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School CP - December 2005
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 4 December 2005
New regulations bar use of spanking in schools
State is 28th to ban corporal punishment
By Jan Murphy
Spankings in Pennsylvania's public schools no longer are permitted.
Regulations barring educators from paddlings and other physical discipline that causes pain and fear in students took effect yesterday. The regulations appeared in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the state's official publication for new laws and rules.
This makes Pennsylvania the 28th state in the nation to ban the use of corporal punishment, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a Columbus, Ohio-based advocacy group opposed to the practice.
For most schools, this new rule sought by the State Board of Education has little impact. Most districts in the midstate and across the state are believed to have stopped practicing corporal punishment years ago. Some, such as Carlisle Area School District, still had a policy permitting it on their books.
John Friend, Carlisle's assistant superintendent, said the school board is in the process of revising its policies and planned to remove that policy as part of those revisions.
"We recognize that we should have probably had it out before now," Friend said. He suspects paddlings have not been used in the district's schools since the early 1980s.
State lawmakers or the State Board of Education have been pushing for this ban on corporal punishment for well over a decade, calling it an ineffective and inappropriate form of punishment.
However, their efforts were stymied by proponents of the practice, including some legislators who as recently as September tried to halt the State Board's effort to impose a ban on spankings.
"To remove it from the tool kits of our educators is to leave teachers in the classroom and school districts very much with one arm behind their back," Rep. Samuel Rohrer, R-Berks, said at a House Education Committee hearing.
But Edith Isacke, a State Board member who led the push for banning the practice, said, "We're trying to teach teachers to use other disciplinary measures. We don't want children to be afraid to go to school."
The regulations, while barring teachers from using physical force to discipline a student, preserve educators' right to use force to quell a disturbance, obtain possession of a weapon, and defend themselves or others.
Isacke also clarified in testimony to the House Education Committee that the corporal punishment ban does not disallow standing in a corner, running an extra lap or repetitive writing of sentences.
© 2005 The Patriot-News © 2005 PennLive.com All Rights Reserved.
The Jackson Sun, Jackson, Tennessee, 4 December 2005
Discipline or abuse?
29 states have abolished corporal punishment, but it's still common in South
By Tonya Smith-King
HUMBOLDT - Dorothy Armour has long been against the physical punishment of children for breaking rules at school.
The Humboldt City School Board member recently attempted to ban the practice, known as corporal punishment, in city schools before she leaves the board at the end of December. In the 15 years she's been on the School Board, she's heard of teachers pinching and kicking students and squeezing their faces hard enough to leave finger impressions.
"I think it's best for all concerned to just do away with it," Armour said. "If there is no corporal punishment of students, that means no touching of any kind." Armour's failed attempt to ban the practice at a November School Board meeting was the second time in recent months the practice has made news in the region. Medina Middle School Principal Chad Jackson's paddling of a student in September raised accusations of excessive force and has led to an investigation of the incident, which is still pending.
The Gibson County Special School District has temporarily suspended corporal punishment during the investigation.
More states are banning corporal punishment. Opinions among parents about its use remain divided.
Pennsylvania recently became the 29th state to ban the practice, according to Peggy Dean of the group Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education. It is still legal in 21 states, including Tennessee.
Rules vary among Tennessee school systems, with some systems allowing parents to sign an agreement at the beginning of the school year on whether corporal punishment can be used on their children. Other systems and/or schools notify parents before paddling a student. Memphis City Schools banned corporal punishment this past year.
"I think its use is declining," Dean said. "I think the trend is toward more positive behavioral strategies."
But some of the support for corporal punishment is rooted in biblical interpretations. That carries tremendous weight in the Bible Belt South, with Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Missouri identified as the "top hitting states," according to the Center for Effective Discipline Web site, citing information from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
Shirley Wyatt, a Humboldt grandmother, made reference to the biblical saying that "Sparing the rod spoils the child." Wyatt has no problem with corporal punishment.
"I don't think they just paddle them at will, I really don't," Wyatt said. "The lack of discipline in the schools is two-thirds of what's wrong."
Still, Dean, who doesn't hit her own children, pointed out that the law does not allow a man to hit his wife or for prisoners or foster children to be hit.
