Besides school districts requiring various forms of RFID tracking devices to monitor students (for the illusion of safety) and the school system choosing to serve completely nutritionally devoid food in cafeterias, students now also have to worry about their freedom of expression.
Earlier in August, five-year-old Cooper Barton wore a Michigan shirt to Wilson Elementary in Oklahoma City.
However, Barton was told to turn his shirt inside out because it violated dress code policy.
Students are only allowed to wear clothes emblazoned with the emblems of certain sports teams including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or any other teams that represent other Oklahoma institutions.
The reason this form of dress code exists is supposedly due to gang activity.
“This has presented an opportunity to review the current OKCPS District Dress Code Policy that has been in place since 2005. It states that clothing bearing names or emblems of all professional and collegiate athletic teams (with the exception of Oklahoma colleges and universities) are prohibited. In cooperation with the Oklahoma City Police Department Gang Task Force, the policy was approved in 2005 after concerns that nationwide gangs used popular sports clothing to represent individual gangs. As when any policy is questioned; OKCPS administration will review the policy to determine if changes need to be made,” stated Karl Springer, Superintendent.
What’s the worst thing Barton can do? Create a black market by selling Capri Sun to his classmates in order to protest the beverages being served for lunch? As we all know, that scenario could be a gateway crime.
Oklahoma is not the only school to enact a dress code policy addressing the issue of gangs.
Weld County District 6, in Colorado, has had a rule in place for more than three years stating numbers 13, 14, 18, 31, 41 and 81 are banned due to gangs using those affiliations.
Therefore, students in that district are not allowed to wear a Peyton Manning jersey, given the fact his number is 18.
“We’re Broncos fans ourselves; it has nothing to do with that. We’re just wanting to set a consistent solid, example,” said district spokesperson Roger Fiedler.
If school administrators are creating these policies in order to discourage gang behavior (they should concentrate more of an effort on academics), it will not work, since it only limits well-meaning individuals’ liberty and secondly, gangs don’t listen to rules.
Numbers, like anything else, are just abstract creations that have become part of the norm. These are obviously necessary to carry out basic functions in a society.
Colors or clothes do not make a person commit crime; it’s all about what the person actually does, not what they are wearing while they do it. If this were the case, then everyone might think that a person who wears red is aggressive or if black is worn, the individual has a tortured soul.
If inanimate objects are going to be blamed, then I can nonsensically claim that my average math skills are my pencil’s fault.
Lastly, just because I’m a Green Bay Packer fan does not mean I fit the stereotype of an excessive “beer drinking, bratwurst lover.”
While I support the Oklahoma superintendents’ review of the policy, I hope other school districts follow suit and use more common sense discretion when they create policy.
As Mark Twain wrote, “Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.”