Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Today’s society is built upon the values of freedom, independence and the rights of man. The freedom of expression and the basic rights that were fought for are taken away by strict school dress codes or mandatory school uniforms. Everyone should have the freedom to wear what makes them comfortable. The choices in clothing and accessories can increase self-esteem. Clothing choices can also bring awareness to a particular voice of opinion as well as making it a statement of fitting in with a crowd because the need to be a part of something is a basic need for all humans especially school aged children and teens.
When thinking of letting students wear their choice of clothing versus school uniforms the debate continues for both sides. After researching some of those debates I found the case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School where the court said that a student’s freedom of expression in school must be protected unless it would seriously interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline. The clothing we wear is an expression of our independence and right to express ourselves for who we are. School uniforms will do nothing but cut down on a student’s individuality. Therefore choice in daily wear is not only our expression of self but a little taste of independence and ultimately increasing student confidence and grades in school.
Many people say that uniforms or strict dress codes help develop the discipline of the student. This could not be further from the truth. School uniforms only create more rules for a student to follow, taking away from the primary function of school: education. School is about education, social and academic, and uniforms or strict dress codes do not encourage a learning environment if one is always either uncomfortable or stressed about wearing the right outfit that will meet strict rules. School uniforms or a separate school appropriate clothing wardrobe take up money and time that could be spent on other activities.
Parents have to spend money on their children’s uniforms or an entire second ‘school appropriate’ wardrobe when they already have clothes that would be just as good. School districts have to put money, time, and effort into developing uniforms or such strict dress codes by enforcing the dress code once it has come into effect that doesn’t distract the students but the teacher who is on constant vigil to send a student to the office to go home and change therefore taking that student away from learning and isn’t getting an education what children are in school for? Why not spend this cash on needed school equipment instead and direct teachers to get their students attention by ensuring their learning in meaningful and challenging ways?
Lastly, students do not like uniforms or strict dress codes such as the ones in place in the Sapulpa School District where students are prohibited from wearing any rips or tears in any jeans and boys are not allowed to wear earrings. After researching other 6A area schools and their dress code policies, they are very lenient requiring safe clothing with modest attire. Jenks, Union and Broken Arrow Public schools allow the more modern style of jeans that have some stress rips or threads as long as they are below the longest finger when the arm is resting at their side. Boys are allowed to wear earrings as well. After looking into the more lenient dress code policies I went a step further by looking into their academic scores based on the 2011 High School Union end of instruction test scores where they have increased every year since 2003 in every subject.
Not only do they try to keep the students in school by using a less restrictive dress code that is modest and lets them express their individuality but have also adopted the Community School model that Tulsa Public Schools pioneered in the area where doctors, dentists and other professionals are brought to the schools to increase a feeling of home, family and ultimately attendance. This model is my final proving theory that schools should have basic dress codes that do address modesty but letting the students choose to wear what they want to wear just as the students of the previous decades chose to express themselves with poodle skirts, hippie hip huggers or the micro miniskirts of the 1970’s. Let the students have the freedom of choice to wear what they want for clothing or jewelry for both boys and girls as long as it doesn’t distract from their education.
Finally let’s keep kids in school by showing them respect for personal choices and not sending them home every time a teacher finds a tiny hole in some jeans below the knee…after all our final destination is a well-educated adult who also fights for the freedoms of our country by being a responsible decision making citizen? Another quote that further speaks for the right of the individual is by President Thomas Jefferson along with our founding fathers when they penned the Declaration of Independence in 1776, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
* Franklin, Benjamin. Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 * Jefferson, Thomas. Declaration of Independence, 1776
* Union Public Schools Student Policy Handbook 2011-2012 Dress Code * Union Public Schools Website; www.unionps.org “End of the Year Instruction Scores” * Jenks Public Schools website www.jenksps.org “ Student Dress Code” * Broken Arrow Public Schools website www.ba.k12.ok.us “Student Dress Code” * Wikpidia. “Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District” Web. * Clifford, Stephanie. “A Little Give in the Dress Code.” Editorial. Web. * Freeman, January. “Dress Code Further Defined” Web. * Rodriguez, Erica. “Traffic, Dress Code Biggest Issues for First Day of School” (23 Aug. 2012). Web.