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Corporal punishment still, inexplicably, being meted out some school districts

SpankingIn many cases, a wide sweeping federal mandate is not the best solution for setting policies in schools.  Individual school boards are much better able to evaluate and work with their schools on a personal, local level that national programs just can’t match.

But what about schools that refuse to mandate a change that seems so pressing, and so obviously necessary, that it is a wonder they didn’t do it decades ago? A Washington Post report tells the story of Temple—a city in central Texas that still uses corporal punishment on misbehaving students.

New York Congress member Carolyn McCarthy plans to unveil legislation to put a federal ban on paddling students. One would hope a national ruling against educators striking kids would be unnecessary in modern times (even prisons have outlawed physical forms of punishment), but apparently not. Twenty states still allow corporal punishment and, in Temple, that means paddling.

 John Hancock, the assistant superintendent of administration for Temple schools told the Washington Post, “the school system had banned corporal punishment about six years ago because a state law change made what was permissible uncertain. Follow-up made clear that schools could paddle.”

Rules about how to carry out the punishment vary from district to district, but typically only administrators can wield the paddle, which the Post describes as a “long, flat wooden paddle…used to give as many as three blows across the student’s clothed rear end.”

Any school rule that makes reference to a student’s “clothed rear-end”—except maybe as part of the dress code policy—sounds like trouble to me.

Paddling was brought back to the school by a unanimous vote, so it’s clear that the board doesn’t seem to take issue with this type of discipline. Maybe it’s time for a bigger authority to step in and put an end to corporal punishment for all schools, whether they like it or not.

Tricia Smith, Spring intern

Naomi Dillon|April 20th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance|Tags: , , |

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