The Instigator
MTGandP
Con (against)
Losing
65 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
66 Points

School uniforms ought to be worn in primary and secondary schools.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+12
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/22/2009 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 24,606 times Debate No: 8736
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (41)
Votes (25)

 

MTGandP

Con

School Uniform: An outfit of clothing to be worn daily to school.

"Traditionally, school uniforms have been subdued and professional. Boys' uniforms often consist of dark trousers and light-colored shirt, often with a tie. Girls' uniforms [...] typically consist of a dress or a blouse worn either with a skirt or culottes or under a pinafore." (http://en.wikipedia.org...)

It is assumed that wearing the school uniform (as described above) does not conflict with any religious beliefs.

Since my opponent is Pro, I will allow him to make the opening argument.
RoyLatham

Pro

For this debate a "school uniform" is a specific design for clothing designated to be worn while attending academic classes at a school. The school context comprises grades one through twelve of public and private schools in the United States. Different schools and different grades within schools may have different uniforms, as determined by parents and school administration. The paradigm is that of Japanese schools, as shown in anime. http://answers.yahoo.com....

The reasons for requiring uniforms are:

1) A distinct attire enforces behavior suited to the task. Consider why judges wear judicial robes. Clearly, the judicial system would not disintegrate if judges dresses casually. Nonetheless, it is virtually universally accepted that there is an incremental gain in focusing both the judge and the court proceeding that improves justice. It is fundamental to human psychology that costume reinforces attitude. We see also se this in the practices of the police, military, security guards, airline pilots, nurses (and doctors' white coats), professional chefs, and many private companies, like package delivery services.

The best schools overseas, in Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong, use uniforms to help maintain a focus on education that leads to better performance. In the US, the Catholic schools, which mostly have uniforms, succeed better than public schools. There are differences besides uniforms that lead to better performance in these schools, but they all relate to discipline and focus. I grant that just having uniforms will not solve all problems. However it is step in the right direction, and we know it is in the right direction because it moves towards the constellation of attributes associated with focus and discipline.

In the U.S, the most extensive test of uniform policies was in the Long Beach School system, which produced positive results:

"The quantitative outcomes of the policy have been remarkable. Crime report summaries are now available for the five-year post-uniform policy period and reflect that school crime overall has dropped approximately 86%, even though K-8 student enrollment increased 14%. The five categories of school crime where comparisons can be made between 1993 levels and 1999 levels are as follows: (a) sex offenses down 93% (from 57 to 4 offenses); (b) robbery/extortion down 85% (from 34 to 5 cases); (c) selling or using chemical substances down 48% (from 71 to 37 cases); (d) weapons or look-a-likes down 75% (from 145 to 36 cases); and (e) dangerous devices down 96% (from 46 to 2 cases; LBUSD, 1999). ... Analysis of attendance figures has also provided interesting outcomes for the uniform initiative. In the fourth year that school uniforms have been required in K-8 grades, the percent of actual attendance reached almost 95%, noted as the highest point in the 18 years that the district has maintained statistics. Middle schools also registered comparable improvements in student attendance reaching almost 95% (LBUSD, 2002)." http://findarticles.com...

2) It promotes identity with the school and class, which emphasizes the common educational purpose. It puts everyone in the same boat so they are more likely to help each other succeed. This is a reason why players on sports teams wear identical uniforms. It would suffice to identify the team players if, say, one team wore predominantly red and the other predominantly blue, or even just predominantly dark and light. Yet there is widespread agreement that having identical uniforms is important for the team psychology.

3) It removes the distractions of fashion trends and fashion competition from school hours, thereby reinforcing the educational purpose of the enterprise. It helps students focus.

"Eddie Scott, principal at Meade Middle on Fort Meade, tells the Baltimore Sun's writer, Anica Butler, "There's research that shows a correlation between appropriate dress and academic performance." Students will not be distracted with who is wearing what brand of jeans, shoes or shirts. Students can focus on learning which is why they are there." http://educationalissues.suite101.com...

4) One of the main reasons that Baltimore parents wanted to have school uniforms was to reduce clothing costs. Chasing fashion fads and buying many different stylish outfits is far more expensive than just a few uniforms. However, while costs are lower for middle and upper income families, there is a potential hardship for poor families. It is well worth it for the school system to provide uniforms to such families. The uniforms are guaranteed to be used, so poor kids get better clothing and costs are lowered overall.

Before-and-after studies in the Long Beach and Baltimore schools show that uniforms achieve positive effects.

The Wikipedia article on school uniforms cites a study by Brunsma and Rockquemore, which purports to show there is no effect. The full text of the study is posted at http://sociology.missouri.edu... The study is bogus. The key defects are that the study contained almost no public schools, and even more importantly, never considered data from the same school before and after the policies were implemented. The authors basically end up studying schools that already had high levels of discipline, and conclude that if all else is right, then uniforms make no difference. The authors made statistical corrections for the statistically biased sample, but they give almost no information on what they did in order to get the answer they sought. They admit, for example, that Catholic schools achieve better performance, but they apply corrections to the data so it doesn't correlate to uniforms.

