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Eastern Echo, Ypsilanti, Michigan, 2 February 2007
Snobbery can run rampant in everyday life
By Bill Barr
I drove almost 700 miles this past weekend to be funny on a couple of small town stages. The trip begs the question: Why do gas prices vary $.40 per gallon from our area to the gas stations in Northwestern Indiana?
When I was a kid, my gym teacher had a motivational poster in
his office, which I saw very clearly whenever I went there to get
my backside paddled. It was right on the wall, in front of my
face when I grabbed my knees. I would stare at it. Right next to
the poster hung the paddle. It was named: the Board of Education.
© 2005 Eastern Echo
Telluride Watch, Colorado, 2 February 2007
Musings of a Mountainman
High School "Tails" of Yore
By Jack Pera
An Internet news article headline from Sept. 9, 2006 read: "Caught on Tape: Coach Hits Football Player."
When I was a freshman and sophomore in Telluride High School, 1951-1953, our athletic coach was a strict disciplinarian type of guy. Tough as he was, he never hit any of us -- directly that is. In basketball, we were taught to be constantly alert. After someone on our team made a basket, as we were going back down the floor to defend against the other team making a basket, he always insisted we look backward so as to know where the ball was at all times in order to defend against the other team making a long pass over our heads for an easy bucket. During scrimmage practice, he would sit on the sideline, basketball in hand, and when he observed a player going down the floor after a basket toward the opposite basket not looking back to know what was going on, he would run up behind him and hit him fairly hard in the butt with a basketball. After an embarrassing time or two of this, you got the point big time.
The Telluride school, being barely financially operable as it was at the time, required that Coach "Sam" do double duty as a science teacher. As stated above, best that I can remember, Coach "Sam" never did hit any of us who went out for football, basketball or baseball, which were the only competitive sports offered at that time. The same cannot be said about him being a teacher.
One day, as coach was giving us a lecture in science class, two guys sitting at desks to my right got into a bit of a friendly, disruptive scuffle. Coach called them up to his desk at the front of the room and proceeded to pull out of said desk a huge wooden paddle about three feet long and six inches wide with holes drilled in the sweet spot. The holes were obviously for intimidation and fear purposes, mental torture by another interpretation. He instructed both to lean over the desk and gave each of them one or more (I don't remember how many) very hard swats on their sit-down equipment. The trauma and drama in that room was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Laughter never entered the minds of the rest of us instantly converted goody-goody students.
I remember very distinctly what happened next. When the guy who sat closest to me returned to his seat his face was as red as a beet. I have a hunch it closely matched what was going on at the surface of his posterior at the time. He sat there absorbing it all for about 20 seconds or so and then buried his head in his arms folded on his desk and sobbed his heart out. Whether most of his crying came from humiliation or pain I can't say, because there was certainly an ample supply of each. One time did the trick. I guarantee you that coach certainly had the rigid attention of everyone in class for a long time after that whenever he was addressing us.
The odds are about 99.9 percent that neither of these kids told his parents what happened. If they had, the odds were just about the same that would have been the end of it. In those times, most kids and parents alike accepted harsh, justifiable school discipline as a fact of life without having their precious feelings offended.
What was unusual in this case was that a teacher, rather than the school superintendent, did the dirty work. Many a kid got his butt blistered in the superintendent's office for being over unruly. At that time, it was standard and accepted procedure. I'll admit, although effective as it was, coach's callous "cure" might have exceeded the limits of appropriate penalty and good taste for the crime committed.
Can you imagine how hard the stinky would hit the fan if that were to happen today? Zingo, at the speed of electromagnetic indignation, abused kid would immediately call an over-reactive and incensed parent on his cell, who would immediately contact a tickled-pink attorney to file lawsuits against Telluride's ultra-wealthy school district, unappreciated Board of Education, sadistic disciplinarian, and some totally innocent woodworking shop class instructor who made the paddle. Said pampered "little angel" would be supported by overly zealous law officers, a bloated all out of proportion legal system and our disjointed (chaotic) culture. In short, what we would have today is the perfect recipe for revenge and retribution for poor junior because he got his dignity turned inside out and his world turned upside down.
Sirens blaring, lawmen would rush the building. With guns drawn, teacher would be arrested, handcuffed, booked, and jailed. Bail release would eventually follow until upcoming trial about two years hence. Job termination and mental evaluation would be automatic and immediate, resulting in the ruination of a specialized college degree used for a difficult profession. Whether or not he was a superb educator would be immaterial. Score one for a minor incident putting money into a lot of people's pockets while ignoring civil rights protected lousy societal behavior.
All may not be lost for the ruined teacher, however. He likely could get a job at Gitmo or one of our other military installation torture chambers, managed through the auspices of the good old CIA.