"How can we tell a man not to slap his wife, yet take a student into the office and batter them with a wooden paddle?" Dean asked. "To me, it's school-sanctioned child abuse ...
"I don't like school officials interpreting the Bible for me," Dean said.
Yet Armour's motion to ban corporal punishment in Humboldt failed by a vote of 2 to 3 in November.
She requested the issue be put on the December School Board agenda. Superintendent Butch Twyman believed it was too big of [sic] an issue to tackle in November without more public input, Armour said.
It's not clear what will happen with the issue now since a Christmas party will take the place of the December School Board meeting Thursday. Armour, who did not seek re-election in November, blamed "dirty politics" Friday for the cancellation of the December meeting.
Twyman could not be reached for comment Friday and did not reply to requests for comment from The Jackson Sun. Board member Lenford Carr voted with Armour to ban the practice but also could not be reached for comment about whether he'd pursue it after Armour leaves.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Children's Services is now handling the Medina case.
"They're basically running the investigation at this point," Police Chief Tom Clifford said Friday.
A decision will be made about what to do in the case once police get DCS's findings, Clifford said.
Reasons for criticism
Armour is opposed to corporal punishment because she doesn't believe the practice is administered fairly, as some children never get spanked, she said.
She also believes there's too much information against corporal punishment. Dean agreed.
What parents and educators are saying
It seems most parents nationwide approve of spanking - but not at school.
A recent ABC poll showed 65 percent of parents approved of spanking, while 31 percent said they did not. But only 26 percent believed spanking should be allowed in schools.
Seventy-two percent opposed spanking in schools.
Like Shirley Wyatt, many of the parents The Jackson Sun talked to in Humboldt were OK with corporal punishment but with one stipulation.
"I'd like to be asked about it first if it was to involve one of my children," said Shelia Blankenship, whose children are 11, 13 and 15 years old.
Daphne Mason was opposed.
"I'd rather do it myself," said Mason, whose children are 7, 8 and 13. "I'm their parent, and I think if I discipline them, it would be better than having someone else do it."
She was concerned about having someone hit them too hard.
The method of corporal punishment most school officials in the region use is paddling. They stressed that the practice is only used as a last resort.
Pope Elementary School Principal Emily Crabtree said methods used first at the Jackson school include in-school and out-of-school suspensions, conferences with the child and referrals to a counselor.
Paddling "is not something we want to do," Crabtree said. "Occasionally, there's a child where that's the only thing that works, but that's few and far in between."
She also stressed that the decision to paddle involves parents.
"We never paddle without the parents' permission," Crabtree said.
Other measures taken before paddling at Gadsden Elementary School in Crockett County include extra class work or taking away recess.
"It's absolutely my last resort," Principal Bitsy Woodson said of paddling. "My students are so well behaved, and parents back us up. I have parents that request that I do that," paddling.
Beaver Elementary School Principal Kenneth Reed in Henderson County has personally stopped paddling students because people are too quick to sue, he said. In Henderson County, paddling must be done in front of another teacher, and there can be no more than three licks given, Reed said.
"It's too big of a hassle," Reed said. "I just suspend them (now), and let the parents deal with them."
He believes 99 percent of teachers at the school feel the way he does but leaves the decision about whether to paddle up to them. Their reluctance to do so may be an indication that the movement to ban paddling nationwide continues to gain steam.
"I can't remember a kid getting a lick this year," he said.
Copyright ©2005 The Jackson Sun. All rights reserved.
News & Observer, Raleigh, N. Carolina, 6 December 2005
Discipline at school
Duke clinical law professor Jane Wettach (Point of View article, Nov. 28) deplored the use of long-term suspension to remove high schoolers who get into fights. She's right: suspension does nothing to help badly behaved kids straighten out and little to deter bad behavior. Wettach wrote from the point of view of an advocate, who need think only of her clients. But educators have to think of the good of all students. Lacking any effective way to fix behavior problems, suspension of misbehavers is the only way educators have to eliminate the causes of disruption.
All the teachers I have spoken to say that lack of discipline is the main problem in poor schools. Unfortunately, most of the disciplinary tools that teachers used to have -- in particular various forms of punishment from the mildest through corporal punishment -- are now denied to them.