The authors claim to be surprised by their results, but go on to reveal clear bias. For example, they dismiss the solid before-and-after case of the Long Beach School system by saying that a $1 million study ($10/student) introduced unspecified "educational reforms" that produced the dramatic changes. If dramatic improvement could be achieved effortlessly, the "reforms" would surely be adopted universally, which they were not. Beyond that, the authors would surely name the reforms if they were so compelling, but they did not do that either. Moreover, absolutely no one in the school system attributed the improvements to anything but the uniform policy. The authors bias shows throughout their intemperate and unjustified conclusions. A statistics package in the hands of a social scientist remains a dangerous thing.

The authors made one valid point. They suggest that the parental involvement that precipitated a policy of requiring uniforms in Long Beach may have precipitated other improvements. I suggest that parents and educators showing that they cared about educational performance had a positive effect upon performance. That's a good result and a good reason for parents and educators showing they care by adopting a uniforms policy else where.

Adopting school uniforms will not solve all the problems of education. Before-and-after studies show significant improvements in performance, and virtually all of the top schools systems in the US and abroad have uniform policies as part of an overall program that focuses student.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 1
MTGandP

Con

I thank my opponent for participating in this debate. I will begin by rebutting his contentions and will then move on to my own.

========

"Consider why judges wear judicial robes. Clearly, the judicial system would not disintegrate if judges dresses casually. Nonetheless, it is virtually universally accepted that there is an incremental gain in focusing both the judge and the court proceeding that improves justice."
I would argue that the practice of judges wearing judicial uniforms is an unnecessary one, but that is not my main argument. My main point is that this is an improper analogy. Judges lead court hearings, and are the focus of attention. Students are not. A better analogy would be a uniform for the jury. But the jury does not wear a uniform [1], so this analogy in fact works in favor of con; what the jury wears in practice is more analogous to a dress code. A dress code is a "formally or socially imposed standard of dress" [2], and refers to types of clothing more than a specific uniform. I do support a dress code, as it is not appropriate to wear just anything to school, but a uniform is excessive.

Back to the analogy, the judge is more analogous to the teacher. So this point argues more that teachers should wear uniforms, not students.

"We see also se [sic] this in the practices of the police, military, security guards, airline pilots, nurses (and doctors' white coats), professional chefs, and many private companies, like package delivery services."
All the named professions are very specialized. For many of these, the reason for wearing a uniform is clear: so that they are easily recognizable. In a hospital, for example, it would not do to confuse the nurses with the patients. And police should be recognizable so that we can quickly get help from them. But there is no such need for students to be recognizable.

"Catholic schools, which mostly have uniforms, succeed better than public schools. There are differences besides uniforms that lead to better performance in these schools, but they all relate to discipline and focus."
1) How is my opponent quantifying success/performance?
2) My opponent has not provided evidence to support these claims.
3) Catholic schools differ from public schools in many ways, and any of these differences could be responsible. An increase in discipline may not be responsible. The main reason is probably parental attitude. Parents who are willing to spend extra money to send their children to private school clearly care about their children's education. It is easy to see how this attitude can lead to an increase in school performance.

My opponent cites a study showing a potential correlation between school uniforms and reduced crime rate. However, the study is incomplete. Many policies (schoolwide, citywide, etc) can change in six years, and there is very little evidence that school uniforms were the cause of the change. The study my opponent cited also stated that "there is little research on the effectiveness of school uniforms." [3] Correlation, while something, is far from evidence.

Additionally, the credibility of the study is questionable. Why would school uniforms, admitted by my opponent to probably only cause "an incremental gain" in performance, lead to such dramatic changes? Very few policies could cause that sort of change. I would need some proof of the credibility of this study before I would accept this extraordinary evidence.

"2) [...] It puts everyone in the same boat so they are more likely to help each other succeed."
Why do students not cooperate? Why do they instead compete? Am I supposed to believe that students aren't cooperating because they're wearing different CLOTHING?

"This is a reason why players on sports teams wear identical uniforms."
A school is not a sports team. If students are made to wear uniforms, it will emphasize the divisions between different schools or school districts. In sports, these divisions are necessary, but a school is not a sports team. Uniforms are potentially harmful for this reason. Addressing the original point, my opponent seems to be saying that uniforms improve sense of unity. Even if they do, how is this beneficial to a scholastic setting? Fast-paced communal reactions are unnecessary.

"3) It removes the distractions of fashion trends"
The concept of fashion trends being distracting is pure fiction. Distractions occur due to boring material or boring teachers, and school uniforms don't fix that.

