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School Uniform Proposals

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									                                Asheville City Schools Uniform Dress Research Compilation
                                                       Jan. 19, 2010
                                 Research by Catherine Adams, WCU Graduate Assistant
                                                Compiled by Charlie Glazener

    1. http://www.biggerpicture4wake.com/Uniforms_in_Public_Schools_Report-9.08-_word.pdf

Uniforms in Public Schools

An Overview of School Uniform Policies in U.S. and North Carolina Public Schools

Prepared by Leesville Elementary School parents: Rhonda Curtright, Betsy Pearce, Marguerite LeBlanc, Terri Exel


While commonplace around the world, in the United States school uniforms were until recently the providence of parochial
and private schools, where they are viewed as a key element of the educational environment. In the 1980’s, however,
interest in implementing school uniform programs in public schools began to grow. This movement was parent-driven and
based on the belief that uniforms would increase discipline, create a better learning environment and reduce violence in their
children’s schools.

Implementation of uniform policies in public schools has not been without controversy. Those who report success with
uniform policies claim that they improve academics, reduce truancy and violence, lower costs and improve the social
environment of their schools. Opponents question whether the benefits claimed by some districts are actually the result of
uniforms or other factors. Much of the evidence is anecdotal, based on the opinions of educators, administrators and
parents. Because uniforms in public schools are relatively new, no long range research has been completed and the
research that exists is conflicting. For example, researchers using data collected as part of The National Educational
Longitudinal Study of 1988 to teat claims made by those who support uniforms found that uniforms have no direct effect on
substance use, behavioral problems, or attendance (Brunsma and Rockquemore, 1998.) In contrast, researcher Sharon
Pate found in a large Florida study that uniforms improved behavior and reduced violence (Pate, 1999.)

The first large public school district to adopt school uniforms was Long Beach, CA in 1994, with many other school districts
following. The adoption of school uniforms for all 200,000 students by the Philadelphia Board of Education in May 2000 was
another landmark. Uniforms have been adopted either system-wide or in individual schools in many of the country’s largest
districts. Districts with uniform policies include Los Angeles/Long Beach; New York City, NY (the country’s largest); Houston,
Dallas/Fort Worth; Washington, DC; New Orleans; Detroit; Jacksonville, FL; Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Cleveland;
Miami; Nashville; Phoenix; Seattle; and St. Louis.

Other cities that have widespread uniform use in their public schools include:
100% of Newark, NJ elementary students (as of Dec.1, 2008) This will affect 30,000 students.
85% of Cleveland’s public schools require uniforms
80% of Chicago’s public schools require uniforms
65% of Boston’s public schools require uniforms
60% of Miami’s public schools require uniforms
50% of Cincinnati’s public schools require uniforms

In North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School district has 34 elementary schools (33%), and 9 (27%) middle schools that
require school uniforms. In New Hanover County 9 of 23 elementary schools and 2 of 7 middle schools implemented uniform
policies this year. All students in Pitt County public schools started wearing uniforms this school year, from kindergarten
through 12th grade. (www.cms.k12.nc.us) Uniforms are already commonplace in charter schools and the NC Department of
Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools estimates that 80% require uniforms.
A National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) survey in 2000 found that 21% of all public schools polled
had a uniform policy. A 2007 Voice of America report on the subject of uniforms estimated 24% of public elementary schools
require uniforms. NAESP which includes middle level principals has not taken an official stand on school uniforms, leaving it
to be decided school-by-school (www.naesp.org)

Because it has been requiring uniforms longer than any other district, the Long Beach school district is often looked to by
those attempting to quantify the positive and negative affects of uniforms. A case study of the effects of adopting school
uniforms in Long Beach, CA which appeared in Psychology Today in September, 1999, reported the following effects from
the switch to uniforms in 1995:
Overall, the crime rate dropped by 91%
School suspensions dropped by 90%
Sex offenses were reduced by 96%
Incidents of vandalism went down 69%
Also reporting on the Long Beach Unified School District, an Education Week article in 1998 reported that since
implementation in1994, assaults in grades Kindergarten through 8 had decreased by 85%.

Yet some researchers paint a different picture from Pate. Using tenth grade data from The National Educational Longitudinal
Study of 1988, Brunsma and Rockquemore tested proponents’ claims including decreased substance abuse, decreased
behavioral problems, less truancy, and improved academics (1998.) Their research found no direct effect in any of the areas
and actually pointed to a negative link between school uniforms and student academic achievement. Brunsma and
Rockquemore acknowledge an indirect improvement in school environment and student outcomes due to the adoption of
school uniforms, but they believe that the result uniform proponents claim are in fact the result of other changes in the
schools policies or structure. Other researchers likewise question whether the uniforms themselves are responsible for
improvements in the schools or other factors such as increased parental involvement (Wallin.)

The American Civil Liberties Union says there's no link between school uniforms and safety or good grades. Former
California high school Principal Dennis Evans says teenagers who decide what to wear in the morning are developing
decision-making skills and learning to take responsibility for their choices in life. Many students agree.
(www.buzzle.com/articles/facts-against-school-uniforms.html.) One interesting study conducted in private schools found a
gap between the benefits perceived by parents and educators and the benefits perceived by those who actually wear the
uniforms (Firmin, Smith, and Perry.)

What would uniforms look like?
Typical school uniforms tend to be navy or khaki pants, skirts, skorts, shorts, or jumpers accompanied by a solid- colored
collared shirt, either polo or button down style, or turtlenecks. Colors tend to be school related. There are usually two or
three choices for shirt colors. In many cases school labeled polo or t-shirt are permitted.

How To Implement a Uniform Policy?
The U.S. Department of Education’s 1996 manual on uniforms in public schools outlined the following recommendations for
successful implementation of school uniforms:
1. Get parents involved from the beginning.
2. Protect students’ religious expression.
3. Protect students’ other rights of expression.
4. Determine whether to have a voluntary or mandatory school-uniform policy.
5. When a mandatory policy is adopted, determine whether to have an opt-out provision.
6. Do not require students to wear a message.
7. Assist families that need financial help.
8. Treat school uniforms as part of an overall safety program.

