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The Tennessean, Nashville, 6 June 1999
Big dreams for the future
By Diane Long
With four tough years behind them, the future is bright for this year's 224 valedictorians and salutatorians in Middle Tennessee.
All but a few are headed directly for college, with a couple who are planning a year of volunteer work before they make their final decision.
For almost three-fourths, the road to college carries on a family tradition where one or both parents graduated. But 27% are trailblazers as the first in their families to attend college.
"I always knew I would go," said Shauntaye Mayo, valedictorian at Maplewood High in Nashville. She'll attend Alabama A&M University on a full scholarship.
"Other people in my family have graduated (from high school) and said, 'I'm going,' and then they wait and don't go. That's not going to be me. I know what I want, and in order to get it, I know I have to go to college."
As a group, the academically talented students are aiming for solid careers in medicine, business and engineering. They have high hopes that their generation's future will be better than the world their parents have faced.
The rosy profile emerges from The Tennessean's annual poll of the highest-achievement students in a 10-county area. The survey was a 1996 addition to "Best & Brightest," the feature that's now in its 12th year of honoring the area's top high school graduates.
This year, 96% of the students responded to the unscientific survey that examined the personal, family, school and political views of the exceptional young people.
Besides their great expectations, the survey shows an overall conservative attitude among the students, a trend that's been repeated all four years of the poll.
The survey, which included students from 56 public and 30 private schools, indicates:
In the areas of abortion and corporal punishment in schools, the students are continuing a conservative stance.
Last year, 61% of students said they did not support a woman's legal right to an abortion. This year, 45% said abortion should never be permitted, and 32% said it should be legal only in certain circumstances.
Concerning paddling in school, 28% said it's acceptable in elementary school, up 8% from last year, and one-third say it's OK at all levels.
"I didn't get in trouble all the time, but when I did, I was spanked," said Becky Patenaude, valedictorian at Harpeth High in Kingston Springs.
"It didn't necessarily hurt, but it was an embarrassing punishment, and it made me cry. Now, most of the kids I have met who are well-behaved have been spanked. And most of the kids who are not well behaved have never been spanked."
Mary Anne Ingram, salutatorian at White House High, advocates corporal punishment as an alternative to current discipline methods.
"All of this in-school suspension and stuff, it's a joke," she said. "Some of the kids get it just so they can get out of class and hang out down there. If parents had to miss work to come in for a meeting -- if somehow the parents got punished, too, -- then something would get done because it would bring it to their attention."
More than one-fourth listed the quality of their education as "excellent," up from 20% last year. Overwhelmingly, the two areas most dissatisfying were overall school funding and the limited number of Advanced Placement classes, which challenge high school students to earn college credit.
Although 64% plan to attend college in Tennessee, they feel little loyalty to adult life in the state, with 61% saying that living in their hometown area wasn't very important.
"I like the South, and I wouldn't want to move west or north," said Ingram, who's leaving White House for Centre College in Kentucky. "But for working, the state's not that important."
© Copyright 2000 The Tennessean
The Washington Times, D.C., 7 June 1999
Behave, or else
By Deborah Simmons
In another earlier time, children who misbehaved were punished at home, at school and, if elsewhere, by any adult on the scene. Today they are more likely to be dubbed "at-risk" and put in a special-education program. The child goes undisciplined.
There's no way to prove that a little of that old-time punishment might have forestalled the behavior that led to the terrible events in Littleton, Colo., or Conyers, Ga. And school districts around the country have no small amount of experience in such matters, having had to deal with crack-cocaine and gang-related violence for more than a decade.
But at the risk of offending modern sensibilities, why not attempt to deter bad, even destructive, behavior as our parents once did. Why not spankings and corporal punishment?
While two-dozen states are now holding parents liable for their children' s criminal behavior, ordering them to pay financial restitution and making them targets of lawsuits, most states outlaw corporal punishment. The District, for example, banned corporal punishment in 1918, and most states and local school districts have various anti-spanking laws. Nonetheless, until the early 1980s, school officials visited mild physical discipline on classrooms to keep smart alecks and potential malefactors in check. There was nothing wrong with a whack with the teacher's paddle or ruler. Or a smack on a wee one's hands to let her know that what she had done was flat out wrong -- and, more importantly, that she was never to do it again.
