The History and Problems with Public School Uniform Policy

by: Gene Johns – 10-07-11

There is a growing un-American trend spreading across America. Public schools are instituting mandatory school uniform policies. This policy, without an opt-out clause for any and everyone, is un-constitutional and un-American. The Polk County Florida School District has instituted a mandatory school uniform policy without an opt-out provision. A great number of Americans seem to have no problem with this policy. 
Well, my fellow Americans, I have a huge problem not allowing students to opt-out of the school uniform policy. It has nothing to do with uniforms. It has everything to do with denying a student their right to attend public school unless the student wears certain colors of clothing. Public school authories do not have that authority!

First, below is how this idiotic policy started and why it doesn't achieve what it was meant to achieve: 

On January 23, 1996, Bill Clinton, in his State of the Union Address, encouraged public schools to implement a mandatory school uniform requirement. His reason to encourage such a policy was largely based on the so-called success of a school uniform policy in a Long Beach California public school. A claim was made that school uniforms had a positive effect on academic achievement, improved attendance rates, decreased behavioral problems (including gang activity) and decreased drug use. 
In 1998, David L. Brunma Ph. D (specializing in sociology of education) .from the University of Alabama and Kerry A. Rockquemore of Notre Dame (Ph. D and currently the Executive Director, National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity) published a report concerning their study of the effects of student uniforms on attendance, behavior problems, substance abuse and academic achievement.
“A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Their study showed uniforms did not lead to an improvement in attendance, behavior, drug use, or academic achievement. Based upon this analysis, the authors were forced to reject the ideas that uniforms improved attendance rates, decreased behavioral problems, decreased drug use, or improved academic achievement. Facts speak louder than opinions.
Many of those who support a mandatory public school uniform policy do so in the belief that it is necessary to improve our education environment. Please consider this: "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human liberty; it is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." ~ Willliam Pitt 

However, I am not going to debate the mythical merits of a school uniform. My objections to mandatory school uniforms in public school are fourfold:
Firstsuch a policy violates the “due process” clause of the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution—due process means a law must be fair and reasonable. 
A public school uniform policy may not be law but it is a government entity imposing a restriction on citizens. It is not reasonable to deny a student (students are citizens too, regardless of age) entry into a public school, for the purpose of attending class, if he or she fails to comply with the color scheme of a school uniform policy. A mandatory public school uniform policy violates the spirit of the Fifth Amendment.
Second, a mandatory public school uniform policy violates the Fourteenth Amendment of our Constitution.
"The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen [students are citizens too] against the State itself and all of its creatures -- Boards of Education not excepted. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes." Those are not my words, but the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas.
It is my view that the Fourteenth Amendment prevents a State and the public (government) schools within a State from dictating which colors of clothing a student (citizen) may or may not wear. I am sure that Justice Fortas and current members of the US Supreme Court would concur.
“In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are ‘persons’ under our Constitution.” ~ U.S. Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas
Third, citizens are protected from the government abridging their freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Yes, children are citizens too. The ability and freedom to choose the color of clothing one wears to school is a form of speech and is protected by the First Amendment.  
“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Fourth, it is unbelievable to me that in America, American parents (citizens) believe it is okay to govern the color of clothing students (children of other parents) wear to a public school. If you believe that is okay, what is wrong with you? What is it about America you don’t understand? This is America, damn it! Wake up! It is amazing to me that this is even an issue.
With liberty and freedom comes responsibility and risk. There are other ways to improve academic achievement, attendance, behavior problems, reducing drug use and crime. It is reasonable to believe the color of clothing one wears will improve or degrade the learning ability of a student? No, it isn’t! Is it reasonable to believe restricting colors of clothing students wear will have a positive effect on drug abuse and gang activity? No, it isn’t!
We must defend our liberty and freedom even on such a seemingly insignificant issue as to a color of clothing students may wear to public school. If we can’t stand up to this simple attack on our constitutional rights then how can we stand up to bigger attacks on our Constitution and our rights?
Many families believe in our traditional American values. As such, there are those like myself that believe in the Founding Fathers' desire for limited government, individual liberty and responsibility. Mandatory school uniform policies that apply to students (citizens) attending public (government) schools are in direct conflict with our beliefs and values as Americans. It is a slap in the face to our American Heritage!

Parents should not fight the school uniform. Often, that has proved to be a losing battle. Let them have their uniform. The battle ground should be over the right of the student to attend public school without complying with a clothing color scheme of a uniform or dress code policy. Fight for the right to opt-out! Schools must provide for an opt-out for any reason.

Bottom line: Public school authorities cannot deny a child the right to attend public school because the fail to comply with the color scheme of a uniform or dress code policy!

Remember, it doesn't matter if 99% of the parents want school uniforms (most likey based on myths and ignorance), the Constitution is the law of the land and protects minorities. We are a Republic (the rule of law) and not a Democracy (the rule by majority). 
Send comments to:
To return to home page click here
To go to the Public School Uniform home page click here