At the five Watson Chapel schools in Pine Bluff, Ark., junior high students are a sea of burgundy, green, and white. The elementary school kids can wear blue. Parents like the idea—it's easier to dress their kids—and kids say it eliminates competition to dress the best.

Watson Chapel is one of many districts experimenting with dress codes this year in the hope of reducing the risk of violence and other behavior problems. But critics of dress ...

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