A Matter of Debate

Debates and discussions on the big issues in education

School Uniform Debate

School routines are in full swing, and the debate over uniforms rages again. In many developed nations (and developing nations), children are required to wear uniforms, such as Great Britain and Venezuela. Is this just another painful example of the United States falling behind the 8-ball in school standards? Or, rather, does it hold true to the value Americans place on individuality? We’ve got two veteran administrators reporting their positions from the field. Read what they have to say, then join the discussion!

'Uniforms have made a huge positive impact.'


Rita White

Principal of Riverwood Elementary
Memphis, TN

I have worked in public schools prior to and after the implementation of school uniforms. I believe school uniforms are one of the best policy changes Memphis City Schools has ever made.

I worked in an urban school with a very high poverty level. I had many incidents of arguments or fights because someone was making fun of their clothing. More times than not children came to school with the same clothes on several days in a row. All too often parents were not using good judgement regarding what was appropriate school attire for their children.

Once the uniform policy was in place students began taking more pride in their appearance. It no longer mattered if they were wearing the same clothes because they all looked alike. I had very few incidents of fights or arguments over clothing. Student behavior dramatically improved. When you look more professional you act more professional. Uniforms have made a huge positive impact in our schools.

'School uniforms are just another distraction.'


Tom Houlihan

Autor, educational consultant, and former superintendent of schools.
Oxford, North Carolina

I too have worked in the public schools and have seen one fad after another recommended for our students. Charters, vouchers, small schools, personalization-- the list is endless over the past 20+ years--and now school uniforms to save our children, improve discipline, and reduce drop-outs. It is not that school uniforms are a bad thing, it’s just that these random acts of improvement are a distraction from focusing on systematic and fundamental transformation to improve our schools.

If the idea of school uniforms was a part of an overall strategy to transform schools, it might make partial sense. But right now school uniforms are nothing more than a distraction, and I believe the concepts hurts us more than helps.

What's Your Opinion?

Please respect this as a forum for the thoughtful exchange of ideas.

Should schools require uniforms?

Opinions (27)

  • GeorgeWashington: like my comment poop

    Recommended by 275 users
    Oct 7, 2013
  • No

    FvirusD: Just because someone's pants is around their ankles, or their shirt is a little to low, doesn't mean uniforms should be put into policy. You're taking away their individuality. If you don't like what you see, do a dress code. No sagging pants, no low cut shirts, no holes above the knees, no skin showing when arms are lifted. Dress how you want, but make sure other people want to see it. And think about it, if you really don't want pants sagging or cleavage showing, teach them to wear a belt, and buy your kids wearable clothes. Maybe instead of deciding to wear uniforms, you should learn to decipline your kid. It's not that their bad, it's that as a parent you're doing something wrong. The child or teen shouldn't be punished because you didn't teach them how to dress, or how to be cofident in themselves against bullies. Theres another thing. When a child is being bullied, you should talk to them about it, and let them know that they have the cofidence and that no matter what as a parent you're always going to be there. Learn to be a better parent instead of punishing kids and teens for your mistakes.

    Recommended by 201 users
    Voted: No, Dec 7, 2011
  • GeorgeWashington: i was a turtle.

    Recommended by 163 users
    Oct 7, 2013
  • No

    becs: uniforms are wierd and besides with non-uniform you get a chance to wear all your favorite clothes.

    Recommended by 138 users
    Voted: No, Dec 6, 2010
  • GeorgeWashington: all the biographies about me are wrong.

    Recommended by 125 users
    Oct 7, 2013
  • No

    kat101btr: no because it is no fun. we parents have to waste more money because of uniforms

    Recommended by 119 users
    Voted: No, Dec 17, 2010
  • Yes

    iloveyoulayne: I am a fellow student (I come on this site for learning) and I get teased for what I wear everyday. If we have uniforms then if you say someone's outfit is ugly then back at you because you are wearing the same thing!

    Recommended by 116 users
    Voted: Yes, Dec 13, 2010
  • GeorgeWashington: this typewriter sucks

    Recommended by 105 users
    Oct 7, 2013
  • No

    mskendrick: i dont want uniforms people still talk about you even when your wearing it because your shirt may be to big or to small you may be flooding with your pants or something so its all ways going to be the same

    Recommended by 101 users
    Voted: No, Dec 7, 2010
  • helloimtori: no its stupid and dumb and should be illegal. THIS IS 'MERICA. WE ARE FREE

    Recommended by 95 users
    Feb 2, 2013
  • No

    GeorgeWashington: i said no, but im on both sides. the uniform ruins students right of self expression, and the uniforms can be too big, small, or ugly. except if you dont wear uniforms you can be teased/judged by the way you dress.

    Recommended by 89 users
    Voted: No, Oct 5, 2013
  • No

    GeorgeWashington: woops sorry i responded 2 times. im still getting used to the computor and not the typewriter. ;)

    Recommended by 78 users
    Voted: No, Oct 5, 2013
  • Yes

    TraumaNurse: When I attended public school, we had a dress code. Girls wore skirts or dresses, sleeves, no low cut tops, and shoes. Boys wore slacks, not jeans, and button down shirts, and shoes. We were being prepared to go into adulthood whether it be college or the work force. When children dress appropriately they seem to behave better. Parents, many not all, don't seem to care how their children dress. Many girls either dress like they are going to a nightclub, or to bed. Boys....well if you threw a basketball to them, in order to catch it, their pants would end up around their ankles. For many years I was in healthcare management, I interviewed and hired nursing assistants and nurses. One day  a C.N.A. was scheduled for an interview, I was speechless when she arrived wearing a swimsuit and a coverup. I told her to come back when she was dressed appropriately. She responded, "it shouldn't matter what I wear." Many "young people" arrived for interviews inappropriately dressed. Obviously their education was lacking both at home and school.

