Public school uniforms: a case study of one school's experience
More and more public schools are considering school uniforms as one way to help address very complex social and academic achievement issues in the classroom. Given the nature of public schools, and the democratic ideals of individualism and diversity which are generality taught and valued, mandating what students wear can be problematic. Despite the limited amount of research available, the poor quality of the research that does exist, and the difficulties of evaluating the impact of such a policy, many parents and teachers perceive that uniforms have a positive effect on students and the learning environment, and the number of schools participating continues to increase. Why is this phenomenon occurring? What is driving these powerful perceptions of parents, educators and the general public? What are the positive impacts of uniforms? Are there negative impacts of school uniforms on students, parents and educators that are being ignored? Can what has been common practice in other nations, as well as in the private and parochial education sector, make a lasting difference in U.S. public schools? Can the same conditions that contribute to the acceptance of uniforms in private and parochial schools be replicated in the public schools?In an attempt to bring some insight to these larger questions, the school uniform phenomenon will be explored in a real life context by describing why and how one elementary school implemented a uniform policy. First, to better explain and put in context what happened at this school, there is a review and synthesis of the literature that includes historical and legal information, as well as applicable research on the sociological and psychological impact of clothing. Second, a chronological sequence of events from 1994-1997 sets forth the decision making and implementation process at Puget Sound Elementary School (P.S.E.) as a policy requiring school uniforms was implemented. Multiple sources of data are used to analyze why and how the uniform policy was implemented and in what ways the school community was impacted. Third, the academic and behavioral impact of uniforms at P.S.E. is compared to the results from schools in four other districts that have implemented school uniform policies. The parent, teacher and student perceptions that were reported will be analyzed using the literature on the psychological and sociological impact of clothing, as well as by applying Heider's (1958) attribution theory. The conclusions and recommendations from this study may be valuable to practitioners and policy makers who are considering the implementation of a uniform policy in a public elementary or middle level school.
- Education - Seattle