An Ethics Riddle: What Do You Get When You Cross The Oklahoma Valedictorian Flap With The Delta T-Shirt Controversy?

Give up?

Pure evil.

The answer is that you get kindergarten student Cooper Barton of Oklahoma City being forced by his teacher and principal to turn his T-shirt inside out under threat of discipline because it celebrated the University of Michigan, and the city’s Soviet dress code requires that school children may only wear apparel supporting Oklahoma colleges, such as Oklahoma University or Oklahoma State University.  Cooper’s mother told the news media that her son had to hide behind a tree to turn his shirt inside-out, and that he was embarrassed by the affair. “They should really worry about academics. It wasn’t offensive. He’s five,” she said.

Gee, ya think?

What they really should worry about is that a public grade school is dictating athletic team allegiances, which is so far outside the proper exercise of school authority that you can’t see it with the Hubble telescope. A spokesperson for the school district acknowledged that the policy might be a little “outdated.” Yes, and a spokesperson for Fairness and Common Sense, me, acknowledges that the school’s principal, teacher and anyone else involved with bullying a little 5-year-old boy because his parents put him in the garb of their alma mater might be too incompetent and foolish to be trusted around children. In fact, they are.

At least they didn’t kick Cooper off an airplane.


Pointer: Legal Blog Watch

Facts: OKCPS

Graphic: NY Daily News

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

4 thoughts on “An Ethics Riddle: What Do You Get When You Cross The Oklahoma Valedictorian Flap With The Delta T-Shirt Controversy?

  1. The official explanation is that sports apparel can be code for gang affiliation. (Presumably, Sooner/Cowboy merch is just too common to enforce.) That idea actually has a little merit; the policy still has none, and this example of its enforcement has negative infinity merit.

  2. The city code may prohibit everything but apparel from Oklahoma colleges, but the principal is prohibiting everything but OU and OSU. This policy has been in force since 2005 and this is apparently the first complaint about it. My suspicion is that the teacher and principal are either big OU or OSU fans and they decided to use the policy to punish people who don’t follow their religion. It is unlikely that no one has sent their child to school in a non-OU/non-OSU shirt in 7 years. Either this policy hasn’t been enforced, or it has been enforced in a more reasonable fashion (a note has been sent home explaining the policy).
    I hope the U of M alumni association urges all parents to show up at the school board meeting in their Michigan apparel. Perhaps, in an unprecedented show of tolerance and goodwill, they could invite the MSU and The Ohio State University alumni as well. Go Blue!

  3. One more example of public school totalitarianism. Public schools were first instituted to create good and efficient “workers” (read your history) while the country was run by the elite. All we have now is morons teaching kids to be morons, too. Considering the electorate we have now, I am afraid of what we’ll find in 16 or 17 years…

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