"4) [...] reduce clothing costs."
I hardly see how buying an extra article of clothing could reduce costs. Yes, the school system can provide uniforms for lower-income families, but the money has to come from somewhere – and that somewhere is taxes. Why not skip a step and just shift more of the tax burden to the rich?

Chasing fashion fads may be expensive, but it's optional. Parents do not have to buy so much clothing for their children. Additionally, children will want to have fashionable clothing for outside of school: who would wear a school uniform all the time? So in the end, no money is saved.

***

My opponent cites a study by Mrunsma and Rokquemore:

"The key defects are that the study contained almost no public schools, and even more importantly, never considered data from the same school before and after the policies were implemented."
The study used the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, a nationally representative set of schools [4]. While it is true that they did not compare schools before and after uniform policies were implemented, this is irrelevant. Firstly, they reduced bias by accounting for other variables such as school location. Secondly, comparing schools before and after is still biased because it is highly likely that something besides school uniform policy changed between the first and second studies.

"If dramatic improvement could be achieved effortlessly, the "reforms" would surely be adopted universally, which they were not."
This is self-defeating: if school uniforms could achieve dramatic improvement, they would be adopted universally, which they were not.

========

The character limit approaches, so I will keep my contentions short. It is worth noting that several potential contentions have already been addressed above: for instance, I could make the point that school uniforms are expensive, but I already made that point in response to my opponent's fourth contention.

Pre-Contention: Unless school uniforms are proven to be more beneficial than detrimental, there is no reason to use them. All else being equal, a school uniform is an unnecessary entity.

Contention 1: School uniforms restrict the students' self-expression. Many students feel that the best way to express themselves is through their form of dress, and if they are required to wear school uniforms, it stifles creativity and self-expression. I concede that uniforms are not the only means of self-expression, but students will still feel stifled and many will be unsuccessful at finding alternative means of expression. Some students may even use inappropriate means of self-expression such as painting graffiti on school property, rebounding and dressing overly inappropriately, or bullying or harming other students.

Contention 2: School uniforms greatly limit the potential for diversity. Cultural uniqueness, for instance, is usually promoted through clothing.

Contention 3: School uniforms enforce conformity, and conformity is stifling to creativity and originality. Even the limited conformity enforced by school uniforms is still stifling. Conformity leads to stagnation.

========

I thank my opponent for this debate and look forward to his response.

[1] ehow.com/how_13928_dress-jury-duty.html
[2] merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dress%20code (definition)
[3] findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3626/is_200310/ai_n9248791/pg_7
[4] nces.ed.gov/surveys/NELS88/
RoyLatham

Pro

There have been two major experiments with uniforms in public schools in the United States, the Long Beach and Baltimore school systems. Both were dramatic successes, and educators in both systems attributed the results entirely to the uniforms policies. Results are measured in terms of discipline problems and academic achievement. The most successful school systems in the US, the parochial schools, and the highest performing school systems overseas (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan) all have policies requiring uniforms. School uniforms work by engendering focus and school spirit, and by eliminating distractions. The human psychology behind the effects of costume on behavior is evidenced broadly, in professions ranging from judges and the military to airline pilots and service workers.

(1) Con conjectures that the purpose of judicial robes is to make the judge the center of attention, as if otherwise he or she would not be the center of attention. While the practice of wearing robes is traditional, modern judges believe that enhances the "judicial mode" of thinking:

"The robe is considered a reminder of the law and a symbol of neutrality." 35th District Court in Plymouth, Michigan http://www.35thdistrictcourt.org...

"The robe symbolizes the authority of the court, differentiating them from the person who is the judge. It vests the person wearing it with all rights and permissions (authorities) that go along with the position of a judge. Contempt towards that individual, then becomes contempt of the court, not the person, because the judge represents and embodies the court as a whole, not the individual person any longer...Having gone all through the booklets on judicial robes when choosing them with my husband, I am more than familiar with what they can and can't wear, and what this is based on, since the companies are kind enough to send informative little packets with the other literature and style choices." http://forums.cnet.com...

Con argues that if special apparel enhances judicial thinking, then it should be applied to juries as well. I agree, it would be a definite help. Currently, jurors do not, as a rule, conform to any dress code more strict than, say, what one would wear to the mall. They would do well to have a "trier-of-fact mode," particularly for felony trials.

Con argues that in many professions, uniforms are used mainly for identification. Sure, sometimes it helps identification, but identification can most often be accomplished with less cost or effort than wearing a uniform. As in the Old West, law enforcement can be identified by those wearing a badge and carrying a gun. In modern times, a black tee shirt with "POLICE" in white letters is preferred in confusing situations like drug take-downs. Often, in general, a picture badge is better identification than a uniform, because uniforms can be stolen or faked. The military battle dress uniforms are camouflaged, making the soldier harder to identify, not easier. Professions requiring focus and discipline tend to use uniforms, independent of identification. Many have no need to be identified by the public at all, like airline pilots and chefs.

