September 26, 2009

Sox-Fan Teacher Makes Student Wear Yankees Shirt Inside Out: A fourth grader in Baldwinsville, N.Y., says that he was ordered by his teacher to wear his New York Yankees T-shirt inside out. Nate Johns, 9, said that teacher Peter Addabbo -- who has Boston Red Sox paraphernalia all over his class -- made him wear it that way until dismissal. "It was such a horrible day," said Nate. "I don't ever want anything like to happen again."

posted by rcade to baseball at 12:04 PM - 36 comments

At lunch, Nate said the fifth-graders made fun of him because he wearing his shirt inside out.

And being a good Yankees fan, I'm sure he said, "Ah, go fuck yahselves!" and pulled out his handgun.

Seriously, though, I don't agree with this at all. Even if the teacher was trying to be funny, I think the joke would have ended when the kid came back to class and Addabbo would say, "Oh, I'm just giving you grief."

Pretty weak.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:22 PM on September 26

That teacher is an ass. The kid said it best himself:

"Just because my teacher doesn't like the Yankees I should still have the right to wear a Yankees shirt,"

The school seems to be treating this as if somebody was killed. "We don't have all the facts"? An investigation? It sounds like the other kids are going to be interrogated. Just make the teacher wear a Yankees shirt for a day and this situation could end there.

posted by BoKnows at 12:23 PM on September 26

Just make the teacher wear a Yankees shirt for a day and this situation could end there.

I don't think so. Someone who would put a child at the mercy of his classmates' taunting over his team of choice is someone who shouldn't be teaching. Fire his ass.

posted by dfleming at 12:44 PM on September 26

I think it's fun when teachers do distinctive things. There's nothing wrong with a teacher loving the Red Sox and giving a little grief to students for wearing Yankees gear. But the teacher ought to have the sense to know when it's going too far or a kid's taking it too seriously.

posted by rcade at 12:52 PM on September 26

And being a good Yankees fan, I'm sure he said, "Ah, go fuck yahselves!" and pulled out his handgun.

We don't use handguns. We use knives. It's more personal that way.

posted by goddam at 12:59 PM on September 26

Knives, brass knuckles, pipes that happen to be laying around. All good.

posted by billsaysthis at 01:12 PM on September 26

How'd the Red Sox do last night? Oh.

posted by jjzucal at 01:41 PM on September 26

We don't use handguns. We use knives. It's more personal that way.

Leave it to a Yankee to bring a knife to a gun fight :-)

posted by bdaddy at 01:58 PM on September 26

Buy the teacher a front row upper deck seat at a Phillies game so Monforto's 3 yr old daughter can throw him over the rail.

posted by beaverboard at 03:43 PM on September 26

But the teacher ought to have the sense to know when it's going too far or a kid's taking it too seriously.

Agreed.

I don't remember many years when sports wasn't a big topic in my classrooms. Of course, normally it was an Auburn / Alabama war, but it was always fun (even though I couldn't care less about that rivalry).

If this was all fun, and the kid thought it was fun, I don't see a problem. Obviously it wasn't fun for him and the teacher should be observant enough to realize that.

How'd the Red Sox do last night? Oh.

They lost a meaningless game on the road to the playoffs. Do you have a point?

posted by justgary at 03:44 PM on September 26

They lost a meaningless game on the road in the playoffs.

Gary, I know the playoffs haven't started yet.

The Blue Jays are still playing.

posted by tommytrump at 03:58 PM on September 26

Ha. I changed it mr. smarty pants.

posted by justgary at 04:02 PM on September 26

My high school drafting teacher graduated from Ohio State, and he made a kid wearing a Michigan jersey take it off and go through class topless. As punishment, the principal made him sing "The Victors" over the PA every Monday the rest of the season after a Michigan win...

posted by MeatSaber at 04:44 PM on September 26

When my students wear some USC or Man United gear, I occasionally give them a little grief, but it's verbal and it's minor - I would never go as far as the Sox fan. No matter how much you love "your" team, it's indefensible to take it that far. But calling for the guy's job? Well, now that's taking it too far as well.

posted by sbacharach at 10:42 PM on September 26

I would think that some sort of equal punishment is in order.

The boy gets to wear his Yankees shirt and the teacher has to take his Sox items down for a day.

posted by dviking at 02:47 AM on September 27

This is a 1st Amend. issue. In today's society, the school and teacher will be fortunate if they are not sued.

posted by FonGu at 06:15 AM on September 27

As for the school saying it has to "investigate," that's always the first comment you will get. That and the usual, "We're taking this situation very seriously."

