School Uniforms – Promoting Cooperation and Positive Behavior

When you visit one of our schools, I promise you’ll be impressed by how great our students look. At all five Cornerstone Schools, our students wear uniforms. Our appearance standards are defined and students adhere to those standards from kindergarten through senior year. It’s impressive.

Why are we so committed to school uniforms? We view our uniform dress code as one of the methods we use to promote cooperation in our classrooms. It works for several reasons – some cultural and some scientific. Here’s why:

Team Identity and School Culture
When students are wearing the same uniform, it promotes a feeling of team spirit. Everyone is easily identifiable as being on the same team, just like the players on a basketball, football or cheer team. We believe this helps our students understand that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves when they become a Cornerstone student.

To affirm this team identity, all of our students are taught a Standards of Character curriculum that defines and helps them understand the culture of Cornerstone schools.

Promoting Positive Behavior
Research shows that when schools implement a uniform policy, it improves grades, while it reduces tardiness, skipped classes and suspensions. One study showed that 70% of principals believed that mandated school uniforms reduced disciplinary problems at their schools.

These statistics align with our belief that uniforms help students make better decisions and form stronger relationships with each other. The more we’re able to help our students understand the value of, and create, positive relationships in our community, the less conflict we have to manage on school grounds.

Minimizing Competition and Socioeconomic Differences

In junior high and high school, fashion, and the high price of designer labels, can create a perceived hierarchy among our young women and men. We’re able to minimize this type of competition through our uniform dress code.

Fashion can be expensive and when students are able to avoid concerns about designer brands and the cost of what they wear to school, good things happen. They don’t have to figure out how to fit in with superficial fashion choices, so they’re more likely to act as their authentic selves. This also helps them relate to their fellow students as team or even family members, rather than competitors.

Identifying Guests on Campus

When our students are wearing uniforms in the same colors, it’s easy for the administration and teaching teams to determine who may be a guest or an intruder on our campus. This manages both way-finding (“Can I help you find someone?”) and potential safety issues (“Do you belong here?”)

Students at Cornerstone Schools have worn uniforms since the school was founded twenty-eight years ago. Based on that history, we’re confident that a dress code that encourages students to look their best contributes to a healthy educational environment and to our students’ success.

Sources: Public School Review; The New Times; Lumsden, L. (2001) Uniforms and Dress Code Policies, ERIC Digest # 148; Shamburger, P.S. (1999). The influence of a mandatory school uniform policy. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Career and Technical Education. Orlando, FL.


Jared Davis
Author
Jared Davis
Jared Davis is the principal of Cornerstone Health + Technology High School. He has 27 years of experience in levels K-12. He believes that all children can be successful, provided they have adequate support from parents, the school, and their surrounding communities.