When the occasion demands, an old fashioned trip to the woodshed for a good whuppin' never hurt anybody -- very long. If the lesson of a deserved butt blistering gets transferred upwards to where it counts most, it was a good personal and societal investment. Ever wonder how many teachers wish they could "tan the hide" of some of the spoiled-rotten animals they have to endure five days a week, eight-and-a-half months a year? Heaven forbid, I'm not about to wonder if yours might be one of these.
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport, 4 February 2007
Students tour historic schoolhouse
By Tony Spinelli
MONROE -- The one-room schoolhouses of the early 1800s had their place and their time, but a group of Girl Scouts and Brownies from St. Jude's Catholic School who toured one recently were glad this is 2007 and not 1807.
"There's no plumbing," observed Julia Rotella, 11, looking around the room before she noticed an outhouse, which resembled a tool shed, in the yard.
This unappealing discovery was matched by the fact that the only way to heat the room against the winter cold is to burn hardwoods in the fireplace.
The front of the room near the fireplace was toasty, but the back of the room was chilly.
"I don't like it," said Meagan Mercado, 8.
The youngsters also were surprised to learn about the methods of discipline used by schoolteachers in those days, when Monroe was a farming community and children attended classes in the summer and winter only.
Fall and spring were reserved for farm work, said Nancy Zorena, president of the Monroe Historical Society, who gave the presentation.
Dressed in replica clothing from the late 1700s and early 1800s, Zorena showed off the ruler used to paddle buttocks of misbehaving students. The miscreants were ordered to bend over and press their noses into a small hole on the teacher's desk for the paddling.
"They called it the nosey hole," Zorena said. "That's where you put your nose if you were nosey. And if you were a repeat offender, you were in the perfect position for this," she said, wielding the stick in her hands.
Zorena also showed how a simple hickory stick was used to slap the hand of an unruly child.
It was a different time, she said, and the discipline dished out was often physical.
"The teacher was not only a teacher, but a disciplinarian," Zorena said. "And if your parents found out you were disciplined, they would discipline you as well."
© 1999-2007 MediaNews Group Newspapers
Dothan Eagle, Alabama, 12 February 2007
Punishment in familiar form
By Jim Cook
Michelle Campbell went through her entire grade school career without being paddled. Her son, a student at Beverlye Middle School, is halfway through school and hasn't been paddled yet either.
Not that Campbell would have a problem with it if he was.
"If he needs a spanking, I'm fine with it," she said.
Campbell's attitude is common in the Southeast, where corporal punishment remains an accepted part of school discipline. Alabama is one of 27 states that allows corporal punishment in its schools. The state allows local school boards to set their own policy concerning corporal punishment, requiring only that school districts that use it have a written policy in place. Although districts are free to set their own policies, most Wiregrass school districts require that corporal punishment be used only by school administrators and that another employee witness the punishment. All local districts using corporal punishment allow parents to exempt their children from paddling.
The Houston County Schools and the Dothan City Schools both use corporal punishment. In 2005, Houston County handed out 535 paddlings, while Dothan used corporal punishment in about 450 instances.
Dothan City School Superintendent Sam Nichols said although corporal punishment is still an option available to Alabama schools under state and local policy, its use is becoming less common because of lawsuit fears and because of other available discipline options such as in-school suspension. This trend matches national statistics. According to the U.S. Department of Education, corporal punishment was used more than a million times in 1980. In 2000, it was used about 342,000 times.
"It's not used nearly like it was years ago," Nichols said.
"It probably just stings a little"
Corporal punishment is used more often in rural schools. Judy Fowler is the principal of Cottonwood High School, a small town K-12 campus in Houston County. Fowler said corporal punishment is used at her school because she doesn't have the funds for an in-school suspension program.
"We don't have ISS. If we did, it would eliminate corporal punishment," she said.
According to Fowler, corporal punishment is more often used at the elementary and middle grades because high school students are less intimidated by it. Fowler said paddlings are usually administered by an assistant principal and must be witnessed by another school employee. Balsa wood paddles are the tool of choice, and smaller paddles are used for younger students.
"It probably just stings a little," she said.
Dale County School Superintendent Phillip Parker says the quickness of corporal punishment makes it an attractive disciplinary tool because it doesn't require students to spend a lot of time out of class in the principal's office or in-school suspension. Parker says every minute of class time is valuable because of the rigorous student achievement standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
"If they're paddled in the hallway they can go back in the classroom and redirect instead of spending time in the office," Parker said.
Use the rod, spoil the child
Many experts oppose corporal punishment.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for the abolition of corporal punishment in schools. The academy believes corporal punishment may affect adversely a student's self-image and school achievement and that it may contribute to disruptive and violent student behavior.
