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The following appeared as part of a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.
ďBayview High School is considering whether to require all of its students to wear
uniforms while at school. Students attending Acorn Valley Academy, a private
school in town, earn higher grades on average than Bayview students and are more
likely to go on to college. Moreover, Acorn Valley reports few instances of
tardiness, absenteeism, or discipline problems. Since Acorn Valley requires its
students to wear uniforms, Bayview High School would do well to follow suit and
require its students to wear uniforms as well.Ē
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
In this letter to the editor the author argues that Bayview High School should follow the example of Acorn Valley Academy and require
its students to wear uniforms to school. In support of this recommendation the author points to Acornís low rate of absenteeism and
tardiness as well as its lack of discipline problems and superior student performance. The authorís recommendation is questionable for
a number of reasons.
To begin with, the author assumes that all of the stated benefits are a result of Acornís requirement that its students wear uniforms.
On the face of it this appears to be simplistic assumption. It defies common sense to believe, as the author must, that the primary
reason Acornís students receive higher grades on average and are more likely to go on to college is that they are required to wear
uniforms to school. Similarly, the authorís belief that Acornís low rate of tardiness, absenteeism, and discipline problems can be
attributed directly to its dress code is not in accord with common sense.
Next, the author assumes that the only relevant difference between Bayview and Acorn is the wearing of school uniforms. This
assumption is not supported in the argument. Moreover, if it turns out that Acornís students are gifted and highly motivated to learn
whereas Bayviewís are unexceptional and lack motivation to learn, common sense indicates that Acornís students would be more likely to
perform better and cause fewer problems than Bayviewís.
Finally, it is unclear whether Bayview suffers from any of the problems the author wishes to correct by mandating its students to wear
uniforms. For example, the author states that Acornís students earn higher grades on average and are more likely to go on to college,
but it is unclear whether this is a comparison to Bayviewís students or to some other group. Lacking assurance that Bayview is deficient
in the categories mentioned in the letter, it is difficult to accept the authorís recommendation.
In conclusion, the author has failed to provide compelling reasons for the recommendation that Bayviewís students be required to wear
uniforms. To strengthen the argument the author would have to provide evidence for the assumption that Acornís requirement that
students wear uniform is responsible for the various benefits mentioned. Additionally, it would have to be established that Bayview is
similar in relevant respects to Acorn and suffers from the problems that the authorís remedy is intended to correct.