Letters to the Editor

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EDUCATION: Bad call by parents, TNT

Letter by Harriet Maines, Tacoma on Jan. 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm with 36 Comments »
January 18, 2011 5:11 pm

Re: “Tacoma school throws flag at Steelers jersey” (TNT, 1-15).

How can you glorify a student for disobeying school rules and his father for rewarding him by keeping him home? Why run a front-page article validating a parent and child who seem to place no value in the child’s education?

It’s hard to teach a child who isn’t in the classroom. It’s very hard to teach children whose parents teach them that they don’t have to follow rules they don’t like. Guess what? These children apply that attitude to such rules as go to school, listen in class, don’t disrupt, do your work and turn it in.

As a newspaper, your message seems to be that if kids aren’t learning it’s entirely the schools’ fault. Students have taken that message to mean that they are not required to put any effort or thinking into their own education.

Teachers, on the other hand, are working very hard to make interesting lesson plans, deal with disrupters and raise test scores while trying to make learning more fun. Apparently, the staff at Truman was trying to add a little fun by adding a “Seahawks option” to the dress code. Thanks to all the support and news coverage, I’ll bet they won’t do that again.

Teaching and learning is a participation sport; you can’t watch it from the sidelines. It requires the dedicated involvement of all: the teacher, the student, his adult support person and society at large. Similar to the officials at Super Bowl XL, The News Tribune is making poor calls.

Leave a comment Comments → 36
  1. If you support this discriminatory rule that gives a benefit to one group while ostracizing another, please tell me what the reasons are. If it is to “have a little fun”, as the letter states then why couldn’t the Steeler fan have a little fun, too. The rule was neither fair not treated all students equally. When will this boy get his exception to the dress code? This is not a private school. This is paid for by taxes, and equal treatment should be a top priority.

    I am glad that we banned “Because I said so” as a response to our children when they asked why they had to follow certain rules. It helped us think through our teaching process and helped them learn that it is important to follow certain rules, but questioning authority is also a healthy endeavor.

  2. Harriet,

    The TNT blog won’t allow myself to repeat myself from a response to an earlier letter similar to yours so I’ll reference it here:


  3. Turning the wearing of a jersey other than Seahawks into an issue was a mistake. What a waste of school time!
    Since the deviation from acceptable school attire was unforeseen by school authorities, it should be a lesson fro the future to think things through beforehand. If the “wrong team’s” jersey had been ignored, the school day could have proceeded without the actions of school authorities looking foolish.

  4. bobcat1a says:

    I am astounded at the number of people who believe that simply not liking a rule is justification for defying it. I keep hearing people reminisce about how great things were in the old days. I’d like to see how a school in the fifties or sixties when I was in school would have dealt with a defiance of dress code. Boy’s hair touching his ears or collar…sent home. Girl wearing pants rather than skirt…sent home. Class disruptions…near zero.

  5. cclngthr says:

    The issue people have was the rule change was to support ONE team, not any other team. The rule was to wear Seahawk green and blue. Why only Seahawks? Is the Seahawk team the only team possible? Why not other teams?

  6. bobcat, I doubt even more that in the “good old days” there would have been a special day set up for a select group of students to wear a pro football jersey – especially at the exclusion of others (unless you grew up in the Jim Crow South – when whole schools were excluded from the “fun” of having things like new text books or even school bus service).

    It’s never ever fun being excluded. Now I understand that many students may have just wore their “regular” dress code attire – possibly because they saw no fun in wearing a football teams jersey at all. But the kid involved had no choice, he either had to wear a team’s jersey he wasn’t a fan of, or not participate in the “fun” day at all. Him being a Steeler fan, I am sure he was one who can categorically be termed “left out” – as opposed to some who could have cared less about this “special day” – which smacks of favoritism.

    It astounds me that some take a more serious view of a kid having fun versus a dimwitted principal who created this unnecessary distraction from the real business of a school.

  7. spotted1 says:

    Folks, quit yer whining. The school set a rule. The child asked about it, was told NO, and the parents told the kid to ignore the rule. The child was asked to take it off, said NO, then the parents took the kid home.

    I guess we are not allowed to support our own home team without supporting everyone else’s home team as well. I guess the rules set in place by the school don’t mean anything.

