Wednesday, March 28, 2007

400 Nashville Students Are Fashionably Challenged

Wonder how much educational time, resources and money were wasted by herding 400 students in Nashville high schools into detention in a single day for violating dress code policies?

The Tennessean report says about "200 students at Overton High and 200 at Antioch High were removed from class and given in-school suspension. They sat in a large group in the auditorium or gym, according to school officials."

All this occurs as the Metro board considers whether or not or how mandatory school uniforms should be used. I've seen plenty of anecdotal reports from parents and others who claim that just by having kids dress uniformly improves everything at a school.

Empirical data says ... no evidence of a correlation between uniforms and behavior or achievement in academics exists.

A 2005 report in Education Week says:

Despite the media coverage,” David Brunsma writes in The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education, “despite the anecdotal meanderings of politicians, community members, educators, board members, parents, and students, uniforms have not been effective at attacking the very outcomes and issues they were assumed to aid.”

That means, he says, that uniform policies don’t curb violence or behavioral problems in schools. They don’t cultivate student self-esteem and motivation. They don’t balance the social-status differences that often separate students. And they don’t improve academic achievement. (In fact, uniforms may even be associated with a small detrimental effect on achievement in reading, his research shows.)

"In conducting hundreds of analyses, Brunsma looks for effects among individual students and entire schools, and among younger children and teenagers. He also controls for differences that might also account for varying test scores, such as the socioeconomic status or race of students. And, for the most part, he continues to come up empty-handed on any evidence that school uniform policies are effective."

But what about those studies which do show huge changes once uniforms are require? Turns out the studies were sponsored by a company called French Toast, which makes, no, not breakfast -- they make and sell school uniforms.

Brunsma says newer case studies looking at uniform-adoption efforts in schools in Baltimore, Denver, and Aldine, Texas, a suburban Houston district—all of which also point to positive effects—have an additional shortcoming. Besides being largely anecdotal, they were sponsored by French Toast, a leading manufacturer of school uniforms based in Martinsville, Va.

“If you look at the published stuff on this, the ones that conclude positive results, by and large come from clothiers,” he says, noting that school uniforms have grown into a multimillion-dollar industry. Another study of school uniforms was financed by Dodgeville, Wis.-based Lands’ End Inc., which started its school uniform division in 1997."

Most studies and cases indicate one clear result of requiring uniforms -- parents and others "perceived" a change took place and therefore believed all was made well.

Fashionable fixes and fads are easy. Education is hard


  1. Oddly enough, even after over a hundred years in the United States, the Prussian model STILL doesn't work.

  2. The national department of education has a page for information on uniforms. While most is anecdotal, there are actual statistics quoted on the page. I suppose one could argue the validity of them, but at least it shows a positive perspective, besides that paid for by French Toast.

    Also, I'd argue that anecdotal data should at least be considered. Statistics are important, but tone/mood at school is also important.

  3. Anonymous3:49 PM

    the best school uniform today seems to be camo. LRR