The Issue of Uniforms
Many public-school and private-school students are required to wear school uniforms. The majority of public schools, in lieu of uniforms, generally adopt dress codes specifying permissible student clothing. But most private schools require students to don standardized uniforms. Uniforms vary in style but frequently consist of black or dark-colored slacks, white dress shirts, and neckties for boys; and dark slacks or skirts and white blouses for girls. Suit jackets for boys and girls are also frequently worn.
If you feel that students should be required to wear uniforms, and you're drawn to private schools because of their uniform requirements, be aware that in 2001, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) reported that 21 percent of all American public schools had begun to mandate school uniforms for their students.
If you share the widely held view that school uniforms influence students' academic success, then you probably agree with noted law professor David Altheide, who wrote in his book Terrorism and the Politics of Fear: “School uniforms … convey the institutional values of the school.” Therefore, private schools' uniform requirements might appeal to you more than the sartorial freedom offered by public schools. Many eminent academicians find uniforms appealing, as well. For example, psychologist Dewey Cornell notes in his book School Violence: “Even President Clinton, in his 1996 State of the Union Address, endorsed the concept of school uniforms as a way to improve student behavior and reduce gang violence. … Regardless of setting, school uniforms are thought to encourage more polite and civil behavior among students and to focus their attention on schoolwork.”
At the same time, even if uniforms are an important issue for you, note that entire public school districts nationwide are also mandating uniforms. One of the first districts to require uniforms was the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) in the city of Long Beach, California. LBUSD began its experiment with uniforms in 1994, and has since reported that suspensions have decreased by nearly 35 percent and assault-and-battery complaints have decreased by nearly 70 percent. While these encouraging trends might not actually be linked to the district's adoption of uniforms, the connection seems compelling nevertheless. Other public-school districts with uniform requirements include the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), encompassing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The District's website (