  8. It was a stupid rule. Get past it already.

  9. spotted, “our home team”? Speak for yourself. Everyone knows that the Cowboys are “America’s Team!”

    I might agree with you if it was the school’s team they were talking about. However, this is a pro sport team, for profit, and certainly not everyone’s favorite. Discrimination and disruption caused by bureaucrats.

  10. cclngthr says:

    The purpose of the rule change of not wearing the standard uniform was to support the Seahawks, by wearing blue and green. Why make a rule that forces someone to be a fan of a team that some people don’t want to be a fan of. Why only the Seahawks?

  11. It’s clear we’re not going to agree on whether the rule itself was stupid or not, but I really can’t believe we all don’t agree this kid’s behavior was out of line. He was disobedient and disrespectful. That’s never okay.

    Civil disobedience can be a great tool in the name of progress, but why waste it on something so meaningless as a shirt?

  12. cc — Because, you &*$!, IT’S OUR LOCAL TEAM! The principal did not arbitrarily choose a team to support. Get out a map. It’s the closest NFL team to us. Sheesh. You make it sound like some devious plot to deliberately alienate people who don’t care about football.

    And for the bazillionth thime, NO ONE was forced to wear Seahawks colors. You just could if you wanted to.

  13. ronnieview, the main issue for me is an adult administrator for one of our public schools made a slight misjudgment by making something a “fun day” exception of the rules for only some of the kids. The “choice” as you and others believe is to either participate in wearing Seahawk gear or wear standard dress- meaning don’t participate at all. For many kids, it was a choice to simply not participate. For one kid it was being “left out” of showing support for HIS team. He pulled a stunt, but the adult in this farce did not diffuse the issue created by her misjudgment – making her as subject of ridicule.

    The best I’ll do is put the 13 year old down as pulling a 13 year old-type of stunt – and then put the principal down as the numnutz creator of a special day which was not all inclusive for ALL students – not for the students who could care less about the Seahawks, and most certainly not the one kid who probably has more right to be proud of wearing his Steeler gear (6 Super Bowl wins).

    To me the adult in this farce will always come away with egg on their face.
    I’ll bet 20 years from now this kid will still be retelling his stunt – and hopefully the principal will regret making a “Seahawk jersey” day something that put her in the news.

  14. northsc — Ouch. You really think this kid has such a zero future lined up that wearing the wrong shirt one day in middle school will still be a conversational piece? And that anyone else will be interested in hearing it? Hopefully he’ll have better things going on by then, otherwise he’ll end up like the big jock from my jr. high days. I run into him every couple of years and sure enough, he always tries to start a conversation about jr. high. We’re 40. He’s still single.

    My kid’s school allowed Seahawk colors last Friday. It worked out just fine.

  15. So, what is a Seahawk anyway?

  16. RonnieW says, “Hopefully he’ll have better things going on by then, otherwise he’ll end up like the big jock from my jr. high days. I run into him every couple of years and sure enough, he always tries to start a conversation about jr. high. We’re 40. He’s still single.”

    Reminds me of that George Carlin skit…(paraphrase) ” I dont care about my class reunion, I don’t need to know what the captain of the football team is doing..I know what he’s doing….He cuts my grass!!”

  17. hansgruber says:

    The student broke a rule, was encouraged by his parents to break the rule, and was punished for breaking the rule. Should have been the end of story…but nooooooo!

    The press gets a hold of it and blows it up into a glorification of justifying breaking rules. No wonder our country is a mess.

    Schools without parental support will fail.

  18. Mudwhistle_Lightening says:

    Geez people, the Steelers beat your butts good. Your crappy football team lost the Superbowl and will never, ever return. That’s what happens when you drop passes. I loved watching you choke in Chicago, too. That was funny. You play like a bad high school team.

    The Seachokes get no respect and are the joke of the NFL and you all take it out on a little boy? What a bunch of bullies you are. Just like Republicans.

    GO STEELERS!!!!!

  19. omega629 says:

    Hansgruber is right on the money. Pretty simple basic rule that one should follow. If you dont like it, tough. If the family is having a hard time following this rule, i wonder how those children will end up? Common sense is lacking in todays brain.