    2.   http://www.members.tripod.com/rockqu/uniform.htm

     The Effects of Student Uniforms on Attendance, Behavior Problems, Substance Use, and Academic Achievement

                                        David L. Brunsma and Kerry A. Rockquemore

                                     Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame

                                                   Notre Dame, IN 46556


Recent discourse on public school reform has focused on mandatory uniform policies. Proponents of such reform measures
emphasize the benefits of student uniforms on specific behavioral and academic outcomes. This research empirically tests
the claims made by uniform advocates using 10th grade data from The National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988.
Our findings indicate that student uniforms have no direct effect on substance use, behavioral problems or attendance. A
negative effect of uniforms on student academic achievement was found. These findings are contrary to current discourse
on student uniforms. We conclude that uniform policies may indirectly affect school environment and student outcomes by
providing a visible and public symbol of commitment to school improvement and reform.

Uniform advocates propose several different arguments. First, uniforms are argued to positively effect student safety by:
lowering student victimization (Scherer 1991), decreasing gang activity and fights (Kennedy, 1995; Loesch, 1995), and
differentiating strangers from students in the school building (Department of Justice, 1996; Gursky, 1996). Second, uniforms
are asserted to increase student learning and attitudes towards school through: enhancing the learning environment (Stover,
1990), raising school pride (Jarchow, 1992), increasing student achievement (Thomas, 1994), raising levels of preparedness
(Thomas, 1994), and promoting conformity to organizational goals (LaPointe, Holloman, and Alleyne, 1992; Workman &
Johnson, 1994). Additionally, uniforms are attributed to decreasing behavior problems by: increasing attendance rates,
lowering suspension rates, and decreasing substance use among the student body (Gursky, 1996). Finally, various
psychological outcomes are attributed to wearing uniforms including: increased self-esteem (Thomas, 1994), increased spirit
(Jarchow, 1992), and increased feelings of "oneness" among students (LaPointe, Holoman, & Alleyne, 1992).

Opponents of adopting uniform policies stress the legal, financial, and questionable effectiveness of such policies. The legal
concerns focus on the supposition that requiring a uniform violates children's individual rights (Thomas, 1994; Virginia State
Department of Education, 1992). This argument is extended by opponents who argue that mandatory uniform policies are
being considered largely for urban school districts, and hence are being forced upon a predominately minority and poor
student population (Thomas, 1994). Financially, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have voiced concerns
about the cost of uniforms, specifically that purchasing one is a mandatory cost which some disadvantaged parents are
unable to afford (Gursky, 1996). Finally, the strongest opponents to uniform policies charge that there currently exists no
empirical evidence to support the numerous and varied claims of uniform proponents (LaPointe, Holoman, & Alleyne, 1992).

Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD:

These schools are becoming educational workplaces. Students arrive dressed for success, ready to learn. They're getting
along with one another better and experiencing significant gains. Principals and teachers tell us that students' success is
taking many forms -- fewer absences, fewer tardies, fewer truancies, fewer referrals to the office for behavior problems,
fewer suspensions and expulsions, better grades and, in some cases, significantly higher achievement. (Polacheck, 1996)

In this district, school uniforms are currently required from kindergarten through eighth grade in 70 schools, including
approximately 60,000 students. School District press releases indicate that there is widespread parental support for the
mandatory uniform policy. Although California law provides a clause allowing parents to request a uniform exemption for
their students, less than 1% of parents have requested such exemptions. In efforts to aid students from financially
disadvantaged families, philanthropic groups in the area have provided $160,000 in uniforms to Long Beach students. The

table (Table A) in Appendix A presents the statistical evidence provided by the School District in support of their claims that
school uniforms decrease crime.

Specifically, we will examine the effect of wearing a uniform on attendance, disciplinary behavior problems, substance
abuse, and academic achievement. It is the intention of the authors that a thorough analysis of the arguments proposed by
uniform advocates will add critical insight to the ongoing debate on the effects of school uniform policies.

Given these characteristics of uniforms, it becomes clear that mandatory uniforms serve the function of maintaining social
control within the school environment. The uniforms, as a sign of group membership, act as immediate cues which signal
who does and does not belong to the school community. Amongst the community members themselves, uniforms seem to
act as a dramaturgical device by establishing interactional boundaries between members of separate statuses (teachers and
students) and promoting the internalization of organizational goals.

The following hypotheses are provided to test the validity of the uniform advocates' statements.

H1: Student uniforms will decrease substance use

H2: Student uniforms will decrease behavioral problems

H3: Student uniforms will increase attendance

H4: Student uniforms will increase academic achievement

The National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) is used to test the relationships outlined above. NELS:88 is
a national stratified random sample of schools and students which began with eighth grade students (in 1988).

A variable from the School Component of NELS:88 was used to ascertain whether or not a student was, due to school
policy, required to wear a uniform. Some 5% of the students in the entire sample were required by policy to wear a school
uniform. This can be further broken down into: 65.4% of Catholic, 16.6% of Private Non-Religious, 5.4% of Private Other-
Religious, .8% of Public, and 0% of Private

                                                   TABLE 2:
Weighted Sector Comparisons on Means of Absenteeism, Behavior, Substance Use and Standardized Achievement Scores
                             Uniformd                   Non-Uniform
Total Samplea (N=4578)

Absent                            2.90                          3.01

Behavior                          1.58                          1.74

Drugs                             2.68                          2.71

F12xcomp                          52.89**                       50.58
Catholic Sampleb (N=327)

Absent                            2.89*                         2.55

Behavior                          1.49                          1.41

Drugs                            2.73                           2.80

F12xcomp                         53.51**                        56.53
Private Samplec (N=80)

Absent                           2.93                           2.73

Behavior                         1.33                           1.28

Drugs                            2.36                           2.07

F12xcomp                         56.60                          56.01


The Discourse/Rhetoric Re-examined

Our failure to find a direct effect of uniforms on behavioral outcomes or academic achievement provide cause for a closer
examination of the uniform debate. It seems that reformers have seriously considered the educational research showing
outcome differentials between public and Catholic school students. However, it is equally apparent that the most superficial
policies are those that have been extracted for possible reform efforts. A closer reading of the public versus private school
literature would suggest that uniforms are merely symbolic of the communal organization of Catholic schools which,
researchers have proposed (Bryk, Lee, & Holland, 1993; Bryk & Driscoll, 1988; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987), is the fundamental
cause of the Catholic school advantage.