If this would have happened in a high school setting, it may not be as big a deal. More than likely a high school kid may have either refused to turn the jersey inside out or changed it back right after class. Seeing as how it's a nine-year old elementary student, I truly believe the teacher will receive a suspension from the school district, minimum. It's completely unprofessional and unethical for a teacher to abuse his power for such a ridiculous reason, and if a district doesn't take a serious stand (especially after they receive publicity of any sort on it), they will be the ones who are guilty. The kid already playing the "ridicule by classmates" card also shows that his parents aren't going to roll over on this one.

posted by dyams at 06:27 AM on September 27

I would think that some sort of equal punishment is in order.

Completely agreed. I think the teacher should have to wear a Yankees jersey for at least one full day. That is, after serving a brief suspension.

posted by MW12 at 09:59 AM on September 27

This is a 1st Amend. issue.

Explain please. I'm always excited when we have legal experts chime in.

For the record, it's fine by me to have this sort of interplay between teachers & students, but the teacher needs to have a better feel for which kids enjoy it, and all day is too long by about 7 hours and 45 minutes. At least it was just rival sports teams-- one of my teachers had an Italian v. Irish thing going in our class. That would have been a good one when it went wrong if he'd been this cack-handed about it.

posted by yerfatma at 12:25 PM on September 27

Well the 1st amendment argument would go something like this. The first amendment explicitly states that "congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech." So, basically, the 1st amendment protects our right to free speech (within reason, of course. One can't incite a riot or panic and expect speech to be protected.) Of course, congress didn't tell the boy he had to turn his shirt inside out, a teacher did, so there's got to be something more. That's where the 14th amendment comes into play. The 14th, in a nutshell, says that states cannot abridge the powers and rights guaranteed under the previous amendments; ergo, the state cannot abridge a citizen's right to free speech. The school was a public school, funded by state money, and therefore a state actor. The teacher, as a representative of the state, was abridging the boy's right to freely "speak" of his allegiance to the Yankees.

Of course, I don't think it needs to be taken that far. An apology followed by some mild/appropriate sort of discipline would be fine. To pursue a lawsuit because one teacher exercised bad judgment seems a bit much. So the kid had a bad day; it happens to all kids in one way or another. To involve courts would be a waste of time and money that could be better spent educating our children so they don't grow up to be Sox fans. (I keed, I keed)

posted by tahoemoj at 01:19 PM on September 27

The courts have never asserted that schoolchildren have the same First Amendment rights as everybody else. School officials have been granted leeway to make rules regarding speech to prevent disruptions and other reasons. In 2007, the Supreme Court upheld a high school student's suspension for displaying a Bong Hits 4 Jesus banner outside his school.

That student, incidentally, is now a teacher.

posted by rcade at 01:46 PM on September 27

For that matter, schools -- public ones included -- have always been granted the right to have dress codes.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:53 PM on September 27

I guess I should have qualified my previous post by saying that I really don't think this should be a 1st amendment issue, I was just pointing out what the argument might be. But to write it off as the two previous posts did isn't quite accurate, either.

Do you think this is an issue about dress code? Did the school have a code that precluded the wearing of sports paraphernalia? Of course a school can have a dress code, but they can't single out one child for cheering for a team that the teacher doesn't like. LBB, I concede your point, but it is moot.

Or was this a sign that disrupted the class? Was this Yankees shirt a disruption, or was the teacher just a prick? Rcade, it seems to me that the only disruption was caused by the teacher, not the student who arrived for school (I assume) with no intent to disrupt. Not really like "bonghits 4 Jesus" is it?

posted by tahoemoj at 03:58 PM on September 27

I'm writing it off because students never win free speech cases, and in this particular situation the right to root for a team is unlikely to be a compelling speech issue.

posted by rcade at 06:35 PM on September 27

Agreed rcade-that's why I really don't think its a free speech issue, either. Nor should it get that out of hand. The teacher should admit that he made a mistake, do something fun like wear a Yankee shirt for a day, and be done with it. It always make me sad when people can't just have a sense of humor about something and let it go; and it makes me sad for my profession when there's always an attorney who is willing to take it to court.

posted by tahoemoj at 07:15 PM on September 27

I agree that the proper punishment here is for the teacher to wear Yankees gear.

posted by rcade at 07:46 PM on September 27

It always make me sad when people can't just have a sense of humor about something and let it go

I agree that the proper punishment here is for the teacher to wear Yankees gear.

I really don't believe it's a "free speech" issue or a "lawsuit" issue. The teacher involved could very easily find himself without a job. Regardless if people consider it "funny" or not, it's a completely stupid, idiotic move by a teacher of elementary-age children. That's the real issue here. As a school administrator (who also happens to know the Superintendent involved in this story), I fully expect something extremely harsh to happen to this teacher. School law (at least in New York state (I'm not sure about elsewhere)) doesn't allow a teacher to be suspended by a district without pay. The district could pursue 3020-A dismissal charges on him, if he's a tenured teacher, or if he's not tenured they could let him go immediately. Suspending him gives him what amounts to paid time off, but I fully expect he will be suspended. You just don't allow an adult to abuse their power over young children, regardless of the reason he (the teacher) did it.

posted by dyams at 08:50 PM on September 27

The teacher involved could very easily find himself without a job. Regardless if people consider it "funny" or not, it's a completely stupid, idiotic move by a teacher of elementary-age children.

