far easier tell if a student is in possession of a weapon or some illegal substance. For with uniforms, there is no easy place to hide or stuff something, because if you don’t look exactly like the next student in line, school authorities can tell that you are carrying something not permitted. This could be a gun, a knife, or illegal substances including drugs or alcohol smuggled into school. Secondly and more importantly, uniforms make it harder for outsiders to sneak into a school. With uniforms, in a heartbeat you can distinguish between someone who does go to a school against a potentially dangerous person who just snuck in.

Evidence: Online News Hour Extra: News for Students, “At Farragut High School in Chicago in 1994, it was a riot zone; gangs ran the school and conducted daily mob action fights in the halls. Police and security patrolled the corridors. Amid other changes, the cheapest option- the introduction of school uniforms- proved the most effective. The enforcement of the uniform code…eliminated gang behavior and graffiti, increased attendance and performance scores, and reduced dropout rates. Uniforms showed people cared. Similar findings were reported in other school as well as other more subtle changes.”

Also, with a school uniform, “school officials can easily identify if a student is carrying something dangerous, including crowbars and even guns.” “At Middle School, a Uniform Solution”- The McClatchy Tribune Business News.


Assertions #5, 6, 7, 8

CON (8 assertions)

Just to clear things up, there’s a difference between dress codes and school uniforms:

A dress code tells you what you can’t wear.

A uniform tells you what you have to wear.

The PRO must support a uniform whereas the CON side has taken to supporting dress codes rather than a uniform. The difference? The pro wants a rigid system in that there is only one option for students to wear and they must wear it. The negation wants very loose and relaxed dress codes that eliminate only the most obscene or offensive clothing but allow kids to wear anything so long as they are appropriate to wear in public in school

 

 

Rebuttal To: Uniforms make it easier for students to choose what they are to wear to school

Assertion: But is it really a virtue of the school uniform that the 'choice' is made so easy? It would be just as 'easy' for children to decide what to wear, if they only had, say, jeans and T-shirts in their cupboards. This kind of 'choice' has nothing to do with wearing uniforms. If there are only jeans and T-shirts in the cupboard, the child will have to wear jeans and T-shirts. The choice is easy, because there is no alternative with uniforms. If there were only a ski-outfit in the cupboard, the child had to wear the ski-outfit and the ‘choice’ was equally 'easy'. The point is that the 'choice' is not so much made 'easy' by virtue of uniformity, no, the choice is easy because there is no choice. One only has choice if there is something to choose from. The real question is if choice is good for children. Taking away children's right to choose what to wear does not make live any easier, it just makes children accustomed to conformity, to following orders and walking in line without thinking, without making a choice. This creates a huge amount of psychological problems later in life.

 

Rebuttal To: Socio-economic difference eliminator

Assertion: Supporters of school uniforms argue that they wipe out socioeconomic differences by forcing students to wear the same clothes. This argument is flawed; there are still several ways to show off one’s wealth. Clothing is not the only way in which students show that they are wealthy. Students will also inevitably talk about their families, vacations, and hobbies. Finally, students will be wearing normal clothing at social events outside of school, so all that school uniforms do is delay the alienation based on clothing till after school. They don’t solve the actual problem- they just delay it and let it get worse.

Additionally, it’s unfair to assume that students can’t make friends with people who are dressed differently than they are. Students are already capable of crossing boundaries without required identical clothing, and schools can encourage this with leadership activities and group discussions. School uniforms aren’t the solution to kids excluding each other- they actually worsen it. The actual solutions are different and better, so lets use them instead.

 

Perfect POIs:

1. You said that kids who wear uniforms are more used to dress codes later in life because of school uniforms. Now, do you have any cases where someone who didn’t have to wear a school uniform couldn’t manage in to wear a dress code in a job? Why does uniform spell out success any more than not wearing a uniform? Tons of people work in jobs where dress codes are enforced who didn’t wear uniforms as a kid.

2. Do you have any evidence that shows a direct correlation between school uniforms and an increase in pay later in life? How do you know that the reason why someone got a good job was because they wore school uniforms in middle school 30 years ago?

 

1. Assertion: Uniforms make it hard for kids to give themselves an identity

Reasoning: Uniform suppresses individualism and treats students en masse rather than encouraging teachers to recognize their different characters and abilities, and students to accept responsibility for aspects of their own lives. When a student is in a uniform, he’s forced to think that he is just part of a huge mass of kids and that it will be impossible for him to distinguish himself from the rest of the crowd. Uniform was better suited to an age of rote learning and military-style discipline than to the more exploratory and creative values of modern education – values which are increasingly important to the wider economy. Especially when so many kids these days excel in all areas of academics and athletics, by using uniforms we just encourage the notion that there are a billion other kids in the world and that you aren’t so special after all when you sit in an auditorium with hundreds of other kids dressed the same as you

Evidence: The Guide to Psychology and Practice by Raymond Richmond, Ph. D, writes, “Uniforms give one common appearance to all who perform a particular function. Most of us, however, understand full well that a uniform, in itself, does not mean anything. However, that brings me to my next point, in that adolescent teens still trying to create their own sense of individuality do not see things this way. A uniform is just another way to make a kid feel even more insecure and less important in this rapidly changing and growing world.

2. Assertion: Uniforms creates a more competitive atmosphere

Reasoning: By using uniforms, you create an environment that believes that everyone is being compared to each other. When everyone is being put in the same uniform and everyone looks the same, kids feel that they have to compete with all these kids to distinguish themselves from all the other kids who look exactly like them. This increases pressure on students as they struggle to distinguish themselves from the mass of uniforms at a school.

Evidence: Cookeville Times

3. Assertion: Uniforms don’t fix the alienation problem at our schools

Reasoning: Students always find ways to tease or bully others, regardless of what clothes are worn. If it’s not clothes, then it will be something else. Plus, another fact that the PRO is ignoring is that kids don’t usually wear uniforms after school. They change into normal clothes, also known as the clothes that the PRO wants to eliminate in our schools. And by doing this, they open themselves back up to being bullying about the clothes they wear. The only way, then, for the affirmation’s point to be true would be if the students also had to wear a uniform outside of school also. Otherwise, all that uniforms do is delay the teasing for a few hours.

Evidence: Common sense

4. Assertion: School uniforms just make kids hate dress codes more

Reasoning: Students who wish to be particularly fashionable will want to own the same number of outfits regardless of whether they are allowed to wear them to school or not, changing into them the minute that classes are over. Kids won’t learn responsibility or how to dress properly because the minute they get home from school they can’t wait to tear off their restraining uniform and put on more comfortable clothes. So, in the end, all school uniforms do is make kids dislike having a dress code, because they still hate uniforms. --Making kids wear uniforms doesn’t mean they instantly begin to like wearing uniforms. It’s actually the opposite- they begin to loathe it.-- This is a huge fallacy my opponents are committing and because of this judge you can just cross off their point.

Evidence: BBC News reports that kids who wear uniforms later in life develop a natural resistance to wearing dress codes and uniforms. “Uniforms in schools introduces the concept of dress codes too early for kids, when they are not mentally ready to wear a certain set of clothes designated every day and thus is not received well. This translates later in life to an increase in dislike towards uniforms and kids end up being less open to wearing uniforms later and begin to wear more expressive and inappropriate clothing because of this.”—The Issue with Uniforms, Shelly Brianna.

 


Assertions #5, 6, 7, 8