A reconsideration of the Long Beach case sheds light on the flawed logic of uniform proponents' assertions. The descriptive
information provided by LBUSD (Appendix A) suggested that school crime was significantly reduced between the 1994-1995
and 1995-1996 school years. Between these periods a mandatory uniform policy was established district wide. Seemingly,
the correlation between these two events is reason enough for Long Beach administrators to state that a causal relationship
exists. While in fact, these two events may be empirically verifiable, the argument that uniforms have caused the decrease in
school crime is simply not substantiated. Taking into consideration both the findings provided in this paper and the additional
materials from the Long Beach public school system, we would propose an alternative interpretation.

What is omitted from the discourse on school uniforms is the possibility that, instead of directly impacting specific outcomes,
uniforms work as a catalyst for change and provide a highly visible window of opportunity. It is this window which allows
additional programs to be implemented. An examination of the Long Beach case shows that several additional reform efforts
were simultaneously implemented with the mandatory uniform policy. These programs include a reassessment of content
standards, a $1 million grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to develop alternative pedagogical strategies, and
the Focused Reporting Project (Kahl, 1996). It seems curious that given these substantive reform efforts, administrators
continue to insist that uniforms are the sole factor causing a variety of positive educational outcome.

Requiring students to wear uniforms is a change which not only effects students, but school faculty and parents. Instituting a
mandatory uniform policy is a change which is immediate, highly visible, and shifts the environmental landscape of any
particular school. This change is one that is superficial, but attracts attention because of its visible nature. Instituting a
uniform policy can be viewed as analogous to cleaning and brightly painting a deteriorating building in that on the one hand,
it grabs our immediate attention but on the other, is, after all, really only a coat of paint. This type of change serves the
purpose of attracting attention to schools, it implies that serious problems are existent and necessitate this sort of drastic
change, and it seems entirely possible that this attention renews an interest on the parts of parents and communities, and
opens the possibilities for support of additional types of organizational change.

    3. http://www.uh.edu/econpapers/RePEc/hou/wpaper/2009-03.pdf

Dressed for Success: Do School
Uniforms Improve Student Behavior,
Attendance, and Achievement?

Elisabetta Gentile1
University of Houston
Scott A. Imberman1
University of Houston
March 4, 2009

March 4, 2009
Abstract: Concerns about safety in urban schools has led many school districts to require uniforms for their students.
However, we know very little about what impact school uniforms have had on the educational environment. In this paper we
use a unique dataset to assess how uniform adoption affects student achievement and behavior in a large urban school
district in the southwest. Since each school in the district could decide independently about whether or not to adopt
uniforms, we are able to use variation across schools and over time to identify the effects of uniforms. Using student and
school fixed-effects along with school-specific linear time trends to address selection of students and schools into uniform
adoption, we find that uniforms had little impact on student outcomes in elementary grades but provided modest
improvements in language scores and attendance rates in middle and high school grades. These effects appear to be
concentrated in female students.

As urban schools have become more difficult to manage, administrators have increasingly turned to uniforms as part of a
strategy to maintain student safety and control over schools. In 1996, the US Department of Education found that only three
percent of schools required uniforms. However, in 2000, a survey of 775 principals by the National Association of
Elementary School Principals found that 21% of schools had uniform policies, though it did not specify whether they were
required. Today, many large school districts have some schools that require students to wear uniforms. Most notably
Philadelphia public schools require all students to wear uniforms while Long Beach, California and Dallas requires uniforms
in pre-secondary grades. In addition, the nation's largest school district, New York City, requires uniforms in elementary
grades. Other large school districts, including Miami-Dade, Houston, Chicago, and Boston, allow schools to require

Despite the large growth in the use of uniforms in public schools, there is very little
empirical research that has been done to assess their effectiveness. Only a handful of papers have tried to assess the
effects of uniforms on student outcomes. this is despite the evidence that there is a substantial correlation between
discipline, which uniforms would most likely affect, and achievement.

First of all, as pointed out by Bodine (2003), much of the Brunsma and Rockquemore results are based on Catholic schools
and thus may not be reflective of uniforms in public schools. Second, even if they had a large number of public school
students in their sample, Brunsma and Rockquemore's results would still be biased due to selection of students into schools
with uniforms and schools deciding to require uniforms based on previous discipline problems. For example, parents may
send their children to schools with uniforms in response to improved discipline. If these parents respond this way because
they have misbehaving children, this would bias the uniform impact downwards. At the school level, the potential for
selection may be even larger since
schools and districts do not choose whether to require uniforms randomly. In fact, it is likely that schools and districts that
choose to require uniforms already have a substantial problem with student behavior. Thus, on average, schools with
uniforms will have more behavioral problems and lower test scores than schools without, before we account for the impact of
uniforms themselves on these outcomes. In this case, the results in Brunsma and Rockquefort will again be biased
downwards, and they will underestimate the impacts of uniforms.

The sparseness and the identification problems of the prior literature thus leave us with

a very unclear picture of how uniforms affect student outcomes. We seek to address this gap in the literature in this paper by
studying uniform adoption in a large urban school district in the southwest (LUSD-SW). In the early 1990's schools in LUSD-
SW began to require uniforms. Each school was permitted to decide on its own whether or not and when to adopt uniforms.
Since our data covers time periods before and after uniform adoption for many schools we are able to utilize a combination
of student _
 trends to identify the effect of uniforms on student outcomes. We found that uniforms appear to have little effect on test
scores, attendance, or disciplinary infractions for elementary (grades 1 - 5) students. For middle and high school (grades 6 -
12) students, we also found improvements in attendance rates. These effects both primarily occur in female students.
Disciplinary infractions increase, but it is unclear whether this is due to the uniforms themselves, uniform violations, or
increased enforcement. Thus, overall it appears that uniforms have a small but positive impact on student outcomes in
higher grades.