If he's a good teacher, it would be a real shame to fire him over a situation that could have been viewed playfully just as much as it ended up hurting that kid's feelings. It really depends on the context. I read a comment on one news site from a parent who had a kid in his class before, and the pro-Sox, anti-Yankees stuff was regarded as fun by the parent's kid.

Surely you can envision a scenario in which a teacher loves one team and gives friendly grief to fans of other teams, and vice versa. It might even extend to a kid being told to wear a shirt inside out. As long as it wasn't really mandatory, and no punishment would come from it, no harm no foul.

This particular kid's getting a gift package from the Yankees and national attention for being a fan, so I think the scales have been balanced without the teacher losing his job.

posted by rcade at 08:58 PM on September 27

Here's the comment I was referring to, from the local paper for the area: "Peter Addabbo is a Van Buren legend with his Red Sox room and bravado. I have had 3 sons...all Yankee fans...enjoy the playful bantering with Peter. He never suspended them (or contacted the newspapers) for them not taking off their Yankee shirts or giving him grief when the Yankees beat the Sox. To this day when they see Peter they shout 'Go Yankees!'."

Another comment: "I think that there is more here than meets the eye! My son had Mr. Addabbo in 4th grade and he is one of the best teacher's in the district! My son is a Yankee's fan and use to wear all kinds of Yankee gear to school all the time! Mr. Addabbo use to pick with him and have fun with him about it all the time as well as my son would do the same when the red sox lost and stuff. My son never had so much fun in school and was never so interested in school as he was in 4th grade!"

Another: "This was my daughters teacher and while what he did may be considered wrong , Mr. A is a good teacher before 4th grade I had a hard time getting her to go to school. He made it fun for her and others and I never had a hard time getting her to go to school when she was in his class. He is a jokster and if this had happened later in the school year he would have realized this and probably gave it right back to him."

posted by rcade at 09:23 PM on September 27

Oh man. So many gems in those user comments. My fav, on page 6:

Posted by jonrob
September 25, 2009, 4:29PM

Our president is the color of poop and this is all we have to complain about?!

Gives one an insight into the readership; a lot of use of the word sissy, references to the teacher's lacking penis and people hoping the kid gets beaten up. Anonymity on the internet is a double edged sword.

posted by dfleming at 10:12 PM on September 27

yerfatma,

It is a 1st Amend. issues. I am not a lawyer, but I am a public school administrator - and I would say that does make me an expert in this area. And, given that I have had to testify in our local courts seveal times as an 'expert witness', I feel that claim is justified. Tinker v. Des Moines Board of Ed. clearly ruled that a students right to free speech does not end at the school doors. This is concidered a landmark case in the area of free speech. A school does have the right to curtail free speech in publication, such as a yearbook or student newspaper. The school also has the right to limit student expression through clothing if it is in poor taste by the standards of the community or if it interfers with the education process - both admittedly are grey areas. Personally, I see this as a teacher who went to far in an on-going joke with a student, or parents, who fail to see the humor - thus the claim the student was humiliated by his peers due to teasing at lunchtime. I still stand by my claim: in today's society, he, or the school, will be lucky if they are not sued.

posted by FonGu at 05:41 AM on September 28

It is a 1st Amend. issues. I am not a lawyer, but I am a public school administrator - and I would say that does make me an expert in this area.

How is it a First Amendment issue when the parties involved are a teacher and a student? After being a member here, it's stunning to me how much of the world and life the US' First Amendment covers.

posted by yerfatma at 07:26 AM on September 28

Teachers can't lead prayers because it abridges student's right to freedom of religion because teachers are considered state actors.

Some teachers are bullies. Even if they are not, they have to be aware of how students will react to this. Elementary school is too young to take this so far. Half the kids will laugh and pretend they think it is fun, and then go home and cry.

posted by bperk at 07:54 AM on September 28

Elementary school is too young to take this so far.

That's the point people miss when talking about things being funny. If this guy is such a solid teacher, he should know this fact about the age group he serves. One of the first lessons you learn when considering applying humor to situations or with individual students is to know how that specific young person may respond. The cookie-cutter approach this guy seems to have may not play to well to all 9 year olds.

posted by dyams at 12:50 PM on September 28

After being a member here, it's stunning to me how much of the world and life the US' First Amendment covers.

Yeah. That whole 1st Amendment deal is so overrated and trivial, particularly when it's just some kid wearing Yankees gear we're talking about, I guess.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:35 PM on September 28

That's exactly what I was saying, that the First Amendment isn't notable or important. As opposed to questioning the idea that the proper forum for correcting this problem was the Supreme Court.

posted by yerfatma at 03:22 PM on September 28

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