Our School District Canceled Uniforms and I Am For It!

by - January 14, 2021

Last month, our school board voted to end uniforms and implement a dress code instead.

While the middle-of-the-year decision meant another round of school shopping, I couldn't have been more excited to say goodbye to boring school clothes.

When I told Alexis that she would get to wear her regular clothes to school after Christmas break, she was thrilled. Her response was, "Now I won't have to wear the same thing a million times over and over."

Amen, kid.

I've never been a fan of school uniforms. Granted, I was never subjected to the horror of having to dress like everyone else, but my younger brother got caught in the net in middle school so I do have prior experience by proxy.

There is a lot of reasoning behind the implementation of uniforms in schools, including but not limited to: safer learning environment, fewer instances of bullying, and more focused students.

On the flip side, school uniforms promote conformity over individuality, do not improve academic success, and often times emphasize socioeconomic differences between students. In fact, the study most often cited in promotion of implementing a school uniform policy is flawed. Additionally, there is no evidence to back up the claim that uniforms reduce bullying incidents. The opposite, in fact, has been found to be true in many schools. (You can read more about the findings here.)

Perhaps the most overstated and overexaggerated claim in defense of school uniforms is that it saves parents money. That is complete and total bullshit...unless you are the type of parent who expects their child(ren) to wear their uniforms even on non-school days. Hint: I'm not. So that means two separate wardrobes for my child and more strain on my wallet.

Fun fact: Americans spend about $1 billion on school uniforms every year.

Aside from the fact that I'm spending money that could be better spent on other things, Alexis absolutely hated her uniforms. Her personality is so much bigger than a solid-colored shirt worn over blue or khaki bottoms. She has strong opinions on what she wears, and for the last year and a half she's only been able to explore her burgeoning personal style on days she isn't in school. And because I can't justify spending money on clothes that she'll only wear once or twice before hitting a growth spurt, she hasn't had access to much more than play clothes.

I had the luxury of developing my personal fashion sense as a pre-teen through young adulthood. Being forced to wear a uniform five out of seven days a week for a majority of all those years would have severely hampered that process. And that's not just my personal opinion. According to research, denying children and teens the chance to make their own choices about their appearance could delay their transition into adulthood.

When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Consider young adults just entering the work force. If they've only ever worn a uniform, they may struggle to dress appropriately. Because a uniform doesn't give them any leeway to experiment. There's a fine line when it comes to incorporating personal style into appropriate dressing. A school dress code does a much better job of helping kids find that line by setting boundaries and expectations without squashing their individuality.

So now I have the chance to teach Alexis how to dress not only for herself but also in a way that's appropriate. So hopefully when she leaves the nest, she'll be rooted in a sense of self and have minimal fashion mishaps.

I want to hear from you! Does your child wear a uniform to school? What are your thoughts on uniforms versus dress code?

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