Con asks how performance is quantified. That was answered in the cited material early, with measures of discipline and academic performance. The evidence was provided at the same time in the cited statistics related to Long Beach and Baltimore, and in the qualified opinions of educators. In the case of Catholic schools, Brunsma and Rockquemore grant that Catholic schools have better performance, but then attempt to adjust it away statistically, without proper justification. Internationally, for example, the five top countries in eighth grade math are http://nces.ed.gov... Taiwan, Singapore, S. Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan; all having school uniforms.

(2) Con argues that having uniforms would encourage competition among schools. That is desirable, because it provides additional motivation for students to excel. It's the job of educators to channel the competition into academic pursuits like the school's overall test scores, or maybe the debate team.

I do not claim that uniforms are the only factor in education. The main factor, I claim, is focus and discipline. It is more important, for example, that parents insist that studies be a high priority and that students are impressed by society that education is a serious and important activity. What uniforms accomplish is conveying that message. American schools have many resource advantages compared to other school systems in the world, yet performance is mediocre.

We therefore expect that uniforms will have the greatest impact in schools that lack focus, and the least impact in schools that achieve focus through parental involvement. The methodology of Brunsma and Rockquemore was to compare Catholic schools having and not having uniforms to show that uniforms were not the decisive factor; perhaps so, but the before-and-after experience in Long Beach and Baltimore shows that in less disciplined public schools they are an important factor. As a matter of policy, we should do everything that helps education, and that includes uniforms.

(3) Con argues, "The concept of fashion trends being distracting is pure fiction. Distractions occur due to boring material or boring teachers, and school uniforms don't fix that." So are we to conclude that eighth grade mathematics in Taiwan and Japan is much more exciting than it is in the United States? An that the excitement is intensified by having much larger classes with less student-teacher interaction?

"There are basically five fashion trends of the high schooler today. Each unique fashion style lends itself to its own unique social outlet. While these five fashion trends may be the popular ones of today's high school students, it doesn't mean that there aren't other high school fashion trends. ... The fashionistas search out the hottest fashionable clothing trends for the high schooler. Their main goal is to achieve the ultimate outfit from the hottest fashion trends at their local malls. Fashionistas set the highest standards for high school fashion. The fashionista is a tough job to have as far as high school fashion goes, but someone has to do it. " http://www.associatedcontent.com...

The less of this, the better.

(4) Con suggests that the rich be taxed to pay for the school uniforms of poor students. that sounds good to me. Agreed.

Con argues that "Chasing fashion fads may be expensive, but it's optional. Parents do not have to buy so much clothing for their children." It's not true that teenagers are content to quietly do as they are told by their parents. Requiring uniforms takes one expensive item off the agenda for discussion and compromise. That is why Baltimore parent cited it as strong advantage of the uniforms policy. Perhaps in a different society, the theory of it being "optional" is true, but in the real American society, a uniform policy cuts costs.

(c1) Con argues that uniforms limit self-expression. This is admitting it is a distraction from education. There is no limitation on how students express themselves outside of school; some of the Japanese are outrageous cosplayers. In school, the focus should be on school as a profession.

(C2) School uniforms do limit diversity, just as do police uniforms, military uniforms, and judicial robes. We want students to focus on the common interest in education. They can express diversity in the academic world of ideas, where it is appropriate.

(C3) Con argues that "uniforms enforce conformity, and conformity is stifling to creativity and originality." If expressing oneself through clothing is not allowed, that only leaves intellectual, academic, and social mechanisms for creativity. That's exactly where we want the empha
Debate Round No. 2
MTGandP

Con

My opponent's first paragraph consists entirely of arguments that I have already adequately refuted, so I will not be responding to it in detail.

"The robe is considered a reminder of the law and a symbol of neutrality."
Maybe so. But my core argument still applies: a judge is not an appropriate analogy to a student. Students do not require the same sort of differentiation. Students are not meant to be faceless upholders of the law: each student is a unique individual, and school uniforms spit in the face of individuality.

"Con argues that if special apparel enhances judicial thinking, then it should be applied to juries as well."
Yes, and special apparel does not necessarily enhance judicial thinking in the case of a jury.

"As in the Old West, law enforcement can be identified by those wearing a badge and carrying a gun."
And indeed, police frequently wear only a badge and a gun as recognizable characteristics. But as a means of identification, this is far slower and more difficult, and inadequate in many situations.

"The military battle dress uniforms are camouflaged, making the soldier harder to identify, not easier."
This argument is self-refuting. Soldiers do not wear camouflage because it is a symbol of their position; they wear camouflage so that the enemy cannot see them.