"Social science research" -- a classic case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing -- has nothing to say about this because no experimental research is done on punishment. (Nor can it be, for ethical reasons.) Which is not to say that punishment is either ineffective or sometimes necessary. Unless the community -- parents as well as educators -- is willing to rethink its attitudes toward punishment, no change in present practices is possible.
(The writer is James B. Duke professor of psychology and a professor of biology and neurobiology at Duke University.)
Copyright 2005, The News & Observer Publishing Company
The Leaf Chronicle, Tennessee, 7 December 2005
Spankings in home, school were seen as signs of love
This letter is in response to the article about the teacher who has to go to court because a student disobeyed him (Nov. 30).
I went to school in the 1950s and early 1960s, when corporal punishment was alive and well at home and school. Believe me when I tell you I received more than a few spankings at home and school, all well deserved, and I am eternally thankful for each and every one I received.
I am not scared [sic] physically or mentally because my teachers and parents loved me enough to punish me with a spanking for my "well deserved" wrongdoings (not obeying or being disrespectful).
What did I learn from these spankings, "Not beatings"?
I learned to respect my elders and those individuals in position of authority over me (teachers, parents, etc.). I learned to obey the laws and rules that govern our everyday life. I learned that I must accept responsibility for my actions and take my punishment when I am wrong. I learned that everyone is different and I must respect his or her right to be different from me. I also learned that it is all right for me to stand up for my rights when you disagree with me in an assertive manner, but not aggressively. I hope you will respect my right to be different from you, I try very hard to respect your rights.
I am glad I was born 59 years ago instead of nine years ago. Life has not always been easy, whose has? But the lessons I learned from the loving spankings administered by my teachers and parents taught me many great lessons. I fear for the nine-year-olds today. What are the lessons that they will take into adulthood?
Columbia Daily Herald, Tennessee, 9 December 2005
Board extends Hickman's contract
By Thomas Munro
The Maury County School Board sent a mixed message to the director of schools Thursday.
The board agreed to extend Eddie Hickman's contract through July 15, 2008, but the director had hoped for an extension through Jan. 15, 2010.
The board also heard from Tom Johnson, a Nashville-based representative of Tennesseeans for Non-Violent School Discipline, an anti-paddling organization.
Johnson told the paddle first saw wide-spread use as a tool for punishing slaves because it was painful but did not often cause permanent injury. He brought up a number of other issues of concern for those opposed to corporal punishment, including the use of paddling as a form of sexual exploitation, the lack of training given to those who administer paddling, issues of unequal treatment of the sexes and of sexual harassment.
Johnson said fears that ending corporal punishment will undermine school discipline are unfounded, citing the example of the Memphis School District, which banned corporal punishment a year ago. Johnson said Memphis has seen discipline problems go down.
"I hope you'll take these concerns to heart," Johnson said. "We do kids a disservice if we keep sweeping it under the rug."
Johnson's presentation received a round of applause. The board made no comment and took no action.
Johnson came to the meeting after reading in The Daily Herald about a Mt. Pleasant woman who claimed her son was left black and blue by a paddling administered first by a teacher and then by the boy's biological father. After a police investigation, a grand jury declined to issue charges in the case.
The boy's mother, who attended the meeting, said she had obtained the pro bono services of a Franklin-based lawyer and intended to sue the county.
Waynesville Daily Guide, Missouri, 13 December 2005
Plato school district might add new elementary in Roby
By Darrell Todd Maurina
PLATO — It's only a rumor that Roby will soon be the site of a new elementary school.
Board members also voted to give final approval to a policy banning corporal punishment in the district, following warnings by the Texas County prosecuting attorney that the district's frequent use of corporal punishment could expose the district to litigation.
Plato Middle School principal Karissa McNiel said she's already implemented the in-school suspension program that board members approved last month as an alternative to corporal punishment. While board members worried at the last meeting that in-school suspension would turn into a reward for bad behavior rather than a punishment, McNiel said that hasn't been a problem.
"We have had 13 students, and students do not want to be in it because of the way it is conducted," McNiel said. "I have been told that teachers have overheard students coming out of in-school suspension telling other students, ‘You don't want to go there.'"
