The Day the T-shirts Died: School Uniform Trend in the US Continues to Grow

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Middle and high school students in Conway, NH, are the latest students to be subjected to the growing trend of school uniforms for students in the US, with t-shirts now completely banned by the Conway school district.

some very small but significant negative findings on academic achievement

The Conway School District in Conway, NH, recently joined the growing trend of issuing school uniforms, by issuing preliminary approval of a new dress code policy to its Kennett Middle and High School students, banning not only revealing clothing such as spaghetti straps, but even basic t-shirts. The new dress code cites respect for one's appearance as one reason for the uniform policy, while school board member Deb Deschenes added "when you go into the work field, all sorts of different jobs require uniforms and that you look presentable." Despite the school district's and others' arguments for school uniforms, the issue is still far from agreed upon as a standard for schools in the US.

"It's almost funny to hear something like 'concern for personal appearance' used as a justification for school uniforms, when the uniforms actually take that concern and choice away from students," says William Barnes, co-owner of, a t-shirt design and manufacturer in touch with youth fashion trends. "Rather than teaching kids how to respect themselves by actually choosing a positive image rather than showing cleavage, underwear, or inappropriate images, parents and school administrators take away the need to make the right choices, making things easier on themselves while not teaching kids a skill which really does come into play in the workplace later in life ... being able to make appropriate choices. The real world won't hand-feed them."

While most school districts enforcing uniforms or strict dress policies have the best interests of students and parents at heart, the data doesn't always back up the claims of improvements. While better academic performance is often cited as a reason for school uniforms, the dress code policies in the US actually originated in the 1980s as a means of counteracting gang affiliations in schools. In fact, Professor David Brunsma of the University of Missouri-Columbia stated in a 2006 BBC article on school uniforms that ten years of research have shown that "emphatically there really is no difference between students who are forced to wear uniforms and those who are not." He also claimed to have found "some very small but significant negative findings on academic achievement" relating to students and school uniforms.

"One of the most common supporting arguments for school uniforms is that the actual uniformity will somehow protect kids from bullying," says Barnes. "Maybe that was true ten years ago, but we live in a day and age where individuality is not only prized but often necessary to succeed, and where the nerd culture formerly subjected to some of the worst ridicule is now considered 'chic.'"

About was launched in 2004 by Myke Armstrong and Jacob Fatoorechi, and was incorporated into the MyFatRobot family of sites in April 2006 by Myke, Jacob, and William Barnes. NerdyShirts offers original funny, nerdy, and nostalgic tee shirts all printed on 100 percent cotton American Apparel shirts. In addition to all original designs, NerdyShirts buys full designs and even design concepts from site visitors or customers, and offers an affiliate program for tee shirt sales. New designs are released every Monday, and most are available in both men's and women's sizes.

For additional information about, or the new Magic! design, please visit, or contact William Barnes at 310-746-8990.


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