The NAACP also opposes corporal punishment. According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, black students are paddled at a rate disproportional to their numbers in public schools. Blacks comprise 17 percent of students, but receive 39 percent of paddlings. Whites make up 62 percent of all students, but receive 53 percent of paddlings.
Nadine Block, executive director for the Center for Effective Discipline, said corporal punishment should be banned because it puts students at risk for physical harm and school systems at risk for lawsuits. Block also says its ineffective.
"You swat a kid and send him back to class," she said. "Nobody's had to sit down and talk with him about what he's done. Discipline's a learned behavior. What do you learn from that?"
Putting the paddle away
Ozark is the only school district in the Wiregrass that doesn't use corporal punishment.
The Ozark City School Board banned corporal punishment in 1999. Prior to the system-wide ban, D.A. Smith Middle School temporarily eliminated corporal punishment in late 1997 after a parent complained about large bruises left on her daughter by a wooden paddle.
Petra Prazinko, chairman of the board, was on the board at the time of the vote. Prazinko said that the board voted to ban corporal punishment because most of the city schools had already quit using it and because paddling children opened the system up to unnecessary legal liability.
Superintendent Dan Payant, who was hired after the ban went into effect, said the issue of paddling students is touchy and that almost everyone has an opinion concerning corporal punishment.
"I don't want to go there because if I do 50 percent of the community would be automatically for me and 50 percent would be automatically against me," he said.
Roslyn Mikoda is the principal of Mixon Elementary School. Mikoda says that instead of using corporal punishment, her school now uses a variety of disciplinary tools including time-out, detention, parent conferences and in-school and out-of-school detention. Mikoda said the other disciplinary tools at her disposal have resulted in more parental involvement in school discipline because they require more contact between the school and parents.
However, this parental involvement does occasionally result in a few parents coming to the school to administer corporal punishment on their own.
"I tell the parents they're free to come up if that's what they need to do," she said.
El Paso Times, Texas, 17 February 2007
Bill would ban swats in schools in Texas
By Ramon Bracamontes
While swatting students for misbehavior is not permitted in most school districts in El Paso, it is so common throughout Texas that one state legislator has filed a bill that would ban corporal punishment in every Texas school.
In filing the bill, state Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, has reopened the ongoing national debate on whether swatting students and children should be used anywhere.
In California, a state legislator is trying to get a law passed that prohibits anyone from spanking -- even with their bare hand -- any child younger than 4.
A national organization, The Center for Effective Discipline, is trying to ban swatting in every state. Currently, 21 states allow it in their public schools.
"And spanking is used mostly on poor children, minorities and students with disabilities," said Allen, who could not pass the same bill in 2005. "The schools need to be a positive place where students can learn, not somewhere where students can be hit."
The bill is needed in Texas, she said, because only 50 of the 1,033 school districts in Texas have banned the use of a swat. And, she said, more than 70,000 students get swatted each year, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics.
In El Paso, six of the nine districts have banned corporal punishment. Only the Tornillo, Fabens and Clint districts allow it.
State Rep. Chente Quintanilla, D-El Paso, said swatting students is not as evil as some people think and is a tool that should not be taken away from educators.
"I am old-school," said Quintanilla, a lifelong educator. "If you spare the rod, you spoil the child. If done properly, it is an effective tool."
The Tornillo Independent School District, by a vote of the school board, recently reinstated the use of corporal punishment.
"Some parents wanted it, especially in the elementary level," Superintendent Paul Varnish said. "It is not something that is common or that we regularly do, but it is available to us."
Varnish said that parents have not complained about the policy, because it is rarely used and it is not the first action taken. It also doesn't work with children in the higher grades, although it is not limited to any age group.
According to the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Effective Discipline's Web site, the number of spankings in public schools nationwide has dropped to 342,000 in 2000 from 1.4 million in 1980.
Most school districts began changing the policy in the late 1980s.
Arturo Lightbourn, a retired El Paso principal, still has the brown paddle that he used for three decades. While a principal at Hart Elementary and other schools, he used to walk around with the 14-inch paddle in his back pocket.
"I never swatted anyone when I was mad or when the student was mad," said Lightbourn, who retired in 1989.
Discipline and swatting in schools was a lot different in the '60s, '70s and '80s. Almost every teacher had a paddle back then.
"When students got in trouble, it was 'Do you want three swats or do we call your parent?' " he said. "They always chose the three swats. Back then, you could hear the swats in the hallways."
Even today, Lightbourn says, he runs into former students whom he had to swat. None of them are upset with him, but it's the first thing they remind him of.
Loretto High School Principal Abe Ramirez said corporal punishment is not permitted at Loretto. It is also prohibited at all of the Catholic Diocese schools in El Paso.
In El Paso
Six of the nine county districts ban corporal punishment.
What's the policy?
Anthony, Canutillo, El Paso, Socorro, Ysleta and San Elizario
school districts prohibit the use of corporal punishment.