"Many have no need to be identified by the public at all, like airline pilots and chefs."
A pilot's uniform is somewhat simpler, and more akin to a suit. It is used as a simple recognition of job status. Chefs wear uniforms for various reasons: they are authority figures, they are the center of the kitchen, or they do not want to get food on a nice suit or even a normal outfit.

"[T]he five top countries in eighth grade math are [...] Taiwan, Singapore, S. Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan; all having school uniforms."
This is mere correlation. It is possible that high performance led to the implementation of school uniforms or that some third factor, such as cultural ideals, led to both. I see both of these as more sensical than that school uniforms caused an increase in performance. For instance, Japanese schools last 240 days of the year as opposed to a mere 180 days [2]. This is a credible cause for increased performance.

"Con argues that having uniforms would encourage competition among schools. That is desirable, because it provides additional motivation for students to excel."
I happen to disagree. But to accept my opponent's standpoint raises the question, Why is it not desirable for students to compete on a more individual level? Schools are really more about individualism, and no student is ultimately responsible for another student's success. Individual-level competition, by my opponent's standpoint, is more desirable.

"The main factor [in educational performance] is focus and discipline."
Focus is most likely important. But why discipline? Only a relatively small fraction of students have real difficulty with authority. For others, relatively minor discipline is adequate, which means that school uniforms as a means of discipline are unnecessary.

Additionally, this claim seems contradictory with the claim that school uniforms promote identity. Discipline is usually disliked. (What student wants to be restricted and punished?) Further enforcement of discipline would lead to dislike of and separatism from one's school, which is the very opposite of identity.

I completely fail to see how school uniforms will increase focus.

"[T]he before-and-after experience in Long Beach and Baltimore shows that in less disciplined public schools they are an important factor."
This is an important point, and it is therefore worth mentioning that I refuted it in round 2.

"We therefore expect that uniforms will have the greatest impact in schools that lack focus, and the least impact in schools that achieve focus through parental involvement. The methodology of Brunsma and Rockquemore was to compare Catholic schools having and not having uniforms to show that uniforms were not the decisive factor".
-I fail to see why that is what we expect.
-Brunsma and Rockquemore did have a large sample of Catholic schools, but they also included many other schools in their study.

{quote} (3) Con argues, "The concept of fashion trends being distracting is pure fiction. Distractions occur due to boring material or boring teachers, and school uniforms don't fix that." So are we to conclude that eighth grade mathematics in Taiwan and Japan is much more exciting than it is in the United States? An that the excitement is intensified by having much larger classes with less student-teacher interaction?{/quote}
No, we are not to conclude that. My opponent has put forth a false dichotomy. The increase in test scores can be attributed to many factors more feasible than school uniforms: longer school hours, a higher cultural value on scholastic success, etc.

"The less of [fashion trends], the better."
Maybe, maybe not. But requiring that students wear uniforms will do very little, if anything, to curtail students' desire for fashionableness.

"(4) Con suggests that the rich be taxed to pay for the school uniforms of poor students. That sounds good to me. Agreed."
So that contention is conceded? This still leaves the problem that school uniforms cost more, all things considered.

"Requiring uniforms takes one expensive item off the agenda for discussion and compromise."
Why? Buying a uniform in no way reduces a student's desire to be fashionable. The uniform is only an added expense.

"Con argues that uniforms limit self-expression. This is admitting it is a distraction from education."
It is a large leap to go from self-expression to distraction. This leap requires justification.

"In school, the focus should be on school as a profession."
It is true that the primary purpose of school is to provide an education. But it need not be stifling. In fact, if a school is more enjoyable and less stifling, learning is made easier and more comfortable.

"School uniforms do limit diversity, just as do police uniforms, military uniforms, and judicial robes."
Did my opponent not state that "the judge represents and embodies the court as a whole, not the individual person any longer"? When individuality is removed, diversity is removed.

"If expressing oneself through clothing is not allowed, that only leaves intellectual, academic, and social mechanisms for creativity."
This is another false dichotomy. It also leaves means that can be harmful, such as inappropriate behavior or violence as means of expression.

School uniforms, as I have shown, limit diversity, stifle individuality and cause far more harm than good.

[1] http://www.gate.net...
[2] http://sitemaker.umich.edu...
RoyLatham

Pro

My argument in this debate is that uniforms put people in a mode of focusing on the activity associated with the uniform. It also enhances the sense of unity behind a common purpose. The supporting evidence includes the self-assessment of judges, police officers, military people, and many others who say it has those effects. We also see it in the use of uniforms in many circumstances where identification is not required or could be achieved by lesser means. Con has offered no rebuttal evidence, but rather merely argues that he "doesn't see it."

