ScissorTales: Following Oklahoma City school policy to a T

The Oklahoman Editorials Published: August 25, 2012

ON the school playground, Cooper Barton was made to turn his T-shirt inside out because it didn't conform to the Oklahoma City school district's dress code policy. The boy was wearing a blue University of Michigan shirt. Policy allows Oklahoma state schools' T-shirts to be worn, such as OU or Oklahoma State, but not others.

Concerns about gang members using clothing from sports teams to identify themselves is what contributed to the district implementing the policy several years ago. But Cooper is 5 years old. He's in kindergarten. “I'm pretty sure he's not a gangbanger,” his father said.

The teacher who ordered Cooper to reverse his shirt was only following policy. But that's the trouble with some policies — they can remove all common sense from the equation. Those charged with carrying out such policies figure that it's better to rigidly adhere to what's in the manual than risk getting called onto the carpet by a superior for not doing so.

The school district plans to review the policy. It should.

Meantime, a nod to Cooper's parents. They weren't happy about the incident, which embarrassed their son, but instead of throwing a fit they counseled the boy thusly: “We explained to him that these are the rules, and we have to follow the rules,” dad Chris Barton said. “But we don't think that this rule is correct.”

Surge and miscue

Support for a Barack Obama second term is surging in Oklahoma, rising from 27 percent in May to 29 percent in August. Yes, we're being facile in our use of the word “surging,” a term only a spin doctor would apply in this situation. says Mitt Romney has the support of 58 percent of Oklahoma voters statewide. The amount is slightly higher in Oklahoma City and lower in Tulsa. Polling took place before Romney named Paul Ryan, whose wife has Oklahoma connections, as his running mate. Obama lost all 77 counties in 2008; indications are that he won't do much better this time around. Then again, a percentage point “surge” here and another one there and pretty soon you're talking about Obama reaching 35 percent! That would be one point higher than he got last time out. Romney wasn't the choice of Oklahoma Republicans in the presidential primary, but neither was Obama in the Democratic primary four years earlier.

Paying a price for their vote

Simply agreeing to let Tulsa County residents decide a proposed sales tax extension got Republican County Commissioners Fred Perry and John Smaligo in trouble with fellow GOP members. The Tulsa County Republican Party County Committee voted overwhelmingly last weekend to censure Perry and Smaligo. The committee comprises all GOP county officeholders, as well as precinct chairs and vice chairs. Committee members oppose a plan to extend a 0.6 percent county sales tax to pay for bond-financed public works projects and upgrades to city-owned industrial facilities at Tulsa International Airport. They apparently felt betrayed that Perry and Smaligo would have the nerve to give county voters a say in the issue. If the proposal passes in November, the two councilors can expect to be labeled as having supported it, even if they did no such thing. Alas, that's life in today's GOP.

Encouraging words

Last month we took to task an Oklahoma tribal official for saying the state's new Native American liaison should be more loyal to Indians than to the state. Instead, the holder of the post shouldn't be partial to either the tribes or state government. We were thus encouraged to read that the first person to hold the job, Jacque Secondine Hensley, believes a liaison “is a person who needs to see both sides.” The job was created when the Legislature abolished the Indian Affairs Commission last year. Hensley, of Kaw descent, will be paid $55,000 a year. Among her duties is to work on agreements between the state and the tribes, including tobacco compacts. That's been a sore point for state officials in connection with the tribe whose chief made the remark about the liaison needing to show bias toward the Indians.

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