Two generations ago, parents would probably back the teacher up, as they all were part of the same community, often living in the same neighborhoods or attending the same church as their students. These days though, parents only come to know their children's teachers through PTA meetings and annual spaghetti dinners. Oh well.
These days public schools are more inclined to dispense condoms than discipline, giving young people license to do as they very well please, including having sexual relations at 12 and 13 years old. Spanking lets a child know early on that he or she made a wrong move. Why is it OK to smack a toddler's hands when they touch the stove or snatch the leaves off a potted plant, but not OK to grab Dad's belt and make teens just a little more uncomfortable when they sit down? To let them know that 12 o'clock curfew means just that?
Oklahoma has offered such an old-fashioned approach, passing a passel of laws that encourage parents to discipline their children physically. The last time such talk made the rounds in Washington was in the early 1990s, when then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly said spankings and corporal punishment do more good than harm. As you might imagine, the voices of opposition (unions, PTAs and the like) were far louder, saying violence begets more of the same. How wrong they were.
We have, as a whole, become so permissive that children are often clueless about the thin line that separates morality from immorality. We do not peer into their bedrooms for fear of trampling on their "rights," and we dare not question their comings and goings for fear of offending them. What's worse? Discovering bad conduct or looking the other way and allowing it to continue.
My daddy, rest his soul, used to threaten my brothers, sister and me with whippings if we broke one of his rules. His strap, a tattered and buckleless belt, was kept in the living room as a constant reminder to do the right thing or else. My school teachers had their instruments of discipline as well. One, Nola B. Roy, who taught two generations of sixth-graders at Moten Elementary in Southeast Washington, kept her ruler at the ready, smacking the hands of boys and girls who were disruptive or smart-mouthed. Interestingly enough, when some of my former classmates and I get together we laugh and joke about Mrs. Roy's disciplinary measures. Today's students rail against teachers who dare to exercise similar judgment.
At this juncture, special-ed programs, so-called alternative schools
and the justice system are eating up precious tax dollars that would
be better spent on academic programs. They are symptomatic of the
problems facing educators since they cut out corporal punishment and
banned school prayer. We, in whole and in part, prefer to wean our
children on the pleasures of life (letting them dress and eat as they
please) but deny them the fundamental values of living a good life.
Instead of letting our children pacify themselves with video games,
we parents must lay down the rules by which they are to abide and
discipline ourselves to carry out the appropriate punishment. If
that be by spanking, so be it.
Deborah Simmons is an editorial writer for The Washington Times.
Copyright © 1999 News World Communications, Inc.
Toledo Blade, Ohio, 12 June 1999
Warren principal should be fired, official says
By Clyde Hughes
A Toledo Public Schools administrator has recommended that the principal of Warren Elementary School be fired because of her use of corporal punishment to discipline pupils.
Corporal punishment was abolished in the district in 1993.
The recommendation by Stanley Woody, Scott School Improvement Leader, that Principal Helen Sallee be terminated was made in a disciplinary hearing report by Joanne Koch, the district's director of labor relations, issued April 13.
The report was obtained from Ms. Sallee's personnel file.
Mr. Woody declined yesterday to elaborate on the report, and Ms. Sallee could not be reached for comment.
The hearing was disclosed as several parents protested yesterday at Warren against Ms. Sallee for what they called inappropriate disciplinary practices by the principal. The protest was organized by the African-American Parent Associations.
"We are aware of problems at the school and we're dealing with them," Mr. Woody said. "There are allegations and there has to be due process."
Dr. Merrill Grant, superintendent of schools; Richard Daoust, the deputy superintendent, and Ms. Koch could not be reached for comment.
During Ms. Sallee's April disciplinary hearing, Mr. Woody testified that Ms. Sallee admitted that on two occasions in December she went to the homes of pupils and spanked them.
Mr. Woody said Ms. Sallee told him that she had the permission of the grandparent of one pupil and the parents of the other pupil, the report stated.
Mr. Woody said that in March, 1994, Ms. Sallee, while assistant principal of Martin Luther King, Jr., Elementary, was disciplined for using corporal punishment.