In the United States, there have been two major experiments in public schools, in Long Beach and Baltimore. Both produced resounding successes as measured by fewer incidents of discipline breaking down and by improved academic performance. All of the educators involved attribute the improvements to the uniforms policy. Exactly one study using erroneous statistical analysis methods opined the improvements must have come from something else, but they couldn't identify any specific policy changes as causes. The language of the study also makes the authors' bias apparent. Actual experience should prevail over biased statistical abuse that leaves the school transformations as essentially unexplained miracles.

I acknowledge that there are many factors that go into educational performance. If parental concern is high, and students are successfully taught self-discipline in the home, then uniforms can only be expected to make a small difference. That's observed in the comparison of Catholic schools having and not having uniform policies. However, such is not typical of the United States, and that is why the Long Beach and Baltimore experiments were so successful.

In societies that place a high value on education, uniforms probably have only a marginal effect, because parental concern and student self-discipline is consequently high. Nonetheless, these societies know what works and choose to make use of every incremental advantage. Countries like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore all use uniforms as part of the set policies that lead to educational excellence. The do so despite having class sizes much larger than those in the United States, something only possible with exceptional student focus and discipline.

I suspect that few American high school students want uniforms. I know I would not have wanted it when I was in high school. I also did not like quite a number of things forced upon me that turned out to be good in the long run. In retrospect, there are more things that would have been good in the long run, like a foreign language requirement, that I would not have liked at the time. The decision of what is good educational policy should be based upon objective outcomes, not student sentiment. Many students see no point in Math or English classes, and they are wrong about that too.

I agreed that uniforms limit diversity. So do dress codes of any types. So do uniforms for sports teams and marching bands. I challenged Con to explain why it was a problem to limit diversity in the way students dress, when they will still be diverse in their thoughts, attitude, and cultural experience. The intellectual realm of diversity is what is important for schools, not clothing styles. Besides, how many students actually dress in costumes representative of their cultural heritage? Japanese in kimonos? Canadians in red and black checked shirts (that's what they wear at the Canadian exhibit at Epcot)? It's rare.

I did not propose a dichotomy. I made the accurate observation that the academic benefit of diversity is in intellectual considerations, not traditional costumes. In fact, I suspect that while rare, some students who like to be unburdened from parents decisions on traditional costumes, so uniforms would be a step up for them.

With respect o school unity, Con asks, "Why is it not desirable for students to compete on a more individual level? Schools are really more about individualism, and no student is ultimately responsible for another student's success." Students impact each others performance without being "ultimately responsible." The group effects include preserving order in the classroom so that time is not wasted on discipline problems, providing simple encouragement (like the universal anime school phrase, "do your best"), by avoiding peer pressure for students to ignore studies, and by helping fellow students in ways like sharing class notes and providing assignment to students out with illness. One way to keep advanced students for being bored is have them tutor students who are having difficulty.

Also, if a student wants his school to do well, be will try a little harder to avoid being one who brings the school average down. In that respect it is like a member of sports team who wants to avoid being the one responsible for a loss, and so practices harder.

Con argues, "Focus is most likely important. But why discipline? Only a relatively small fraction of students have real difficulty with authority. For others, relatively minor discipline is adequate, ..." The type of discipline related to serious rule breaking is a problem in some schools, but for many schools it is about avoiding minor class disruption, committing to doing school work, and in general treating school like a job. Schools in East Asia excel despite much larger class sizes than in the U.S., class sizes that educators believe would be unworkable here.

Con argues, "Further enforcement of discipline would lead to dislike of and separatism from one's school, which is the very opposite of identity." The benefits of discipline outweigh the aversion to discipline, and students will come to realize that quickly. Members of highly disciplined professions like police and the military take pride in their uniforms because they recognize that their professions benefit from. I'm not suggesting anything nearly so severely disciplined for students; it is a matter of incremental gain. Students in the United States will benefit. The experiments prove it works. Are the children of parents who impose little discipline in fact happier than those who receive reasonable discipline? They are not. We are not talking about imposing military rules, just uniforms.

"But requiring that students wear uniforms will do very little, if anything, to curtail students' desire for fashionableness." They may desire to be fashionable, but the ability to express the desire will be significantly limited by disallowing it at school. There are not many students who cannot afford uniforms compared to those who can. Consequently, having to subsidize poor students is a small cost. Baltimore parents paid for poor students uniforms and found that it nonetheless significantly lowered their overall costs. There is no reason why uniforms need to cost much more than ordinary clothing, and everybody has to wear something. What is avoided is expensive fashion.

Con's arguments are that he doesn't like it and cannot see it. That's not an effective counter to the evidence of experience. We can understand why uniforms work effectively in many professions, and those reasons apply to schools. Moreover, the major experiments in Long Beach and Baltimore verify that they in fact work as expected.

The resolution is affirmed.

