Opinion: Education, Not University T-shirts, Should Be The Focus

Experts at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy today reminded Oklahoma City Public School administrators that they should be concerned with educating students, instead of quashing support for outside universities shown by students who wear their t-shirts to school.

“A school district where the reading achievement of the average student is abysmal (at the 32nd percentile relative to an international comparison group) really should be worrying about more important things than T-shirts,” said Brandon Dutcher, OCPA vice president of policy.
“Oklahoma City students need to be able to read so they can learn about the Bill of Rights and the American tradition of liberty. They need to know the constitutional freedoms they possess, and not grow up thinking the government has absolute power to tell them what to do.”
The school district is, unwittingly, teaching Cooper and his peers a great deal about freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is a principle that Cooper will, hopefully, learn as his education progresses. Sadly, school officials are teaching him today that such expression is only allowed when it’s in support of the ‘right’ university,” said Audrey Spalding, education policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

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  1. Pat McFerron, 23 August, 2012

    I normally agree with Brandon — but he is a little off here. The reason for this rule was to make the schools a safer learning environment. It was at the urging of law enforcement that this rule was put into effect to cut down on gang violence. My wife is a public school teacher in the Oklahoma City district, and because of my conversations with her, I think it has made a difference. For years, she has spoken of the gang influence she sees in the elmentary level. It is a concern.

    I do get concerned that the zero tolerance exhibited in this case was bizarre. A more reasonable approach would have been to send a note explaining the why the rule is in place.

    The schools, however, cannot engage in selective compliance — else they will hear screams of racism or some other form of discrimination.

    I am certain Brandon would agree that a dress code (unfortunately) is needed to create a positive learning environment. To have children focused on learning instead of gang affiliation has been the goal of this rule.


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