Mandating School Uniforms for Public Schools

H.4482 would require all public school students to wear school uniforms. The broad standards of the uniforms would be determined by the state Department of Education (DOE), but school principals would have some discretion in choosing the color scheme for their school’s uniforms. Uniforms would have to be made available at an affordable price for the average family, and the DOE would have to create a provision in the uniform rules to “assist students eligible for free or reduced school lunches in obtaining at least five sets of school uniforms for each season.”

Any benefits from such a policy are likely to be limited. Most if not all schools already have dress codes restricting clothing that is deemed to be either obscene or too revealing. It’s doubtful that a switch from a dress code to a full dress uniform is going to do much to increase the productivity and or attentiveness of students. What this mandate would do is increase costs for both families and schools. Public spending on schools should as much as possible be directed towards instruction with a few exceptions for other necessities (facilities, minimal administration), uniforms are not one of these necessities. Nor should parents have to pay more for a schooling expense that is unlikely to improve their child’s academic experience.

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