I will let Con conclude the debate in the next round, so that we have each had three opportunities to present arguments. I will pass in the last round.
Debate Round No. 3
MTGandP

Con

On the Long Beach Study:

My reason for questioning the Long Beach study is not merely because I "don't see it", but is because there is no evidence that school uniforms are responsible for the change in behavior. The study only took two data samples which were six years apart, so it is irrational to jump to the conclusion that school uniforms caused the miraculous change. The change is more likely due to an increase in school security or education school programs [1] [2]. It is worth noting that a possible cause of the changes is the "educational reforms" my opponent refers to in round 1. My opponent dismisses this: "If dramatic improvement could be achieved effortlessly, the 'reforms' would surely be adopted universally, which they were not." This logic is flawed for several reasons.
1. The same logic can be applied to school uniforms: if school uniforms really caused the dramatic improvement, they would be adopted universally, which they were not. Since school uniforms were not adopted universally, then by my opponent's own logic they are not beneficial and my opponent's entire case is shattered.
2. It is possible that the LBUSD was not aware that the educational reforms had caused the improvement; they clearly believe that it was due to the uniform policy. There are several possible causes of this, notably a bias caused by the great parental support of school uniforms. Regardless of whether there was a bias, it is highly likely that the LBUSD misattributed school uniforms as the cause, causing most people to ignore any other possibility.

While it is true that I did not offer rebuttal evidence, I do not need any, as my opponent has failed to show the causation between school uniforms and increased performance. He asks that his claim be accepted without any proof of causation, and this request is absolutely ridiculous.

======
On the Baltimore Study:

All references to the Baltimore Study should be discarded due to lack of supporting evidence.

======
On the Brunsma and Rockquemore Study:

My opponent claims that the study is biased; however, this is unwarranted. My opponent's only reason for claiming that they were biased is that B&R thought that in Long Beach, "educational reforms" were more likely responsible for the change than school uniforms. But I already refuted this point in "On the Long Beach Study". My opponent's rebuttal is inadequate, merely reiterating points which I have already refuted. B&R shall be accepted as valid evidence.

======
On East Asia:

As I have previously stated, the high educational performance in countries such as Japan and Taiwan should not be attributed to school uniforms, and are more likely due to cultural paradigms. See my explanation in round 3.

East Asians place great emphasis on discipline and conformity. Americans place emphasis on individuality; every student is pushed to succeed. These vast cultural differences are probably responsible for the difference in performance; it takes a leap of faith to attribute performance to mere uniforms.

======
On Student Desire for Uniforms:

My opponent argues that students do not always know what is in their own best interest. He makes a fair case, but of course I never argued that students' desires were important. It is a weak argument, and of course my opponent was able to refute it.

======
On Diversity/Self-Expression:

Limitations on diversity lead to students feeling oppressed, even if it is only in dress. Oppression leads to disorder, struggle and rebellion.

"[I]f a student wants his school to do well. . . "
Forced limitations of self-expression lead to a desire to distance oneself from one's school, not to a sense of school spirit.

"I did not propose a dichotomy. I [said] that the academic benefit of diversity is in intellectual considerations, not traditional costumes."
That is not what my opponent said: "If expressing oneself through clothing is not allowed, that only leaves intellectual, academic, and social mechanisms for creativity." In response to his new point, of course I agree. But he is limiting his scope to academic benefit. Students must not be stifled, or they will suffer. This will indirectly but inevitably lead to a decline in performance.

======
On School Cooperation:

My opponent makes some interesting points on the detriments of individual competition. However, they are not advantages for group competition; they are merely disadvantages for individual competition. Schoolwide cooperation is useful, as my opponent has shown. And I agree that competition between schools can lead to cooperation within schools; but there are harmful side effects of inter-school competition, and there are other ways to promote cooperation. School competition can lead to problems, as seen in competition between sports teams; people supporting sports teams sometimes get aggressive towards the opposing team, and in rare cases even kill them [3]. But cooperation can be encouraged in a safer way. For example, there could be some schoolwide goal which must be met. Or there could be an attempt to score better than the previous year. These means enjoy the benefits of competition without the negative side effects.

======
On Discipline:

My opponent has put forth no evidence that school uniforms lead to an increase in discipline. His only evidence is that East Asian schools are more disciplined and they use school uniforms, but I destroyed the possibility of causation in my East Asia section.

"Members of highly disciplined professions like police and the military take pride in their uniforms because they recognize that their professions benefit from."
At first, this claim sounds convincing. But we should remember that my opponent has brought forward zero evidence to support this claim.

"Are the children of parents who impose little discipline in fact happier than those who receive reasonable discipline? They are not."
Once again, my opponent lacks evidence. But even with evidence, there is still no causal link between school uniforms and "reasonable discipline".

======
On Costs:

"They may desire to be fashionable, but the ability to express the desire will be significantly limited by disallowing it at school."
It does not, however, limit their desire nor their ability to purchase fashionable clothing, so expenses remain the same.

