High School Students in Jackson Public Schools are not required to wear school uniforms although uniforms are required in their elementary and middle schools. Whether students should be required to wear uniforms is a controversy around the country, as well as in Jackson, Mississippi, that is not going away soon.
Many opponents of school uniforms argue that students on the high school level need to express their individuality by wearing whatever they choose. Opponents are also stating that administrators have enough policies to enforce without adding a uniform policy to the list.
Advocates of school uniforms argue that individuality can be expressed in ways other than fashion. Advocates also argue that students are not expressing their individuality since they are all wearing expensive designer brands to be like everyone else.
They choose to wear clothing by designers who are popular at the present time. Students this year are choosing designers such as Ralph Lauren, Levi jeans of all colors, brands by Niki and brands sold at upscale department stores. No one is choosing to be different.
Advocates of school uniforms also argue that during these hard economic times uniforms are the way to go. They argue that not only is it economically sound for students to wear uniforms but students are placing too much emphasis on clothing. According to advocates, this emphasis should be channeled toward their academics.
These advocates also emphasize the point that students are stressing out if they cannot afford to wear up-to-date fashions because they want to be accepted by their peers. Similarly, parents are stressing out because they don’t want their child to be an outsider, therefore, they buy these expensive designer fashion although they cannot afford them.
It is believed by many that enforcement of the school uniform policy by administrators would minimize other discipline problems such as theft and students wearing provocative clothing. They feel that students are already programmed to wear uniforms in the elementary and middle schools in Jackson and a continuation of the policy would not be a problem.
As I observed the Jackson Public Schools Elementary and Middle School Students entering their school buildings on the first day of school they all seemed happy and ready to begin a new school year. JPS High School Students also seemed happy to begin the school year in their designer clothes, regardless of the stress and strain on the budget the clothing may have caused their parents.
My hope is that whether students are in school uniform or wearing clothing of their choice emphasis will be placed on individual achievement and not on making a fashion statement.