Responding to questions from board members, McNiel said the in-school suspensions are used for both in-school misbehavior and for behavior problems on the school buses.
Copyright © 2005 Waynesville Daily Guide
Amarillo Globe-News, Texas, 15 December 2005
Henry: School discipline is behind the times
By Dave Henry
How's this for a time-out?
A police officer in Clovis, N.M. handcuffed and arrested a 9-year-old boy last week after being called to Highland Elementary School.
The boy was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly hitting teachers and fighting with the officer, who then cuffed him and stuffed him, to borrow a phrase from Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.
The boy's mother objected, saying her son should not have been arrested, even though she was present at the time of the arrest and reportedly requested police be called.
A 9-year-old schoolboy should not have the cuffs slapped on him and be hauled away in a paddy wagon.
Unfortunately, though, this is the state of discipline today in public schools. The cops are brought on board when what is needed is a board on the behind.
Speaking of handcuffs, teachers and school administrators are handcuffed by district and school policies that not only ban corporal punishment, but effective discipline of any kind. And if prohibitive policies aren't the problem, there's always the threat of a lawsuit against the school, the district, the state and anybody who once set foot on campus for tanning little Johnny's behind.
The only alternative is to call 911.
According to Lt. James Schoeffel of the Clovis PD, the 9-year-old's case is now in the hands of the juvenile probation department.
Schoeffel said that such calls from schools to the police department are not uncommon. Indeed, this is the second time police have responded to a school call regarding the child in question.
Perhaps this view is too simplistic, but a swat on the behind shouldn't be replaced by a call to the SWAT team.
Would the swift application of a wooden object to the posterior of the aforementioned child have been a solution or even an option?
Tough to say.
David Briseno, director of federal/bilingual programs and community relations for the Clovis school district, said corporal punishment is an individual school/district decision. A call to the school principal was not returned as of Wednesday afternoon.
A good spanking couldn't have hurt, though, at least not to the person doing the paddling.
According to the Web site stophitting.com (catchy name, don't ya think?), at least 27 states ban corporal punishment. New Mexico and Texas are not among that group, while in Oklahoma more than half of all public school students are in districts that do not allow corporal punishment.
Interestingly, China banned corporal punishment in 1949. That's probably news to most of the Chinese, especially those in prison.
This isn't an indictment of the school, the teachers and administrators or even the police. In today's milquetoast society, there isn't much they can do. But when police have to be summoned to correct the behavior of a third-grade boy, the first inclination is to yearn for the days when a good spanking wasn't just for those with perverse desires.
Dave Henry is an editorial writer for the Amarillo Globe-News, P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, Texas 79166. His column appears Thursday.
© The Amarillo Globe-News Online
Daily American, Somerset, Pennsylvania, 16 December 2005
A reason for respectTo the editor:
When my grandparents, parents and I went to school the students respected their teachers. Today the respect is not there, because the fear of getting corrected by corporal punishment is not there.
Today kids tell their teacher where to go and what to do to themselves
or they just plain shoot them. Why should they listen, most aren't corrected at
home. Before you get bent out of shape, yes there are students who respect their
teachers and parents who correct them when needed. I applaud these families. They
set an example for others.
Winchester Sun, Kentucky, 16 December 2005
Clark schools face common safety worries
By Tim Weldon
Weapons in Clark County schools? Absolutely. Fighting and bullying? No question about it. Stealing, graffiti and misbehavior on school buses? Certainly. Any safety problem that's abnormal for a middle or high school in 2005? Not really.
Those are the conclusions of a safety assessment conducted by the Kentucky Center for School Safety at the request of Superintendent Robert E. Lee.
The report concludes young people generally feel safe at school. However, it also states that bullying, fighting and misbehavior on school buses continue to be problems that need to be addressed by the school system.
Jon Akers, the KCSS director, pointed out to board members that the safety concerns in Clark County schools are common throughout Kentucky schools. The KCSS assesses an average of 70 schools per year in Kentucky.
"You have many of the same issues of other school systems," Akers told the board. "There's nothing here that comes off as being extremely one way or the other as far as problems are concerned. There are many things to celebrate in this school district."