LUSD has permitted its schools to require students to wear uniforms since at least 19923. Initially, only a handful of schools
required uniforms. However, as shown in Figure 1, uniform adoption grew substantially over the following 13 years. Of
schools that responded to our survey of uniform policies, which we describe in more detail below, only 10% required
uniforms in 1993. By 2006, 82% of these schools and 80% of students in these schools had required uniforms. Schools vary
considerably in how they define their uniforms. Schools can require special shirt colors and styles and pant styles. In 2008
almost all schools that required uniforms specified between 1 and 3 colors for shirts, and casual or denim pants in khaki or
navy colors. Some schools also required polo style shirts. Only a handful of schools require students to purchase specific
shirts with a school logos. Some middle and high schools also required different grades to wear specific colors. Disobeying a
mandatory uniform policy is considered a level II" disciplinary infraction.

In this paper we utilize two sources of data from a large urban school district in the southwest. The first dataset includes
administrative records for students in LUSD from 1993 through 2006. This data includes student demographics, test scores,
disciplinary records and attendance records for every student in LUSD. Testing data include students' scaled scores on the
Standford Achievement Test which we standardized within grade and year and is available starting in 19984. Discipline data
includes any infraction that results in an in-school suspension or more severe punishment. Attendance records include the
attendance rate for each student.

Before moving to the main results, we can get a sense of the potential uniform impact in Figure 2. This figure shows test
scores for math, reading, and language along with attendance rates and disciplinary infractions both before and after
uniform adoption. The graphs show that uniforms may generate substantial improvements in all measures. Prior to uniform
adoption both test scores and discipline are relatively at at approximately -0.15 standard deviations and 0.45 infractions,
respectively. After uniform adoption (year 0) test scores start trending upwards, reaching 0.07 standard deviations in six
years. Disciplinary infractions also trend downwards, albeit after a delay of two years to 0.34 infractions per student, per
year. The only measure showing a clear trend prior to adoption is attendance rates, which increase in the two years before
adoption and then continue thereafter. Five years prior to adoption attendance rates average 93.8% and rise to 95.6% _ve
years after adoption. The steep trend in attendance rates highlight the need to include school-specific time trends in our
analysis so that we may account for any pre-existing trends that lead to uniform adoption.


Overall, we find that uniforms appear to have a moderately positive impact on students in middle and high school and little
impact on elementary students. Students in middle and high school grades who are required to wear uniforms show
improvements in scores on language exams of between 0.02 and 0.04 standard deviations and improvements in attendance
rates of between 0.2 and 0.4 percentage points. These improvements appear to be strong for female students. For all other
outcomes we cannot definitively bound the estimates away from zero using both gains and levels models. Nonetheless, we
do see increases in disciplinary infractions in levels models that are concentrated in boys and some small drops in Hispanic
reading scores. It is possible that the increase in disciplinary infractions are due to uniform violations or increased
enforcement, although the lack of a similar increase for girls suggest that the latter is unlikely.

    4. http://atmizzou.missouri.edu/novdec04/SchoolUniforms.htm

    5. http://712educators.about.com/cs/schoolviolence/a/uniforms_2.htm

Effectiveness of School Uniforms

There are two types of evidence to look at on the issue of effectiveness. One is a statistical study produced by the University
of Notre Dame, and the other is the actual words and beliefs of school officials who have implemented school uniforms.

Notre Dame's Department of Sociology produced a study in 1998 concerning school uniforms. Their findings using 10th
grade students showed that uniforms have no direct effect on "substance abuse, behavioral problems or attendance."

(Brunsma, 1) It also claimed a negative effect on student achievements for those students considered 'pro-school'.
(Brunsma, 1)

With that said, we now turn to the less scientific words and thoughts of administrators in schools that have implemented
uniform policies. Note that all of the following were from middle schools. In Long Beach, officials found that the year after
their mandatory program with parental opt-out was implemented, overall school crime decreased by 36%. In Seattle,
Washington, which has a mandatory policy with an opt-out saw a decrease in truancy and tardies. They had also not had a
reported incident of theft. As a final example from Baltimore, Maryland, Rhonda Thompson, an official from a middle school
that has a voluntary policy noticed a "sense of seriousness about work." Whether any of these results can be directly linked
to school uniforms is hard to say. However, it can be said that something has changed to make the officials take notice. We
can not discount the coincidence of school uniforms with these changes either. If you would like more information about
schools that have implemented uniform policies, see the Department of Education's Manual on School Uniforms.

Updates on Legislation, Budget, and Activities

                                                 Manual on School Uniforms

School Uniforms: Where They Are and Why They Work

A safe and disciplined learning environment is the first requirement of a good school. Young people who are safe and
secure, who learn basic American values and the essentials of good citizenship, are better students. In response to growing
levels of violence in our schools, many parents, teachers, and school officials have come to see school uniforms as one
positive and creative way to reduce discipline problems and increase school safety.

They observed that the adoption of school uniform policies can promote school safety, improve discipline, and enhance the
learning environment. The potential benefits of school uniforms include:

        decreasing violence and theft -- even life-threatening situations -- among students over designer clothing or
         expensive sneakers;
        helping prevent gang members from wearing gang colors and insignia at school;
        instilling students with discipline;
        helping parents and students resist peer pressure;
        helping students concentrate on their school work; and
        helping school officials recognize intruders who come to the school.

As a result, many local communities are deciding to adopt school uniform policies as part of an overall program to improve
school safety and discipline. California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Utah and
Virginia have enacted school uniform regulations. Many large public school systems -- including Baltimore, Cincinnati,
Dayton, Detroit, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Miami, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Phoenix, Seattle and St.
Louis -- have schools with either voluntary or mandatory uniform policies, mostly in elementary and middle schools. In
addition, many private and parochial schools have required uniforms for a number of years. Still other schools have

implemented dress codes to encourage a safe environment by, for example, prohibiting clothes with certain language or
gang colors.

Users' Guide to Adopting a School Uniform Policy

The decision whether to adopt a uniform policy is made by states, local school districts, and schools. For uniforms to be a
success, as with all other school initiatives, parents must be involved. The following information is provided to assist parents,
teachers, and school leaders in determining whether to adopt a school uniform policy.

