By: Eric Thomas

I ignored the Cooper Barton story, the tale of the Kindergarten kid that wasn’t allowed to wear a University of Michigan shirt in his school. I ignored it because it’s stupid from top to bottom, and please don’t think that I am going to spend one sentence of this blog ripping on the kid. I’m not. He looks a lot like my kid brother. Cooper himself should be applauded. He managed to show, by simply wearing a shirt, how stupid all of the adults at his school are.

Cooper was not allowed to wear his shirt at school because of Anti-Gang laws. Yes. The Oklahoma public school system banned all shirts with “Non-Oklahoma” Universities on them. Cooper, in wearing this shirt, attracted a vigilant and watchful eye. The person with the watchful eye luckily works at a professional learning institution and made Cooper turn the shirt inside out, saving the Oklahoma area from the coming Kindergarten gangland explosion that would have been guaranteed if the shirt had remained “tag-side” in.

This school employee should be given a medal. It’s well documented how quickly four and five year olds can turn their elementary schools into a scene from “The Warriors.” If one kid is allowed to wear a Michigan shirt, you’re only days away from big wheels outfitted with bomb stereo systems. Then hours later the beat-ins start under the monkey bars and kids start pouring the first sip of milk on the carpet for their homies. Weeks later a turf battle erupts over graham crackers, snitches get noogies, and stolen noses will not be returned.

You hear about this all the time in schools. Local boards introduce their ‘Zero-tolerance policies’ with poked chests, excited to lay out the paper that contains the proper panacea for all future violence and discourse. These policies are always sweeping and brought down to protect. They are to be applied without mercy. If a little kid brings a butter knife to school to put peanut butter onto crackers, he must be suspended for weeks because he brought a weapon. These policies are to be adhered to without question and without any regard or thought. Because if there is one place that thought and debate should be completely cast aside, it’s at an institution of learning.

The employee who asked Cooper to turn his shirt inside out should be publicly named and excoriated. This person actually fired a series of synapses to connect the dots between a Kindergartners’ shirt and gangs. How could anyone whose intelligence is above room temperature spend actual time trying to figure out if his or her Kindergarten class was developing a gang problem? Some people might defend the school, saying that this was the policy. Please. Rules that are stupid and wrong should be ignored. If the person giving orders gives orders that are morally reprehensible (‘5 year olds could develop gangs’), then it’s on you. Remember ‘I was just following orders’ is no excuse when adjudication comes. Of course, they hide that information in history books.

The people who came up with this lamebrain policy should be laughed at, and the person who enforced it spit upon. Society decided to cast a wide net, trying to hammer down errant nails and exterminating any original thought or creativity. There is a lot of money to be made these days blaming teachers for the failing education system, but how can they be the problem? They have to adhere to an increasingly encyclopedic amount of rules dropped from a series of administrators that think that thought, discussion and deliberation are to be abhorred and avoided.

Cooper Barton’s father, when interviewed by a local television station, felt like it was necessary to say on camera, “We didn’t intend to hurt no body (sic) with this.”

He actually felt like he had to clear this up, because his Kindergartener was accused of gang activity. Let’s be clear and full throated about this. The policy, and the person, who made Cooper turn his shirt out was not intelligent. That person and the board that voted on it are incapable of applying mental weight. This is not an admirable trait for someone who works at a school.

If you think that these policies are necessary to ensure safety, let me remind you of something. “They, who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.” It’s never too early to applaud admirable traits.


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