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ERIC Number: EJ908412
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1744-9642
Mandatory School Uniforms and Freedom of Expression
Vopat, Mark C.
Ethics and Education, v5 n3 p203-215 Nov 2010
On 10 December 2007 the Akron City School Board--following the precedent set by many school systems across the United States and the world--instituted a policy of mandatory school uniforms for all students in grades K-8. The measure was met with mixed reviews. While many parents supported the measure, a small group of parents from a selective, arts-focussed, middle school (grades 4-8) objected to the policy. It was their contention that children attending this particular school should be exempt from the policy since their children were particularly creative, and the new policy constituted an unjust infringement of their child's freedom of expression. In this article I argue that the actions of the school board, while antithetical to freedom of expression in general, do not violate the children's freedom of expression since such a right cannot properly be said to apply to the majority of children within this age group. In arguing this position, I draw on two primary ideas. The first is based on the idea that children's rights exist on a continuum from rights that protect their interests to those that protect their choices. Since the majority of children at the age specified by the policy fall on the interest side of the rights spectrum, restricting their liberty with respect to dress is not morally problematic. Secondly, I draw upon the idea of the distinction between "mere expression" as opposed to "substantive expression" to argue that most children, particularly those in the pre-teen years, lack the cognitive ability to exercise the latter. (Contains 11 notes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 1; Grade 2; Grade 3; Grade 4; Grade 5; Grade 6; Grade 7; Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Kindergarten; Middle Schools; Primary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ohio