    1. Get parents involved from the beginning

         Parental support of a uniform policy is critical for success. Indeed, the strongest push for school uniforms in recent
         years has come from parent groups who want better discipline in their children's schools. Parent groups have
         actively lobbied schools to create uniform policies and have often led school task forces that have drawn up
         uniform guidelines. Many schools that have successfully created a uniform policy survey parents first to gauge
         support for school uniform requirements and then seek parental input in designing the uniform. Parent support is
         also essential in encouraging students to wear the uniform.

    2. Protect students' religious expression

         A school uniform policy must accommodate students whose religious beliefs are substantially burdened by a
         uniform requirement. As U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley stated in Religious Expression in Public
         Schools, a guide he sent to superintendents throughout the nation on August 10, 1995:

                  Students may display religious messages on items of clothing to the same extent that they are permitted
                  to display other comparable messages. Religious messages may not be singled out for suppression, but
                  rather are subject to the same rules as generally apply to comparable messages. When wearing particular
                  attire, such as yarmulkes and head scarves, during the school day is part of students' religious practice,
                  under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act schools generally may not prohibit the wearing of such

    3. Protect students' other rights of expression

         A uniform policy may not prohibit students from wearing or displaying expressive items -- for example, a button that
         supports a political candidate - so long as such items do not independently contribute to disruption by substantially
         interfering with discipline or with the rights of others. Thus, for example, a uniform policy may prohibit students from
         wearing a button bearing a gang insignia. A uniform policy may also prohibit items that undermine the integrity of
         the uniform, notwithstanding their expressive nature, such as a sweatshirt that bears a political message but also
         covers or replaces the type of shirt required by the uniform policy.

    4. Determine whether to have a voluntary or mandatory school uniform policy

         Some schools have adopted wholly voluntary school uniform policies which permit students freely to choose
         whether and under what circumstances they will wear the school uniform. Alternatively, some schools have
         determined that it is both warranted and more effective to adopt a mandatory uniform policy.

    5. When a mandatory school uniform policy is adopted, determine whether to have an "opt out" provision

         In most cases, school districts with mandatory policies allow students, normally with parental consent, to "opt out"
         of the school uniform requirements.

           Some schools have determined, however, that a mandatory policy with no "opt out" provision is necessary to
           address a disruptive atmosphere. A Phoenix, Arizona school, for example, adopted a mandatory policy requiring
           students to wear school uniforms, or in the alternative attend another public school. That Phoenix school uniform
           policy was recently upheld by a state trial court in Arizona. Note that in the absence of a finding that disruption of
           the learning environment has reached a point that other lesser measures have been or would be ineffective, a
           mandatory school uniform policy without an "opt out" provision could be vulnerable to legal challenge.

    6. Do not require students to wear a message

           Schools should not impose a form of expression on students by requiring them to wear uniforms bearing a
           substantive message, such as a political message.

    7. Assist families that need financial help

           In many cases, school uniforms are less expensive than the clothing that students typically wear to school.
           Nonetheless, the cost of purchasing a uniform may be a burden on some families. School districts with uniform
           policies should make provisions for students whose families are unable to afford uniforms. Many have done so.
           Examples of the types of assistance include: (a) the school district provides uniforms to students who cannot afford
           to purchase them; (b) community and business leaders provide uniforms or contribute financial support for
           uniforms; (c) school parents work together to make uniforms available for economically disadvantaged students;
           and (d) used uniforms from graduates are made available to incoming students.

    8. Treat school uniforms as part of an overall safety program

           Uniforms by themselves cannot solve all of the problems of school discipline, but they can be one positive
           contributing factor to discipline and safety. Other initiatives that many schools have used in conjunction with
           uniforms to address specific problems in their community include aggressive truancy reduction initiatives, drug
           prevention efforts, student-athlete drug testing, community efforts to limit gangs, a zero tolerance policy for
           weapons, character education classes, and conflict resolution programs. Working with parents, teachers, students,
           and principals can make a uniform policy part of a strong overall safety program, one that is broadly supported in
           the community.

Model School Uniform Policies

States and local school districts must decide how they will ensure a safe and disciplined learning environment. Below are
some examples of school districts that have adopted school uniforms as part of their strategy.

Long Beach, California

Type:               Uniforms are mandatory in all elementary and
                                   middle schools. Each school in the district
                                   determines the uniform its students will wear.

Opt-out:            Yes, with parental consent

Size of program:        58,500 elementary and middle school students

Implementation date: 1994
Support for disadvantaged students: Each school must develop an assistance plan for families that cannot afford to buy
uniforms. In most cases, graduating students either donate or sell used uniforms to needy families.

Results: District officials found that in the year following implementation of the school uniform policy, overall school crime
decreased 36 percent, fights decreased 51 percent, sex offenses decreased 74 percent, weapons offenses decreased 50
percent, assault and battery offenses decreased 34 percent, and vandalism decreased 18 percent. Fewer than one percent
of the students have elected to opt out of the uniform policy.

Dick Van Der Laan of the Long Beach Unified School District explained, "We can't attribute the improvement exclusively to
school uniforms, but we think it's more than coincidental." According to Long Beach police chief William Ellis, "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."

Seattle, Washington

Type:              Mandatory uniform policy at South Shore Middle School

Opt-out:           Yes, with parental consent. Students who opt out
                                   must attend another middle school in the district.

Size of program:      900 middle school students

Implementation date: 1995
Support for disadvantaged students: South Shore works with local businesses that contribute financial support to the
uniform program. In addition, the administration at South Shore found that the average cost of clothing a child in a school
with a prescribed wardrobe is less than in schools without such a program, sometimes 80 percent less. School officials
believe that durability, reusability and year-to-year consistency also increase the economy of the school's plan.

Results: The principal of South Shore, Dr. John German, reports that "this year the demeanor in the school has improved
98 percent, truancy and tardies are down, and we have not had one reported incident of theft." Dr. German explains that he
began the uniform program because his students were "draggin', saggin' and laggin'. I needed to keep them on an academic
focus. My kids were really into what others were wearing." Only five students have elected to attend another public school.

Richmond, Virginia

Type:              Voluntary uniform policy at Maymont Elementary
                                    School for the Arts and Humanities

Opt-out:           Uniforms are voluntary.

