It’s my daughter’s first year of high school and her first year without a uniform. That’s right, no uniforms in high school. In our parish, the public schools have uniforms from K-8th grades, but parents continue to vote “no” on uniforms for high school. We had a vote this past school year, and, as the parent of an incoming freshman, I was sent a ballot and without a second thought marked yes and sent it back. I headed to a local mom Facebook group and of course the uniform vote was the topic of the day. I opened the comments to read fellow moms’ thoughts on uniforms in high school and soon discovered that it is definitely a hot topic.
The Cost of Uniforms
The first debate of uniforms was cost, whether the uniforms are cost saving or are they costly? For my family, uniforms are the best choice for budget friendly school clothes. We typically spend less than $100 per kid per year for their uniforms. Elementary school is khaki shorts and choice of designated color polo or school logo t-shirt. My son opts for the logo t-shirt, and we buy three shirts a year ($10/ea). We love the Cat and Jack brand shorts from Target–they hold up, and at $7 a pair they’re easy to replace for growth spurts or wear and tear. For middle school, we bought my daughter two school skirts in the required plaid. They were $60 each, but she was able to wear them all three years of middle school, and like the elementary schools they have their choice of top, she also chose the logo t-shirts. My daughter is currently creating her list of desired back to school shopping, and I can see that it is going to be a reality check for her as there is a budget, but even with that budget, it will probably end up costing more than all three years of middle school did.
Let Them Show Their Individuality
The second point of debate was that uniforms keep kids from being individuals and they don’t allow them to show their personal style. Now I am going to sound like an old lady here, but the reason kids go to school is to learn; it’s not a fashion show. The school dress code is also very strict, to the point where after I read it, I questioned why not just have uniforms. It seems to be less work for all parties. If administration is spending time assuring that shorts are long enough, jeans aren’t excessively ripped, tops cover both the front and back when leggings are worn, hair isn’t unnatural colors, again it’s taking away from the learning environment. The schools do allow for some individuality with uniforms, kids can wear the shoes they choose, back packs, and other accessories.
What Do The Kids Want
After talking to my daughter and her friends, they are actually not loving the idea of free dress. The first thing they all said when I asked if they were happy about no uniforms, was that they are going to miss being able just to wake up and know what they are going to wear, that they don’t want to have to stress about an outfit for the day. “Stress about an outfit,” that statement in itself is enough to reaffirm my vote for uniforms. Why should picking out an outfit for school be stressful? Well because teenagers can be jerks and if you’re not wearing the next trendy thing, then you are at risk for being teased, looked down upon, talked about. We’ve all been that age and we know it happens. In a uniform, everyone starts on the same playing field as far as clothes. Will it prevent teasing and all those other things? Absolutely not, but it at least gives one less thing to choose from.
Clothes Don’t Define You
Clothes don’t define who you are or what you are capable of. I tell my kids to be the person you want to be known for, show your talents, your personality, be kind, be helpful, be funny, be respectful. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. If you’re being your best self, let that define you. These are the things that will make you stand out and help you to succeed in school and in life.
Uniforms or no uniforms? It is one of the great debates. Do they help the learning environment? Do they decease teasing and bullying? Does it save time and stress? Are they more cost efficient? The arguments are strong on both sides. I will most likely vote yes the next time it is put on the ballot, but depending on how the next couple years turn out as we delve into the high school experience, I may change my mind.
Either way it’s back to school time y’all, we survived another summer!!