"Baltimore parents paid for poor students uniforms and [it] lowered their overall costs."
This claim is unsupported.

In the end, my opponent's arguments about uniforms reducing costs are silly. First, there is no logical way that buying additional material can reduce costs. Second, the matter is trivial. The cost of uniforms was never a major contention for either side.

======
Conclusion

My opponent's arguments against my case rely on leaps of faith, and severely lack evidence. My opponent repeats points that I have already refuted; his entire first paragraph is an example of this. He claims "evidence of experience", despite the fact that he has consistently failed to produce any evidence whatsoever. The Long Beach study unjustifiably makes the leap from correlation to causation, and my opponent has not discussed the Baltimore study at all. In essence, my opponent's case has fallen out from under him, despite his attempts to support it with pretty words and made-up evidence.

My case still stands: school uniforms stifle self-expression; the Brunsma and Rockquemore study showed minimal correlation between uniforms and performance; and, of course, thou shalt not create unnecessary entities. After the fall of my opponent's case, the school uniform is an unnecessary entity. Resolution negated. Vote Con.

========

[1] http://rcp.missouri.edu...
[2] http://www.gate.net...
[3] http://blogs.bet.com...
RoyLatham

Pro

Con initiated the debate and made no opening argument, so to keep the debate balanced at three arguments each, I am passing on the last round.
Debate Round No. 4
41 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
I gave you a detailed RFD with point 1 as an example in a PM. I find it ridiculous that you don't want to debate me because I voted against you. I wonder what will happen to DDO if people start refusing to debate anyone who votes against them.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
I should not have dumped on F_16. His RFD is so lame I couldn't believe he read the debate, but that's just my opinion. He believes it.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
F-16, Votebombing old debates is always great fun, isn't it? We won't debate again, that's all I can guarantee.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Con refutes nearly every point made by Pro and is far more convincing than Pro on the issues of judicial, police, chefs and even uses Pro's argument on the military against him. Pro on the other hand due to lack of evidence tried to squeeze whatever evidence there was from studies that clearly showed otherwise. His analogy of Taiwan etc failed because of cultural differences, the cost argument was entirely conceded and he failed to show why students would use their academics as a creative outlet in the absence of freedom to choose clothes as opposed to the more negative things that Con mentioned. Arguments and sources go to Con. This was a landslide in favor of Con.
Posted by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
m93samman, I don't see any evidence of vote-bombing in this debate.

Regarding the debate itself: I have many debates that I legitimately deserved to lose, but in this case I am quite confident that my arguments were superior. RoyLatham's rhetoric was highly effective, but his logic was not. He failed to show that school uniforms have any significant benefit.
Posted by m93samman 7 years ago
m93samman
why there was such a disproportionately high amount of vote-bombing is beyond me; maybe lots of middle schoolers?
Posted by m93samman 7 years ago
m93samman
Most of Con's arguments seemed seriously logically flawed or deficient. Though they were good, they progressively deteriorated post-Round 2 to what seemed like multiple reiterations of previously made claims that would somehow gain merit through repetition (which, to Con's dismay, they didn't). Pro definitely had some spelling errors, maybe his fingers just skipped a key, but they were there. Debate etiquette- Pro wins, out of his round 4 respect and by providing new arguments every round, not making the claim that he already "addressed the argument", and thereby skipping it unaddressed. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Con had one source that seemed to provide evidence for Pro; specifically [1] in round 3. I found a table that seemed to prove only that uniforms improved performance, had lower drug usage and better behavior; only slightly increased absenteeism was a negative impact, but aside from that it could easily have been cited by Pro.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
All right then.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Point (2) was "It removes the distractions of fashion trends and fashion competition from school hours, thereby reinforcing the educational purpose of the enterprise."
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
You make a good point there, Hgh. But since those points weren't really gone over in the debate, I hope you're not voting based on it.
25 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by DDO.votebombcounter1 4 years ago
DDO.votebombcounter1
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Counter Erick
Vote Placed by Erick 5 years ago
Erick
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: :)
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 5 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: While the cost argument wasn't terribly convincing, the argument that uniforms could focus students (evidenced by top schools all having uniforms) I deemed enough to carry the debate.
Vote Placed by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro did well, but ultimately Con showed that none of the evidence was remotely compelling. Pro's references to Asian school systems clearly doesn't prove anything without addition evidence to prove causation beyond correlation. The same goes for the studies. Con didn't provide a very strong case against the resolution due to lack of space, but I saw the BoP on Roy for this one.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: See the comments section.
Vote Placed by Extremely-Far-Right 6 years ago
Extremely-Far-Right
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by Strayerdog 6 years ago
Strayerdog
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:04 
Vote Placed by Palin2012 6 years ago
Palin2012
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by rougeagent21 7 years ago
rougeagent21
MTGandPRoyLathamTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00