Size of program:      262 elementary school students

Implementation date: 1994
Support for disadvantaged students>: Responding to parent concerns about the cost of uniforms, the school sought
community financial support for the uniform program. Largely as a result of financial donations from businesses and other
community leaders, the percentage of students wearing uniforms rose from 30 percent in 1994-95, the first year of the
program, to 85 percent during the current year.

Results: Maymont principal Sylvia Richardson identifies many benefits of the uniform program, including improved behavior,
an increase in attendance rates and higher student achievement.

Kansas City, Missouri

Type:              Mandatory uniform policy at George Washington
                                   Carver Elementary School

Opt-out:            None. Carver is a magnet school to which parents
                                   and students apply knowing about the uniform

Size of program:       320 elementary school students

Implementation date: 1990
Support for disadvantaged students: Students receive their uniforms at no cost to them. The state and school district pay
for the uniforms primarily with magnet school funding.

Results: Philomina Harshaw, the principal for all six years that Carver has had uniforms, observed a new sense of calmness
throughout the school after students began wearing uniforms. "The children feel good about themselves as school uniforms
build a sense of pride. It forces adults to know a child."

Memphis, Tennessee

Type:               Voluntary uniform policy at Douglas
                                     Elementary School

Opt-out:            Uniforms are voluntary.

Size of program:       532 elementary school students

Implementation date: 1993
Support for disadvantaged students: Douglas has business partners in Memphis that have contributed financial support
to purchase uniforms for needy families.

Results: According to Guidance Counselor Sharon Carter, "The tone of the school is different. There's not the
competitiveness, especially in grades, 4, 5, and 6, about who's wearing what." Ninety percent of the students have elected
to wear uniforms on school uniform days, Monday through Thursday. Fridays are "casual" days during which none of the
students wear uniforms.

Baltimore, Maryland

Type:               Voluntary uniform policy at Mt. Royal
                                     Elementary/Middle School

Opt-out:            Uniforms are voluntary.

Size of program:       950 elementary and middle school students

Implementation date: 1989
Support for disadvantaged students: Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle School keeps a store of uniforms that are provided
free to students who cannot afford the $35.00 to purchase them. Ninety-eight percent of graduating eighth graders donate
their uniforms to the school.

Results: According to Mt. Royal's assistant principal, Rhonda Thompson, the uniform policy "has enhanced the tone and
climate of our building. It brings about a sense of seriousness about work." All of the students have elected to participate in
the uniform program.

Norfolk, Virginia

Type:              Mandatory uniform policy at Ruffner Middle School

Opt-out:           None. Students who come to school without a
                                 uniform are subject to in-school detention.

Size of program:      977 middle school students

Implementation date: 1995
Support for disadvantaged students: The school provides uniforms for students who cannot afford them.

Results: Using U.S. Department of Education software to track discipline data, Ruffner has noted improvements in students'
behavior. Leaving class without permission is down 47 percent, throwing objects is down 68 percent and fighting has
decreased by 38 percent. Staff attribute these changes in part to the uniform code.

Phoenix, Arizona

Type:              Mandatory uniform policy at Phoenix
                                   Preparatory Academy

Opt-out:           Yes, with parental consent. Students who opt
                                   out must attend another middle school in the

Size of program:      1,174 middle school students

Implementation date: 1995
Support for disadvantaged students: A grant from a local foundation covers the $25 to $30 cost of uniforms for families
that cannot afford to buy them.

Results: According to the principal, Ramon Leyba, "The main result is an overall improvement in the school climate and a
greater focus on positive behavior. A big portion of that is from uniforms."

For More Information

If you have questions about school programs with uniforms, please call the U.S. Department of Education Safe and Drug
Free Schools office at 1-800-624-0100.

Prepared by the U.S. Department of Education in consultation with local communities and the U.S. Department of Justice.

School Uniforms: Pros and Cons

by Ann Svensen

There is something comforting about schoolchildren dressed in pleats and plaid. Maybe it reminds us of our own childhood,
or conjures up thoughts of order and safety. Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure -- school uniforms are getting a lot of
wear these days.

From California to Boston, some of the nation's largest school districts now have uniform policies. In New York City alone,
more than half a million elementary-school students will be wearing them by next fall.

The Case for Uniforms
No long-term, formal studies have been done on the effectiveness of school uniforms, but many schools have kept their own

informal statistics. California's Long Beach Unified School District's records are probably cited most often. This urban district
adopted a mandatory uniform policy in 1994. Since then, school crime has dropped by 76 percent, while attendance has
reached an all-time high.

If You're a Skeptic, Get in Line
But Long Beach's glowing statistics have been met with skepticism. Some education experts say that no school can prove
that uniforms alone cause such dramatic reductions in crime. Other detractors see uniform policies as a violation of students'
rights to free expression, and nothing more than a Band-Aid that fails to address the real causes of youth violence.

Pros and Cons
Dr. Alan Hilfer, senior psychologist in the Children's and Adolescent Unit at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn says,
"Uniforms do eliminate competition, pressure, and assaults perpetrated by older kids on younger kids for their sneakers and
other possessions. They also allow some kids to focus better, especially in the lower grades." But Dr. Hilfer says there is a
downside: "Clothes are a source of expression for children, and as kids get older, they become increasingly resentful of

From the Trenches
Anthony Poet, assistant principal at the Pueblo Del Sol Middle School in Arizona, recently instituted a uniform policy in his
school. He's the first to agree that kids don't like uniforms. But he noticed that the same kids who said they hated the policy
also said they're glad to have it. One student confirms, "Uniforms make the school safer, but I don't like them."

Since his school began requiring uniforms, Poet has documented a remarkable drop in discipline problems. But until a long-
term study is done, he says he can't be sure whether it's the uniforms or the act of instituting the policy that's made the
difference. Dr. Hilfer explains: "Discipline problems may be decreasing in schools with uniforms because the schools (and
the parents) have begun taking the issue of discipline more seriously."

Are Uniforms Right for Your District?
According to Dr. Hilfer, strict dress codes are not for everybody. "Some schools thrive on permissiveness and individuality,
while others have to be more restrictive to contain a restless student body." Before making the uniform decision, he
suggests that schools carefully consider their unique populations; what kind of message they want to send; and whether or
not they think their kids will go for it. Dr. Hilfer warns, "By instituting a uniform policy, schools are taking away kids'
individuality -- schools need to decide if that sacrifice is worth making."