David McClellan, president of the Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel, the union representing Ms. Sallee, complained about the hearing, stating that his client signed a "buff sheet" on March 8, agreeing to end her use of corporal punishment.
The sheet, found in Ms. Sallee's personnel files, stated that "Any further incidents will be just cause to hold a hearing for the record and seek additional disciplinary action."
Mr. Woody said he found additional evidence of corporal punishment when he continued to investigate Ms. Sallee and called for the hearing.
Ms. Sallee declined to answer questions during the hearing on the advice of Mr. McClellan, the report stated.
A hall monitor who attended both spankings in December, Patricia Blubaugh-Wright, was removed from the school, the report stated.
Ms. Koch, in the report, said she strongly recommended that Mr. Woody, Mr. McClellan, and Ms. Sallee have a meeting with Mr. Daoust to "explore alternative employment" for Ms. Sallee within the district.
© 1999, The Blade, All Rights Reserved.
Associated Press, 14 June 1999
Campbell trustees not ready to ban school spanking
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - School trustees voted against a proposal that would have prohibited corporal punishment in Campbell County schools. "Building administrators should be able to spank a child if they think it is appropriate," said board member Burke Jackson. "I think they should have that if they think it will get the child's attention."
School attorney Frank Stevens had proposed that corporal punishment not be used in any Campbell County school, although state law allows each district the punishment option if it chooses.
"Over the years, we have gotten real lax with how teachers can deal with students," said Jackson. "I'm saddened that our legislators have given us something with some teeth to it, but it's so watered down here that it doesn't really have any bite."
Stevens' proposal, rejected by trustees Monday, read: "No employee of Campbell County School District may administer any form of corporal punishment. Hair pulling, pinching, slapping and other such forms of physical punishment are against Board policy."
Trustee Bob Innes said that teachers need some leeway.
"At some times, a teacher needs to restrain a student in an altercation," he said.
Teachers, however, also need some legal protection beyond existing law, he said.
"We need to have some things in place that offer good protection for staff and show kids that there is a policy out there," he said.
Trustees will review possible changes to the discipline policy at a July meeting, officials said.
Associated Press, 15 June 1999
Students have choice
Campbell County trustees approve school-spanking
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - The Campbell County School Board has approved a policy that allows students to be spanked for bad behavior. The board voted 4-2 to give students a choice between spanking and other forms of discipline, despite reluctance by principals and opposition from parents to adopt the policy.
Trustee Debbie McLeland said that although she has spanked her children as a parent, a spanking policy in the schools sends the wrong message.
"I think that discipline is one of the most important things we can teach our children," she said. "But I do not support corporal punishment."
Trustee Burke Jackson said spanking wouldn't be necessary if parents were doing their job at home.
"When I first brought this up, my intent was to bring awareness to the board concerning discipline in this school district and problems facing the disrespect and misbehavior of students," Jackson said. "Whatever we come up with, it has to have some teeth to it to get people's attention."
The policy, adopted Wednesday, requires the spanking to be administered by the principal, assistant principal or a designee, and it must be supervised by another adult.
Chairman Kim Sorensen said an unofficial poll shows 89 percent of respondents favor the policy.
He said he doubts many students will be spanked.
"It's one thing in a group of things. I'm not sure it's for every kid, and it won't be used for every kid," he said.
The policy also allows staff to physically control or remove students from a classroom.
"If something happens, teachers need to know we are going to stand behind them," Sorensen said.
The policy is expected to take effect next year.
Copyright 1999 Associated Press.
San Jose Mercury News, California, 16 June 1999
Law would require courtesy at school
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Respect is about to become the law in Louisiana's classrooms.
The Legislature is on the verge of passing Gov. Mike Foster's bill requiring students to address teachers and other school employees as "Ma'am" or "Sir" or use the appropriate title of Mr., Miss, Ms. or Mrs.
It could be the first such law in the nation.
Lest it be dismissed as a knee-jerk answer to the recent violence at Columbine High and other schools, the Republican governor stressed: "It's something I've been thinking about for a long time."
The Senate approved the bill 34-5 last month, the House 89-19 this week. A final Senate vote on House amendments could take place some time before Monday night when the Legislature adjourns.
The bill leaves it up to school boards to decide the punishment, though the House eliminated expulsion or suspension as an option.