  20. ronnie, you must be joking right – about this kid not remembering this day?

    How about if your kid got a signed autograph from some of your Seahawks for wearing their jersey?

    I certainly would remember the day if I had got an autograph from Joe Namath when I was a kid – when I relished the white shoes, long hair, and “the guarantee” in Super Bowl III (while adherents to the old NFL scorned anyone not touting a Johnny U crew-cut and black high-top cleats)

    This kid was contacted by members of his beloved Steelers, who may yet win a 7th Super Bowl Trophy – and you think he will forget this even if he lives another 50 or 60 years?

    Rather it’s that principal who certainly wishes this will fade quickly. But as long as you and others want to keep kicking this can down the road with some sort of over-the-top mentality that all orders must be always obeyed, I will keep responding. Or maybe it’s all about jealousy – that being a Seahawk fan requires a special mandate to feel secure in their fanship – I mean, how many Seahawk fans would allow their kid to go to a Pittsburgh area school in a Seahawk jersey (especially if that principal was just as daffy as the Truman MS principal to create a special jersey day).

  21. Oh my Lord in Heaven, I cannot believe the energy wasted on this.

  22. surething says:

    They should have let the kids wear their favorite team. We live in a military melting pot with kids from all over the United States.

    Some kids don’t have parents with enough money to purchase a Seahawks shirt for a one day event. Why keep those children from joining the fun?

  23. sozo, I think we were tired of talking about tragedy. This one is serious, because it involves the power that government holds over us through non-elected bureaucrats using non-democratic means to enforce the will of one group over another, but still has a lot of elements of comedy. Perhaps a SNL skit with Tina Fey as you know who telling the school official that they could pry her cold dead fingers from her jersey with the logo of (place logo of team choice here). No, still too serious. How about a Glen Beck look alike at a chalkboard with a convoluted paranoid scheme showing how the Seahawks have taken control over the school administrator and made everyone into conforming Marxists because they are the evil liberal team of Seattle.

  24. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Marcus Trufant went to Truman Middle School.
    They have a tribute to him in the school, complete with one of his jerseys.
    The kid with the Steelers jersey on was a distraction.
    The school wasn’t interested in creating a bar room atmosphere, with kids talking smack to each other over which team is best.
    All of you who think the kid did the right thing by sticking it to the “man” and defying the school to react can rest easy now.
    It is almost guaranteed that this will NEVER happen again. Can we all move on now?

    This has been blown WAY out of proportion.

  25. This wasn’t a Trufant Appreciation day, which might have been appropriate. This day was to show one gang’s colors at the expense of other gangs so one group of kids could have “fun” at the expense of a few others.

  26. MarksonofDarwin says:


    Calm down! It’s over.
    Um, just guessing….you’re not a sports fan. Am I right?!

  27. It’s over when the supporters of the asinine exemption to the standard dress rules, and then dense principal who created this farce will just let it go.

    The reason I’ve taken the time to respond is that I see a larger issue of how some people can support “special rules” for a select group, and exclude others. Then claimed it was a matter of rules from the authority and heaped scorn on a 13 year old because of his harmless protest.

    The level of effort by some to continue putting up an argument for a public employee who created this farce by her misjudgment is what has kept these threads going.

  28. MarksonofDarwin says:


    I haven’t been following the threads on this story. I’m not heaping scorn on a 13 year old. I am not making excuses for the principal. If that’s what people have been doing, then it’s understandable that you feel the need to respond.

    This is where I’m coming from:
    The decision was made to allow Seahawks jerseys on Friday.
    One child wanted to participate, but is not a Seahawks fan. He wore a different jersey.
    The school asked him to change. He refused. The father took him out of school.
    The natural consequence to these events is that NOBODY will be able to wear jerseys of any kind in the future.
    Now everybody is “equal”.
    This happens every time someone feels left out. End of story.

  29. Not the end of the story markson.

    It was a special day, a special rule, and an exemption from the norm, that was totally unfair to the 13 year old who only wore a jersey for his team rather than just sit on the sidelines while others celebrated a hapless pro football franchise.