Akers praised supervision Kentucky's 177 public school districts.
According to the report, the number of students expelled from Clark County public schools dropped from three in 2003-04 to 1 in 2004-05. The number of students suspended for criminal activities dropped from 70 in 2003-04 to 17 in 2004-05.
Statewide, the report showed a 3.16 percent drop in violations of board policies in 2004-05. It was the first time in recent years that the number of violations of board policies declined in Kentucky schools.
The report concludes drug abuse violations in Kentucky dropped by more than 20 percent last year. Suspensions for school board violations dropped 2.25 percent.
The report concludes instances of profanity and vulgarity, inappropriate sexual behavior and failure to attend detention increased in Kentucky last year. However, there was a drop in the reported cases of fighting, threats or intimidation and carrying a dangerous instrument.
The number of students suspended for violating board policies in Clark County dropped from 917 in 2003-04 to 863 in 2004-05. The number of cases of corporal punishment in Clark County schools dropped from eight in 2003-04 to six last year.
Clark County was one of 52 school districts reporting one or more cases of corporal punishment of students last year.
San Antonio Express-News, Texas, 18 December 2005
Speaking Spanish no longer against the rules -- in most states
By Robert Seltzer
I was in the sixth grade when I discovered my butt was one big nerve ending.
Well, maybe not that big, but big enough to feel the pain from my backside to my ankles.
I can laugh about it now, but it was serious back then, not only because of the suffering I experienced, but because I had done nothing to deserve it.
This is what prompted my punishment: I was walking down the school corridor, between classes, when I called out to a classmate in front of me.
That was it; that was my transgression.
A simple, harmless act, you might say, and you would be right, except for one thing: I called out to the classmate in Spanish, and in the mid-1960s, before the civil rights movement gained momentum, some schools banned Spanish, even in predominantly Hispanic towns such as El Paso.
One of the teachers heard me. He ushered me into a classroom, opened a closet and withdrew a sawed-off baseball bat. Then he turned the classroom into a batting cage.
It was the first time I had been swatted for speaking Spanish; it would not be the last. You might think a paddling would have muted me, at least in one language, but it was hard to stop a behavior which, like breathing or blinking, seemed involuntary. I could no more stop speaking in Spanish than I could stop thinking in Spanish.
Those days seem so long ago, and they are. But they are not as distant as they seem. Some educators have not learned the painful lesson of those times — that kids can embrace a new culture without forsaking their old one.
In Kansas City recently, Zach Rubio, a 16-year-old high school junior, was suspended for speaking Spanish. The principal sent him home, although the school superintendent reversed the suspension within hours. The family is suing.
"Sometimes I just talk to my friends, and I don't think about what language I am speaking," the student told Kansas City reporters. "Sometimes it just comes out."
Hartselle Enquirer, Alabama, 28 December 2005
Hartselle High logs 63 disciplinary incidents this year
By Cliff Knight
A state-mandated accountability report aimed at tracking school safety and discipline shows that four of Hartselle's five schools logged 108 total incidents involving the serious misbehavior of students during the 2004-05 academic year. The number of incidents reported in the prior year was 109.
Hartselle High School reported 63 incidents to lead all other schools in the city system. Hartselle Junior High School followed with 23, F. E. Burleson Elementary School had 18 and Crestline Elementary School logged four. HJHS topped the list last year with 48 and HHS followed with 38. Barkley Bridge Elementary didn't report an incident.
Persistent/willful disobedience accounted for 23 of the incidents reported. F.E. Burleson had 12, Hartselle Junior High, seven, Hartselle High, two, and Crestline, one. Following in number were fighting, 20, defiance of authority, 10, truancy/unauthorized absence, eight, harassment, nine, profanity or vulgarity, seven, other disorderly conduct, five, knife possession and assault, three each, alcohol possession, two, and drugs sale, drugs possession, sexual harassment, inciting other students to create a disturbance, alcohol use and possession of unauthorized communications device, one each.
Disciplinary action taken as a result of the incidents included 68 cases of suspension, 16 cases of enrollment in alternative school and 21 cases of corporal punishment.
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