Reviewing School Uniforms

by Carleton Kendrick Ed.M., LCSW

                      It's time for parents to buy their kids' back-to-school clothes. I wonder how many parents have bought
                      the idea that sending their children to school in mandated uniforms will provide them a safer, better

                      The Benefits
                      According to proponents of school uniforms, a wealth of potential benefits will follow their adoption:
                      socioeconomic equalization, reduction in student violence and theft (related to clothing), increased
                      attendance, restriction of gang activity, better identification of school intruders, reduction of peer
                      pressure, improved ability to focus in class, and better grades

Positively Presidential
President Clinton touted the benefits of uniforms in a 1996 State of the Union address and ordered the distribution of school
uniform implementation manuals to every school district in the nation. Since then, many more school districts have jumped
on the uniform bandwagon. This is an educational "reform" that has gained considerable momentum and support.

Does it Really Work
This "reform movement" is wrong-minded at its core. It's yet another overly simplistic, very visible response to the crises
gripping our public educational system. Uniform proponents often refer to studies they say prove school uniforms have
improved school safety and student academic achievement. I reviewed these studies and anecdotal accounts and found
them to be flawed.

Let's examine the most often cited pro-uniform study in Long Beach, California. Data was collected over the course of the
1993-94 school year in 56 elementary and 14 middle schools. Dramatic reductions in areas like assaults, vandalism, theft,
and drug use were documented and attributed solely to these schools' changing to a mandated school uniform policy.

Nowhere in this study is there an assessment of why these reductions occurred or what underlying variables influenced
these behavioral changes. During this transition year to school uniforms, the Long Beach school district also implemented
other significant policy and practices changes. A research study that does not take all factors into account cannot be
considered scientifically valid.

Although most uniform policies have been implemented in elementary and middle schools, the preponderance of serious
public school violence and discipline problems occur in high school. Because wearing uniforms has supposedly created a
better educational climate in relatively compliant, problem-free grades (K-8) does not mean they will similarly affect the more
troubled high school populations. This is wishful thinking and a leap of faith.

I've Got to be Me
Beyond the obvious usurpation of parents' and students' rights to make decisions about clothing, forcing all kids into
identical uniforms inhibits their need to express their individualism. Even preschoolers need to be granted some autonomy
and choice regarding the clothes they wear. As kids grow older, the power to choose how they physically present
themselves in everyday life becomes more crucial to their sense of independence and self-confidence. Would you have
wanted to wear a uniform as a teenager?

Children should be allowed and encouraged to express their individuality in school as well as the larger society. Grunge, hip-
hop, gothic, J.Crew. They're all styles of dressing - each proclaiming its own sub-culture's codes and values. Forbidding
adolescents to express themselves through clothing and hairstyles prevents a healthy transition to independence and
freedom from their parents and other adults.

The stylish, personalized "uniforms" kids choose allow them to assert their uniqueness and power in a world controlled by
adults. We should understand and appreciate these developmental needs.



This Education World article answers the questions: “Does requiring students to wear uniforms directly affect school
environment and student achievement, or is it the equivalent of painting the walls of a crumbling building -- merely
cosmetic? What does the research say? What do students, teachers, and parents say?” Two parents are quoted and
they are on the “dislike” team for uniforms. A teacher also says that she was anti-uniform to begin with because it’s just
one more thing that she has to police, but she saw a “magical” change in her students—they were more mild-mannered and

Long beach, California is a commonly cited school system that implemented a uniform policy in 1994. Studies on the school
system have records of a drop in suspensions, assaults, thefts, vandalism, and weapon and drug violations, along with an
increase in attendance. Chicago, Birmingham, and Houston have made claims that gang violence, weapon and drug
incidents, or violent crime has decreased after adopting uniforms. Miami-Dade County schools, however, “found that fights
nearly doubled at their middle schools after the school district adopted a uniform policy.”

 This article also cites the Brunsma and Rockquemore 1998 study. It says that wearing uniforms have no direct affect on
“substance abuse, behavioral problems or school attendance.” "Uniform policies may indirectly affect school environment
and student outcomes by providing a visible and public symbol of commitment to school improvement and reform," Brunsma
told Education World. "They are not the sole factor responsible for the numerous behavioral and academic outcomes
attributed to them."

Education World continues, “Schools that include, among other initiatives, see-through plastic or mesh book bags, metal
detectors, aggressive truancy-reduction initiatives, drug-prevention efforts, student and/or athlete drug testing, community
efforts to limit gangs, a zero-tolerance policy for weapons, character education classes, and conflict resolution proposals --
plus the uniform initiative -- frequently do improve school discipline and safety.”


 1.    http://www.woio.com/Global/story.asp?S=4356460&nav=menu68_2

This is a short article that tells about six big-city Ohio school systems that implemented a uniform policy. Academic
performance was unchanged, but attendance, behavior and graduation rates were improved. Graduation rate improved
11% in the uniformed schools and dropped 4.6% in “non-uniform” schools. Attendance rates increased on average at 3.5%
in four of the” uniformed” schools, and dropped in two of the “uniformed” schools. Expulsion rates decreased in the
“uniformed” schools on the years that uniforms were required.


 2.    http://www.educationbug.org/a/public-school-uniform-statistics.html

Statistics on school uniforms are shown, like how many schools have implemented them, etc. Most notably are the exact
amount crime dropped in Long Beach:

           A case study of the effects of adopting school uniforms in Long Beach, CA which appeared in Psychology Today
          in September, 1999, reported the following effects from the switch to uniforms in 1995:

              o Overall, the crime rate dropped by 91%

              o School suspensions dropped by 90%

              o Sex offenses were reduced by 96%

              o Incidents of vandalism went down 69%

          Also reporting on the Long Beach Unified School District, an Education Week article in 1998 reported that since
          1994, assaults in grades Kindergarten through 8 had decreased by 85%.


The public school uniform debate has been an issue for educators, parents, and students for years. This article has
information on the pros and cons of public school uniform debates from the educators, parents, and students view.

The question of what students should wear to school rouses strong feelings on both sides. Here are some arguments for
and against the use of school uniforms.

