To the Editor:
Re: Your research article “Uniform Effects?” (On Assignment, Jan. 12, 2005):
Having spent a great deal of time in Catholic education and research, I find the following statement by Robert E. Blau to be without merit: “Clothing is an expression in and of itself. When everyone looks the same, they start acting the same, and you lose your sense of individuality.”
Public schools are charged with the responsibility of educating students and maintaining an effective and orderly environment conducive to learning. Dress codes have been successfully used throughout the United States to promote school safety and also serve to enhance the learning environment of schools. Dress codes and school uniforms are not unique to private schools. For more than 20 years, public schools have recognized the benefits of dress codes and/or school uniforms in all levels of education.
In Phoenix Elementary School District No. 1 v. Green, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld in 1997 a mandatory school uniform policy. Testimony was presented at trial that the uniform policy reduced clothing distractions, increased campus safety, improved school spirit, leveled socioeconomic barriers, ensured that students dressed appropriately, and reduced the staff and faculty time required to enforce the dress code. The court concluded that the dress code was reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical purposes, including promoting a conducive learning environment and securing campus safety.
There are so many ways for children to express their individuality in today’s world. Parents of children who attend schools with clear dress codes find relief in knowing that not only may clothing costs decrease, but their child also will be in a safer learning environment.
The right to an environment in which all children can benefit, without the pressures of having the “right” clothing, should be respected.
Catholic School Administrators
Association of New York State
A version of this article appeared in the March 02, 2005 edition of Education Week as School Uniforms Reduce Distractions, Aid Safety