Saturday, February 6, 2010

I fought the law, and I won....

I apologize to all my readers, er ok, both my readers, but this is neither "one minute" nor Cubs.

Shawn Wasson, a.k.a. "The News Junkie" was broadcasting his usual show on Saturday morning. He was reporting a story in which a principal sent a student home for wearing the wrong jersey to school. According to Wasson, The principal singled the student out in class, berated the student publicly, then denied the student his education by sending him home for supporting the wrong team. He and I needed to have a chat - Email sent:

Greetings News Junkie,

I happened across your radio program on my lunch break earlier, and unfortunately, did not have time to call in - 30 minutes just isn't as long as it used to be. You were discussing the merits of a principal sending home a 17 year old student for wearing a Colts jersey on Black and Gold day. So I found the following story, and wanted to comment on your position:,2933,584975,00.html?test=latestnews

First of all, while requiring student to wear uniforms is not a popular stance among the students, one could easily argue that wearing standard uniforms in an academic environment is considered a normal practice by schools across the country. The theories behind adherence to a dress code range from child safety to student focus on curriculum. Whether or not the practice of a dress code policy is right or not is not in question here. The problem comes when the school relaxes those policies for whatever reason.

According to the news article, "A Livingston Parish School Board member said Frost wasn't sent home, but was told he couldn't wear the blue jersey at school. Keith Martin, whose district includes Maurepas, said the school uniform had been relaxed only for black and gold."

Please note the two phrases - "Frost wasn't sent home" and "the school uniform had been relaxed only for black and gold". It is not uncommon for schools to allow "Dress down days" or similar practices for special events such as fundraisers, sports teams, school spirit, etc. In this case, the school relaxed their policies to support the New Orleans Saints team in the Super bowl. The school did not require any student to wear the Saints' colors. It offered them the option.

The article goes on -
"According to Martin, a friend of Brandon Frost's had asked Vampran on Thursday whether Brandon could wear a Colts jersey, and had been told "no."" - self explanatory

"During a class on Thursday, Frost said, he talked about his plans to wear his jersey rather than Saints colors. He said the teacher warned him he'd get in trouble." - Self explanatory. He's been told no twice.

"Larry Frost said he didn't know about that when Brandon asked Thursday whether he could wear the jersey. He said he told his son to come home if he was hassled too much." - Sounds like Dad is the one sending him home.

"Brandon Frost said Vampran called him out of his first class Friday and told him, "I don't recall saying you could wear a Colts jersey on Black-and-Gold Day."" - 100% accurate. The Principal did not say the student could wear "any jersey". - Please note "Called him out of his class" - he did not confront the student in front of other students as you suggested on your show.

""He started to get angry with me," Frost said. "I thought I remember him saying, 'If you like Indiana so much, why don't you go back?"'" What? You mean a principal got upset when a student - who had already been told he was wrong twice - started mouthing off to him about a jersey. I particularly like the sentence "I thought I remember him saying..." You mean as opposed to "You're going to have to change shirts"?

Then Dad, decides to call the ACLU about this affront to his son's free speech. This isn't free speech. This is a t-shirt. This is a dress code. Even the ACLU doesn't want to take that one on.

I could frankly go on and on, but at the end of the day, when you send your child to school, you are not buying "an education". You are paying for the teachers to dispense knowledge at a facility. This facility has rules and regulations for a reason. Flagrant disregard of these rules make for a hostile learning environment. Teachers have a hard enough time teaching. Telling 17 year old kids that they do not have to honor those rules that are put place to facilitate learning only leads to a breakdown in the learning process - more so than asking a kid to change his shirt or go home.

I am willing to concede that perhaps the principal did say the remark about going back to Indiana, only because as the article state, he acknowledged that he should not have done so. If so, that was wrong. But not ACLU wrong. However inappropriate, I can only guess what equally inappropriate/downright offensive things the student in questions must've said in the exchange. You'll notice those quotes were left out of the paper.

Bottom line: even if this dress code policy was not written down or set in stone, two things remain clear:
1. The student was told no, 2 1/2 times. Twice in school, and one half when the father admitted that there may be trouble. While he didn't say it wasn't allowed, granting permission to come home if there's trouble seems to be at least a tacit acknowledgement that this is not - for lack of better words - "a good idea"

2. The student clearly violated the spirit of the rule. Black and gold day was clearly meant to celebrate the home town's team and their accomplishment. Not only did the student violate that rule, he completely went in the opposite direction. I somehow think that if the students were told to wear school colors, and this student wore something not in the school colors and he were sent home, this would not be an issue.

This was a 17 year old kid flagrantly violating a rule, and being allowed to do so by his parents, the neighborhood, the newspaper, and the ACLU. Clearly THAT is the wrong message to be sending - not "my team is better than yours".

1 comment:

Bruce Fraser said...

Re your concluding paragraph: "This was a 17 year old kid flagrantly violating a rule..."

You got that right. The whole point that you're missing is that the rule itself is a flagrant violation of rules.
Let's change the scenario just slightly. Suppose the governor of the state is the Democrat candidate for President. On election day, student are encouraged to wear Democrat colors or, if they wish, the school's usual colors. No Republican garb will be tolerated.

The principle is the same, but I bet you wouldn't judge that the same way.