While school uniforms are typically found in private schools, it may have only been in 1987 that the first public school -
Cherry Hill Elementary in Baltimore, MD - instituted a school uniform policy. Then, in 1994, the Long Beach Unified School
District in California adopted a mandatory uniform policy in some of its schools, making it the first urban district to do so.
Though public school uniform use is not widespread, it is growing.

Reasons For and Against School Uniforms

Educators, parents, and students site many reasons in favor of school uniforms:

           School administrators face a complicated task setting a dress code: with inappropriate coverage (for example,
          strapless, halter, and midriff tops and too-short skirts and shorts) and inappropriate insignia (for example, slogans
          for alcohol and cigarettes and clothing with vulgar language or representing otherwise objectionable connections,
          such as gang membership), it may be easier to have a uniform than to detail and enforce independently chosen

          Dress code aside, the interest in fashion and fad combined with peer pressure can lead to pressure to spend
          money that some families can ill afford: school uniforms refocus this issue.

          Wearing of school uniforms prevents the formation of dress-identified cliques

          The wearing of school uniforms emphasizes membership and group identity, fostering a community spirit.

          Crimes involving stealing items of apparel are unlikely to be perpetrated if everyone’s apparel is identical.

          Because students can be easily identified, intruders in the school setting can be more readily identified and
          students on field trips are more easily accounted for.

          The wearing of school uniforms helps students to realize that a person’s unique gifts and personality traits go
          deeper than their apparel and aren’t diminished by uniform dress.

Other educators, parents, and students are opposed to school uniforms and give reasons like the following:

          Uniforms interfere with students’ rights for self-expression.

          Uniforms are an unnecessary expense and can create an economic hardship themselves.

          Uniforms are an unnecessary exertion of power by administrators who don’t know how to exercise responsible

          The wearing of uniforms does not prevent the formation of cliques or gangs.

          The wearing of uniforms does not prevent students from expressing unpopular or inappropriate views in other

          School uniforms can be ugly and/or unflattering, and having to wear something unattractive or unflattering is not
          good for students’ self-image.

          The wearing of uniforms my delay or prevent students from having to learn how to get alongside of people whose
          personal taste differs markedly from their own and which they may find unappealing.

          The wearing of school uniforms may give students the impression that conformity is the way to prevent conflict,
          and this is not an appropriate message for schools to send.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), which includes middle level principals, has not taken an
official stand on school uniforms, leaving it to be decided school-by-school.

Public School Uniforms Sources:




I addressed the following questions in an email to various school systems:
         1. When was the uniform policy implemented?
         2. Do students wear exact uniforms or is it a dress code or somewhere in between?
         3. How has having uniforms affected attendance, academic performance, and discipline? (And are there any
         official studies about the effects on these 3 areas?)

          4. What have been the challenges? Pros? Cons?

          5. What is working and what is not working (advice to a school system that might be implementing a similar

          6. Any other comments? Gut feelings about uniforms?

I have sent out emails to NC school systems (Hickory, Kannapolis and Craven) and one TN school system (Kingsport). I
emailed principals and assistant principals from each system and from elementary, middle and high schools. I have also left
messages at the High schools in these districts. I have not heard back.
Here is the response I received from the Director of Community Relations in the Indianapolis Public School District, Mary
Louise Bewley:
 I'm happy to help in whatever ways possible. Here's what I know:
 1. IPS implemented our uniform policy at the beginning of the 2007-08 school year.
 2. The best way to describe our policy is "standard dress code." We often talk about school uniforms, but that brings to mind
tartan skirts and parochial school uniforms. Our dress code is generally polo shirts and non-denim pants.
 3. While we don't have any official data, anecdotal evidence provided by teachers indicates fewer bullying incidents (kids
aren't harassing each other over their style of clothing) based on fewer office referrals and less time taken by teachers to
calm students down at the beginning of class periods.
 4. Pros: Girls aren't walking up stairs with high slits in their skirts showing off their goodies, fewer boys are sagging, parents
share that it is cheaper and easier to clothe their children, kids say they don't take forever getting ready for school in the
mornings, closer collaboration between the school district and the county trustees' offices.
Cons: We are a high poverty school district, so we need the support of the county trustees' offices to pull this off. The district
solicits donations from community groups to provide funding so that we can provide uniforms to students whose parents can
show financial need. Unfortunately, that money often runs short by second semester, making it difficult to help families who
move into our district from out of state and are unaware of our dress code. The trustees' offices provide support only during
first semester.

 5. The toughest year for implementation was of course the first year. I strongly recommend seeking community input to
determine what type of clothing Asheville finds appropriate school wear. Selecting simple clothing (solid-colored shirts with
sleeves and collars) makes it possible for parents to purchase a variety of clothing, not just polos. That allows parents to find
affordable clothing at Goodwill, Target, or wherever they are comfortable shopping. The key is accessibility of the clothing.
We distribute a four-color brochure at the beginning of each school year to all homes to ensure all students and parents are
aware of the dress code (you can find this info on our website at www.ips.k12.in.us). That helps to keep people from
complaining that they didn't know about the dress code.
 I think going to the dress code has been a tremendously positive step for IPS. In the past, adults judged our students as
"thugs" because of their hip-hop clothing style. The dress code helps people just see kids. It's been great to get rid of the
negative perception of our students.
Let me know if I can be of further help.
Mary Louise Bewley | Director
Office of School and Community Relations
Indianapolis Public Schools
120 E. Walnut St., Room 114 | Indianapolis, IN 46204
t. 317-226-4649| f. 317-226-4498 | bewleym@ips.k12.in.us

My Own Two Cents
Based on my research, I think that uniforms can be a positive change for schools if not taken to the extreme. I think the best
option is a dress code, and although students may dislike uniforms in the higher grades, it is good practice for entering the
workforce. In most professional settings, a dress code is assumed.

     There are at least three studies that cite positive changes (among attendance, behavior and academic performance),
         and one that cites no change or negative changes. Most involved researchers agree that uniforms are probably
         not the sole reason for any changes, but that they could be a contributing factor. Uniforms (possibly along with
         other policy changes) appear to improve attendance and behavior and have less of an effect on academic


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