    Recommended by 74 users
    Voted: Yes, Dec 7, 2010
  • mike507: I hope you guys realize that this debate started in 2010 :)

    Recommended by 72 users
    Apr 4, 2013
  • Yes

    shams.quamar: I think school uniform is not necessary, because some kids don’t more have money to buy the latest trend and what not so other kids at school tend to put them out on what they wear. Students should worry more about study and school than worrying about clothes.

    Recommended by 54 users
    Voted: Yes, Jan 31, 2012
  • samarie: my son is a 15 yr old tenth grader who's high school just passed a dress code policy of black or grey tops and bottoms. maybe it's because i was raised in a small town and not in the city that i feel uniforms dont do a thing but make these kids look like robots with no sense of independence. we are suppose to get them ready to be self suffient adults with the capabilities to make good choices in thier lives with out always looking for someone to tell them what to do. my kid looks like a waiter sometimes,and i cant recall a " one of the ford 100 most richest people in the world" wearing a uniform to work. as for bullying, bullies will find any thing to tease you about no matter what. lest raise are kids to be strong and to stand up for themselves because they are future leaders who need to be able to get thru the ups and downs of life. and if your chid wants to be a sucess then they will no matter what they wear to school or do you really believe uniforms stop cutting classes,failing,gang violence,drug use or any other distructive behavior? enough parents, pay attention to your kids take 10 minutes everyday and talk to your child,no matter what time it is,do it! i also have a 11yr old and he makes sure they're are no bullies in his school and he only wears a uniform 3 days a week!

    Recommended by 53 users
    Dec 1, 2011
  • schooljunkie27: school uniforms are not good because they are to tight and uncomfortable

    Recommended by 52 users
    Dec 6, 2012
  • No

    GeorgeWashington: i said no, but i agree with both sides. it ruins students self expression, and sometimes they can be too big  or ugly. but if you dont have uniforms, you can be teased by the way you dress.

    Recommended by 52 users
    Voted: No, Oct 5, 2013
  • carcon22: I agree with Mr. Houlihan.  What children wear to school is only one aspect of their educational experience.  

    It is one of many factors in a child's education.  When paired with other changes such as providing children with a healthy breakfast before classes, or helping parents to be more effective when advocating for their children, I could see it helping a little, but it is not going to solve schools' problems.  

    Helping each child to learn to the best of their ability by using the most effecting teaching techniques, classroom organization and management is where the focus needs to be for most schools.  Uniforms are secondary.

    Recommended by 49 users
    Dec 2, 2010
  • Yes

    KIVS: I  believe as a parent and former public school student that uniforms should be part of  our public system policy. Not only help to keep a dress code professional among students  but also is a long term  option that helps avoid  constantly replacing costly outfits. The students learn at an early age to respond to a dress code that will be a benefit for them as they grow into adulthood. Some people believe that uniforms affects individuality among children. However students go to school to learn not to show off "skinny jeans". They can focus in showing individuality through their paperwork . There is a time and a place for everything, children and adolescents are under our care to encourage in the way they learn . The system should embrace every aspect of learning. Uniforms are part of that learning aspect. I t is sad to say that if there is a focus on uniforms in the school public  system then the system will suffer less attention in the things that matter. In my opinion every aspect matters.  

    Recommended by 47 users
    Voted: Yes, Apr 29, 2011
  • mike507: No there is no point to change someone else's personality; other adults might think its cute for there kids to wear a school uniform but I want to see THEM get into one t(-_-t) !!!!!

    Recommended by 44 users
    Apr 4, 2013
  • Yes

    GIvett: i voted that school should require uniforms because i think that we as parents aren't as involved in our children's education as much and therefore it isnt viewed a a priority when it should however, why not have a bit of a deal where uniforms are required to be worn monday throught thursday and on friday the children may whatever they wish that way their right of expressing themselves via clothing wouldn't be complelety abolished?

    Recommended by 43 users
    Voted: Yes, Jul 25, 2011
  • Bella-wa: Students dont have any rights if any at all so its all up to the goverment because he is a adult

    Recommended by 42 users
    Oct 7, 2013
  • Korrii: i belive that we should not wear uniform in district 189 you still get talk about even if you wearing uniform or not

    Recommended by 41 users
    Feb 7, 2013
  • CelesteMommy: I'm moving back to Memphis from Mississippi, I think uniforms are great for k-8 but once in high school kids should be able to wear regular clothes with limitations. My child will be going to Memphis public school so I did some research and found that uniforms are not stopping the bulling, they are not stopping gangs, as far as the picking it still exist because parents don't teach their kids about the less fortunate. But just lik ue with regular clothes people can still buy expensive uniforms. So it will always be something. But the high schoolers  should be able to wear plain clothes it's their last years.

    Recommended by 41 users
    Apr 1, 2013
  • Bella-wa: I think that we should wear school uniforms.

    Recommended by 40 users
    Oct 7, 2013
  • uniformsrok: I think we should have uniforms in district 115 because they have an influince on people , for example people have somebody to rely on without being bullied , like on a team nobody gets left out or bullied

    Recommended by 36 users
    Mar 28, 2013
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