    The different teams really don’t have a part in this issue – but for anyone who knows sports, in pro-football the Steelers are in fact at the the top of the heap when it comes to history. The teacher opened this door to exclude anyone who don’t celebrate the pathetic Seahawks – and as I have stated, I can remember when the Joe Namath Jets were my team, and if I was told I had to swallow watching only Baltimore Colts jerseys being worn in school – even in Baltimore – you can bet I would have followed this kids example, and still be proud of it all these years later (especially if I had gotten the attention of my team the way this kid did – it wouldn’t surprise me that he gets tickets to to Super Bowl if the Steelers make it – again).

    It’s a football jersey on a 13 year old for goodness sakes – only those who took an issue with it has created something out of nothing. I am only responding to the hyperbole.

    But as long as you and others see the fairness in it, and comment as such – well, I’ll guess we’ll continue this ring-around-the mulberry bush postings.

  30. Mark, here’s my version:

    1, an unelected government bureaucrat made a discriminatory decision without input or discussion to allow one group of kids to have “fun”, not as a reward for anything, just because they belong to the majority.
    2. A member of the minority explains that to him, the rule is a punishment, not a benefit and asked if he could have fun, too, and was told, “No, that is only for the group of my choosing. If you don’t bow down to my authority, you will be punished.”
    3. The boy decides that he will test the resolve of the petty government bureaucrat to stand up for the unfair decision.
    4. The petty government bureacrat tells him that rules are more important than treating people fairly and equally or looking out for the minority.
    5. The petty government bureaucrat becomes the laughing stock of the nation, and the boy becomes a national hero. (probably neither of them deserving these honors)
    6. We have something to talk about other than tragedy.

    And, yes, I am a sports fan. The true blue, the once and future (but not currently) America’s Team, the Cowboys, rule. Do you think it would have been passive-agressive of me to wear Royal blue and silver instead of greenish blue?

  31. MarksonofDarwin says:


    I think I’m not making myself very clear. It seems we actually agree that this is no big deal. It’s done and over with. There will never be any more deviations from the usual uniforms in that school. That is going to be the ONLY result from this tempest in a teapot. That’s what I’m calling the “end of the story”. And that’s the way these things always go.

  32. MarksonofDarwin says:


    I suspect you’re a bigger sports fan than I am! These things get contentious, and it’s usually good natured ribbing.

    The outcome of this has been written in stone, and the formula is an old one:

    This principal will never allow any deviations again.
    Everyone’s happy…right?

  33. Mark, yes, sadly, that is how petty bureaucrats work. Instead of looking at this as a learning experience, they stomp their feet and say, “Well, we’ll just show them. No one will be able to do anything anymore, if I can’t have my way.”

    I would hope that, instad, exemptions would be rare, but for real reasons. Maybe to honor all our troops, or something worthy of a special deviation other than a corporate sports logo. Maybe all the students could dress up as Cinderella in honor of the PN Ballet troupe?

  34. MarksonofDarwin says:


    I agree that’s how petty bureaucrats work.

    Cinderella dress up day?….love it!
    But then, wouldn’t that Pinocchio lover feel left out? (just kidding…kinda!)

  35. I’ve pretty much run the gamut on explaining my logic for standing up for the kid.

    But it is pretty comical overall how blown out this got. – Googled “Tacoma Steeler jersey” , this has gone global.

    I would say the principal has got some unwanted notoriety now – so I;m just turning the perspective around.

    As some posters here seem more than happy to give the principal a pass about this farce – who do you think should be more embarrassed: a 13 year old kid getting all this attention (especially from his sports heroes on the Steelers who may yet reach the Super Bowl) – or a paid public servant who created all this attention with a special jersey day pep rally for the “going nowhere Seahawks?

  36. Nope, can’t have a “support our troops” day. Too vague, after this hoopla. A reasonable person would assume kids who wanted to participate would wear red, white, and blue, or a piece of a uniform from one of our five service branches. BUT, there will also be one little jerk who will think he is so cute and funny and will wear a Nazi uniform or a tie-dye peace t-shirt to support the conscientious objectors.

    This is why there is a uniform policy in the first place. Most of the kids dress just fine on their own, but there has to be a stupid rule for everybody because of the few kids who dress specifically to be a distraction.

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