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Rhetorical Analysis of Article 1, Logical Fallacies and Persuasive Essay on School Uniforms

Part One: Rhetorical Analysis, Logical Fallacies (25 Marks)

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Read Article 1 (“The Downsides of School Uniforms” by Mark Oppenheimer). After reading, complete a rhetorical analysis of the article. You should structure your response in paragraph form, and your analysis should include the following:

  • A statement about the author’s purpose
  • One example of a fact
  • One example of a claim
  • Examples of at least tworhetorical strategies. Explain how the author’s specific strategies work to make the article persuasive.

Following this analysis, think about any logical fallacies within the article. If you can find one, explain it. If there are none, explain briefly what makes the logic in this paper sound.

Read Article 2 (“School Uniforms, Dress Codes, and Free Expression: What’s the Balance?” by Julie Underwood) and complete an audience analysis: who is the intended audience for this piece?

Consider the research found in Article 1 and Article 2. Each author offers different points to consider in regards to the pros and cons of school uniforms being mandatory in schools. After considering the research, form your own opinion and write a persuasive essay on whether you support or contest (argue against) mandatory school uniforms for highschool students. Prove your opinion using evidence from the articles.

Your persuasive essay should include:

  • An introduction and brief conclusion
  • Body paragraphs
  • Quotes from both articles to support your claims, with proper in-text citations
  • Reference to a counterargument which you introduce and disprove

Your essay requires in-text citations in MLA format, but it does not require a Works Cited list. Use the page numbers of the Word document as your page numbers.

Many school leaders believe that uniforms help, although they can’t seem to agree on why.

My daughter’s school uniform, required by the public magnet middle school where she began sixth grade last week, is perfectly nice. It’s not so much a single uniform as a broad wardrobe of coordinated prep-wear: skirts or pants, paired with piqué polo shirts, all in “goldenrod yellow,” navy, or white, topped off by a fleece zip-up (on which the school crest is optional). For her first day, she chose the navy skirt with the white polo. As she walked to the corner to catch the bus, I was reminded of a time when our schools were orderly, our teachers respected, and our children all above average.

That was an imaginary time, of course, but nostalgia for it has helped to create the modern school-uniform movement, which has won the kind of broad indeed, nearly uniform support that exists for no other educational policy, or social policy, that one can think of. Although there isn’t a scholarly consensus that uniforms do anything to improve student achievement or school climate, about one-fifth of all public-school students now wear them. They are one of the few interventions on which charter-school advocates and anti-charter activists agree.

Part Two: Audience Analysis (15 Marks)

Even the students have gone along, in one of the great surrenderings of liberty in modern history. For, although we think of uniforms as a reclamation of the olden days, they are relatively new in this country. Against British Commonwealth traditions, we were the free and easy New World, the country where children dressed themselves. For the most part, the appearance of students was governed only by the nagging of parents (“Get a haircut!”); informal norms (T-shirts were for athletics, not the school day); and deference to teachers and principals, who had wide discretion to tell a boy that he looked like a hoodlum, or tell a girl that her hemline was inappropriately short.

School uniforms, while growing in popularity everywhere, have really become a feature of poor schools. According to a 2016 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, school uniforms are required at fifty-three percent of schools where three-quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. But, of schools where fewer than a quarter of students are so eligible, only four per cent require uniforms.

These uniforms have become a rich revenue source for kiddie-clothing companies like French Toast, which has a verbose Web site dedicated to their magical properties. One typical section makes the argument that “school uniforms bring an image of success to students and teachers.” But that depends how one defines success. In Silicon Valley, on Ivy League campuses, and even in a growing number of white-shoe firms, the rule is to dress down. While once upon a time each profession had its uniform—the gray-flannel suit, the white coat—today, the most successful people wear what they want, especially in the more creative industries.

Many school leaders believe that uniforms help, although they can’t seem to agree on why. It’s student achievement, or “school pride,” or a perceived reduction in fighting. When independent researchers have tried to quantify such claims, they have had mixed results. One widely cited study, on schools in Long Beach, California, showed a decrease in school crime after the introduction of uniforms, but the city had taken many other measures to reduce violence at the same time, so it’s hard to tease out how much uniforms mattered. Many studies show no change in school culture, and some even show negative results: in one 2007 study, the introduction of uniforms accompanied an increase in the average number of assaults in one district’s violent schools.

Part Three: Persuasive Essay (60 Marks)

One good friend of mine, a superintendent of a charter-school network, who spoke to me off the record, swears that introducing uniforms where he works changed the culture overnight, increased respect, and improved students’ ability to learn. He may be right. And, if uniforms are viewed positively by students, parents, and administrators alike—as they are—then it can seem precious to object to them. To some extent, enthusiasm about school culture is a good in itself; even if it doesn’t yield higher test scores or graduation rates, perhaps it leads to better teacher retention or recruitment. Maybe the aesthetics of color-coordinated order just make everyone in the building happier. One 2002 study of Texas middle-school students found that those in uniform had a stronger sense of “belonging” in their school community. That’s worth something.