Copyright © by the El Paso Times and MediaNews Group and/or wire services and suppliers.
The News-Journal, Longview, Texas, 18 February 2007
Area schools don't view spanking in same way
By Danya Worchel
The centuries-old question of whether to use spanking as a form of discipline continues to challenge American parents and educators. And as they have for centuries, the answers remain varied and divided.
In Austin, a legislator has proposed a ban on corporal punishment in public schools. In California, a lawmaker has proposed a ban on spanking children younger than 4.
Most area public schools have rules that give them permission to paddle a student, but in many cases, they use other ways to deal with behavior problems. The Longview ISD district policy is that corporal punishment shall be limited to spanking or paddling the student, and will only be administered if the parent agrees.
District spokesman Brian Bowman said the student will be told the reason corporal punishment is being administered and that corporal punishment can be administered only by the principal or assistant principal, and only in the presence of a witness.
"The district will honor a parent request that corporal punishment not be administered to his or her child. However, the district shall impose other disciplinary measures consistent with the offense," Bowman said.
Vickie Echols, spokeswoman for Pine Tree Independent School District said, "Our district policy allows corporal punishment as a method of discipline. However, after speaking with campus personnel in our district, it is apparent that corporal punishment is either never or very rarely used in the Pine Tree schools."
Echols said in the early grades, a "Mission Control" room is used as a time out/cool down area for students. She said behavior contracts and parents conferences also are used.
For older students,discipline methods such as detention, on- or off-campus suspension or alternative education placement at a separate campus in Kilgore are used, Echols said.
Wes Jones, superintendent for Spring Hill Independent School District, said the high school has avoided using corporal punishment. "We feel like they are young adults now and that we can use alternatives such as before, after and in-school detentions for punishment," Jones said.
He said the other grades use corporal punishment in moderation determined by the administrator.
Longview Christian School and East Texas Christian School believe in administering corporal punishment when all other methods have failed. "As a Christian school, we believe in a biblically based approach," said Phil Brown, administrator at East Texas Christian School in Longview.
Brown said paddling is done with parental permission, and it is never done in anger. He added that corporal punishment is used only after all other avenues of dealing with misbehavior have been exhausted. "We pray with the students both before and after, and we want them to realize that there are consequences for poor choices," Brown said.
He said corporal punishment does help students at his school to behave better.
Parents of prospective students at Longview Christian School must agree to allowing their children to be paddled as part of the admissions process. Principal Mark Clark said the school follows God's principles and Scripture on the matter, adding that paddling is a last resort, and will only happen after teachers, parents and administrators have gone through all other channels.
"We do have that option in our school, and we feel it is an acceptable form of punishment for rebellious behavior," Clark said. "We can't throw the parent out of the equation, and I think both the parent and school need to work together to mold the child," Clark said.
Wichita Eagle, Kansas, 20 February 2007
Spanking bill dies in Senate
The bill's author, Sen. Phil Journey, concedes his effort to protect educators who spank students hasn't garnered much support.
By Dion Lefler
TOPEKA - A bill to make it easier to spank kids in school is facing suspension in the state Senate.
The chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, and the bill's author, Phil Journey, R-Haysville, said they think the bill is done for, at least for the current session.
Senate Bill 280 would have shielded educators from liability for administering corporal punishment and would have established guidelines for spanking in schools. Current law allows spanking if the local school board approves it by policy, but officials say corporal punishment is seldom used.
Schodorf said she allowed a hearing on the bill as a courtesy to Journey, but added: "I didn't see any enthusiasm to move it from the committee."
"I think it's dead," Journey said after the hearing.
Because of its subject matter, the bill was one of the more closely watched ideas to emerge in the current legislative session. Journey said he received calls from media from as far away as Iran. It was also, according to Journey, "the most misunderstood bill filed this session."
"If you read the (newspaper) editorials, you'd think I wanted every child in the state to be spanked," Journey said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
Journey told the committee that state law is largely silent on the issue of corporal punishment, leaving it up to individual school districts to decide. That could mean teachers in Kansas are not protected by a federal liability shield law, he said. He said he's also talked to teachers who are leaving the profession, despite a growing teacher shortage, because of inadequate discipline in schools.
Opponents of the bill, including the Kansas National Education Association and Families United for Education, urged the committee to gut the bill and replace it with a statewide ban on school spanking.
Kathy Cook of Families United called spanking "ineffective" and said it sends children a message that using violence to solve problems is OK.
And KNEA lobbyist Mark Dessetti testified that association teachers have rejected corporal punishment in 10 separate votes since 1979.
He also said he thinks corporal punishment is irrelevant to teacher recruitment and retention. "Nobody's going to become a teacher because they have the opportunity to whip kids," he said.
© 2007 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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