Corpun file 19689
The New York Times, 26 September 1907
Rod May Be Used In Schools Again
Board of Education Orders Inquiry Into Reports That Moral
Suasion Does No Good.
Vote Is Nineteen To Ten
Some Members Opposed to Old System, but Are Willing to
Investigate -- No Money for New Schools.
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The Board of Education yesterday ordered an investigation to determine whether the abolition of corporal punishment had been beneficial or detrimental to the system. The inquiry will be
conducted by a special committee of three members, to be
appointed by President Winthrop. The opinions of Superintendents
and Principals will be sought.
Moral suasion is used entirely now in the schools in disciplining
pupils. In the opinion of some School Commissioners it has proved
utterly inadequate to maintain good order and discipline. Fully
75 per cent. of the Principals are unable to preserve order in
their schools, they say. The application of moral suasion, they
said yesterday, is something like this:
When teacher isn't looking, Johnny Bad-Boy flings a blackboard
rubber at Willie Goodie-Goodie, who promptly sets up a wild yell.
Teacher takes the situation in hand.
"Johnny, you're a bad boy, aren't you?" says Teacher,
in a mild, persuasive voice. "You're sorry you hit Willie,
aren't you? And you'll never do it again?"
Johnny looks sorry and says he'll never do it again. When the
opportunity presents itself, two blackboard rubbers hit Willie,
and Johnny is the delighted culprit again.
Any return to corporal punishment will be bitterly contested,
however. Many of the Commissioners -- possibly a majority of the
board -- believe corporal punishment barbarous, and a return to
it a dangerous retrogression. They showed plainly their temper
yesterday, when the resolution calling for the investigation was
introduced, but their efforts to kill it were unavailing, owing
to lack of votes. When a final vote is taken on the matter they
will be out in force, they said.
Commissioner Jonas of Brooklyn introduced the resolution.
Immediately Commissioner Kanzler moved that it be laid on the
table, and thus blocked all discussion. Commissioner Jonas begged
the permission of the board to explain, and his request was
"Two years ago resolutions were adopted by this board
against corporal punishment in the schools," Mr. Jonas said.
"The vote was very close, however. Since then complaints
have been received from many Principals, saying that they have
been unable to control their pupils, who have indulged in
unseemly actions. No member of the board can rightfully object to
an inquiry into these conditions. It can do no harm, and may do
The motion to lay on the table was defeated by a vote of 19 to
10, and the original resolution was adopted. All the Brooklyn
Commissioners voted for the resolution. Before consolidation,
corporal punishment was permitted in the Brooklyn schools.
Corpun file 19668
The New York Times, 29 September 1907
Discipline in the Schools.
A Plea for Corporal Punishment in the Hands of a
To the Editor of The New York Times
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Those who condemn corporal punishment in the public schools do
so on the ground that it is barbarous, and that the power of
punishment is put into the hands of irresponsible persons. They,
however, neglect the undeniable fact that some natures can be
appealed to only by corporal punishment, moral suasion being
taken as and even being referred to in the hearing of teachers as
so much "hot air."
Instance after instance can be shown in this city, in which
teachers, being taunted by such insolent remarks as "You
dare not strike me," or "I will have you put out of
school if you touch me," have braved the censure of the
authorities by administering a much-deserved corporal punishment,
and invariably the result has been a raised moral tone of the
class with its accompanying improvement in schoolroom discipline.
There is no virtue or strength of character shown by a teacher
who uses moral suasion through necessity. Moral suasion is
appreciated by a certain class of children only when a teacher,
with full power of evoking corporal punishment, by strength of
character gets along without it. Then and then alone does moral
suasion have its paramount or even its just value as compared
with other methods of discipline.
Those who object to corporal punishment on the ground that it is
barbarous must remember that this problem is not a matter of
ideals and sentiment, but a very real and practical problem that
must be met. They object to the lawlessness of what they call
young "rowdies" and "hoodlums," and yet are
so purblind as not to see that the present lax discipline in the
public schools is in no small measure directly responsible for
Be sensible on this question, and put corporal punishment for
certain offenses into the hands of Principals or other
supervising officers. By this plan corporal punishment will be in
the hands of a responsible person, children will come to have a
respect for law and order, and pupils will properly appreciate
the efforts of a teacher who governs without it.
A. G. PEAKS.
New York, Sept. 27, 1907.
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