But, so long as the evidence for these claims is thin, I am more concerned about what we know to be true: that uniforms are yet one more way that the surveillance of the un-powerful—the poor, people of color, and that great unheard group of the young—has become increasingly acceptable. “Campuses increasingly subject students to police surveillance techniques, including drug-sniffing dogs, metal detectors, surveillance cameras, random sweeps for contraband including bag searches, and drug tests,” Ahrens and Siegel write. As students become “proper subjects for policing,” they argue, it’s no surprise that we presume to tell them what to wear.

Uniforms can be liberating, in the way that the absence of choice is. My daughter is only a few days into her school year, yet she already says that uniforms simplify her morning. But, as our society reckons once more with the costs and burdens of free expression, we should remember that not so long ago teen-agers fought for their right to black armbands. While in theory the right to such overt political expression—the armband, the political button or patch—would still be upheld by courts, the spirit behind that freedom has disappeared. We’ve stopped thinking of our sons and daughters as citizens whose independence we want to cultivate by, as much as possible, getting out of the way.

Selections From “School Uniforms, Dress Codes, And Free Expression: What’s The Balance?’ Julie is the Susan Engeleiter Professor of Education Law, Policy, and Practice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

More and more public schools are adopting school uniform policies. In 2013, 23% of public elementary schools and 15% of public high schools required students to wear uniforms — up from 3% of all schools in 1996 (NCES, 2016). Most of the schools adopting these policies have a high percentage of low-income students. These schools include, for example, 80% of Chicago public schools. How is this possible in a climate where there is so much litigation and publicity regarding lawsuits about students’ rights to express themselves through dress — particularly T-shirts? The push for school uniforms started in 1996, when the U.S. Department of Education urged the adoption of school uniforms as a strategy for reducing school violence. The focus then was on potential discipline and safety benefits, including:

  • Decreasing violence and theft;
  • Preventing gang members from wearing gang colors and insignia at school;
  • Instilling students with discipline;
  • Helping parents and students resist peer pressure; and
  • Helping school officials recognize nonstudents who may be in the school.

The Downsides Of School Uniforms

More recently, proponents of school uniforms have argued that they improve student achievement and student test scores, although the research is mixed on both these claims and the claims of improved student discipline.

What about free expression? Of course, a student’s dress can be a form of expression — a bold statement of one’s own persona or political views. This can be especially true for high school students. Because dress may convey a message, the First Amendment comes into play in determining how far a school district can go in regulating what students wear. Schools may restrict a student’s speech if:

  • The school expects the speech to substantially disrupt the educational process or setting: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
  • It is plainly lewd or vulgar: Bethel School District v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
  • It promotes illegal activity, including drug use: Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007).

If a school precludes a particular message from being conveyed, courts have consistently held that the students’ rights have been violated unless one of these exceptions is found. But the implementation of a uniform policy is different.

What sets these broad uniform policies apart from dress codes is that they are content and viewpoint neutral — that is, they don’t differentiate between and among forms of political speech, gang-related speech, or religious speech. Instead, uniform policies ban everything across the board. Theoretically, the courts consider this a type of “time, place, and manner restriction” on speech. Time, place, and manner restrictions limit all speech within a location or during a particular time — for example, disallowing demonstrations at a board meeting or requiring a parade permit in a city. To be constitutional, such restrictions must be content and viewpoint neutral, serve a significant government interest, and leave open alternative channels of communication. That is, they don’t differentiate among messages, they are intended to protect the original purpose of the forum, and they don’t ban speech forever.

Uniform policies must pass muster under this time, place, and manner restriction rather than having to show that the speech the school is trying to ban is disruptive, lewd, or promoting of illegal activity. For example, in Canady v. Bossier Parish Sch. Bd, 240 F. 3d 437 (5th Cir. 2001), the school uniform policy allowed for two colors of polo or button-down shirts and navy or khaki bottoms. When parents challenged the policy as a violation of their children’s right to expression, the court found that although dress could be a form of expression protected by the First Amendment, the policy could be upheld if it 1) furthered an important or substantial government interest, 2) the interest was unrelated to the suppression of student expressions, and 3) the restrictions on the speech were no more than necessary to further the state interest.

When schools implement dress codes on a student-by-student basis, they sometimes run into legal trouble. For example, courts have sided with students, upholding the right to wear “I love Boobies” bracelets (to promote breast cancer awareness),

Considering the legal difficulty in administering dress codes, you would think it would be extremely difficult to uphold a school policy that bans certain forms of student expression by requiring school uniforms. But, in fact, it seems easier (legally) for schools to control student dress with a wholesale approach, like uniforms, rather than dealing with individual situations or a list of apparel to be excluded in a dress code policy. Perhaps in part because of this difference, many schools have moved to adopt the stricter uniform policy.

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