A Uniform Look

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Title: A Uniform Look
Authors: Yasmine L. Konheim-Kalkstein
Source: American School Board Journal, Aug. 2006, Vol. 193, No. 8, pp. 24-27
Document Type: Journal Article
Database: SIRS
.A Uniform Look
When students dress alike, proponents say, the school climate may be improved

By Yasmine L. Konheim-Kalkstein

Since the 1990s, the practice of having public school students wear uniforms--like their private school peers--has been credited with some amazing results. School uniforms, proponents have said, can lead to improved discipline and classroom behavior, increased school attendance, respect for teachers, better school performance, higher student self-esteem and confidence, lower clothing costs, promotion of group spirit,
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Similarly, in a 2003 Education and Urban Society article, Kathleen Wade and Mary Stafford reported that teachers at schools with uniforms perceived lower levels of gang presence than teachers at schools with no uniforms. This difference was significant, despite the fact that the uniform schools were in areas with slightly higher numbers of gang-related crimes. However, students in both types of schools perceived gang presence at the same level. Students may see other signs besides clothing that hint of gang activity.

Clothing has caused other school conflicts as well. After introducing uniforms, the Birmingham, Ala. schools reported a drop in weapon and drug incidents, and Houston schools noted a decrease in violent crime. Interestingly, however, Miami-Dade counties report that fights nearly doubled at their middle schools after schools adopted a uniform policy.

How valid are the findings linking school uniforms to decreased violence? There is substantial criticism on that point. In many of these school districts, other changes in policy were being promoted at the same time--such as having more teachers patrolling the hallways. These additional variables confuse the issue and must be controlled for statistically in the research before drawing conclusions.

Improving School Climate

Obviously, less violence in schools translates to a better school climate, another area
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