Around the country, some school systems require parents or students to sign codes of discipline. Some states, notably Arkansas and Georgia, require "character education. But Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, said she knew of no other such attempt to require respectful conversation through state law.
"We're not trying to say this is the answer to discipline, but what do we have to lose?" said the bill's Senate sponsor, Donald Cravins, a Democrat.
The bill would apply to kindergarten through fifth grade in the school year that starts this fall. Higher grades would be phased in one year at a time.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia, 17 June 1999
Discipline is lax
Lack of discipline is the problem, not guns. I grew up in the 1950s, and I didn't shoot or kill anybody. One reason was the discipline I received at home from the time I was born and the discipline I got in school until I was 18. I got spankings, which are unheard of now. All of the how-to-raise-your-children books tell you that spanking your child will warp his personality and teach him violence. What a joke! What spanking does is teach the child to respect his parents, his teachers and law enforcement officers.
Parents today try to be their children's buddy instead of their guiding light. The home should be a dictatorship, not a democracy.
Orr, of Alpharetta, is self-employed.
Oregon Live, Portland, 30 June 1999
House endorses 'character' bill for kids
Meanwhile, the Senate kills a bill that would allow schools to administer physical punishment
From staff and wire reports
SALEM -- Moved by a spate of school violence, the Oregon House endorsed a bill Tuesday that would urge schools to teach "universally recognized" characteristics of attentiveness, obedience, truthfulness and orderliness.
But as House members signed off on character education, their colleagues in the Senate killed a bill that would have allowed physical punishment in Oregon's schools after a 10-year hiatus.
"If ever we needed to push the reset button with children's character, this is the time," Rep. Kathy Lowe, D-Milwaukie, said during the debate about House Bill 2670.
That bill would encourage schools to implement a program produced in Oklahoma called Character First! or a similar program that would teach students in kindergarten through sixth grade the value of good character.
Qualities such as forgiveness, generosity, sincerity, patience, self-control, punctuality, discretion, diligence, boldness, cautiousness, sensitivity, respect and honesty would be highlighted.
Some lawmakers said the state shouldn't be in the business of defining moral character. Others objected to a portion of the bill that reads: "A great number of school children are coming from single-parent families, which may make them more vulnerable to peer dependence, drugs, promiscuity and gangs."
"We're basically saying single-parent families can't teach their children character," said Rep. Judy Uherbelau, D-Ashland, who raised her two daughters alone.
The bill moved to the Senate on a 41-15 vote after sponsors said the time is ripe for such legislation, especially in light of the school shootings in Springfield and Littleton, Colo.
"We see the tragedies of school shootings and only bills that deal with surface symptoms," said Rep. Bruce Starr, R-Aloha, the bill's chief sponsor.
The bill would have the Department of Education apply for federal grants that could be used for character education programs.
Separately Tuesday, the Senate put an end to a debate about spanking in schools that began with a bill sponsored by freshman Rep. Jeff Kropf, R-Halsey.
Amended before it reached the Senate floor, House Bill 2828 no longer would have changed the state law prohibiting corporal punishment in schools. Instead, it would give school employees civil immunity for disciplining students, as long as they followed state law and school disciplinary policies.
Kropf said the idea was to allow educators to develop sensible discipline rules without fearing student or parental lawsuits. But it was concern about spanking that seemed to doom the bill.
As Kropf protested from the sidelines of the Senate chamber, senators opposing the bill said it was worded in a way that would open the door to spanking.
"You have an opening you could drive a Mack truck through," said Sen. Tony Corcoran, D-Cottage Grove.
He noted one section would allow school districts "greater flexibility" in disciplining students, including the use of physical punishment. The bill said physical punishment could include -- "but is not limited to" -- requiring students to do "push-ups, run laps, hold up books or sit in the corner."
Sen. Joan Dukes, D-Astoria, said the bill also didn't encourage sound methods of helping children who have dyslexia or other learning disorders.
Sen. Charles Starr, R-Hillsboro, defended the bill, saying it would make only minor changes in the law but would let schools enforce tougher discipline.
The 1989 Legislature outlawed corporal punishment after proponents said using physical force to get unruly students' attention sets a poor example for other children.
Kropf's original bill also faced opposition from the Oregon Education Association, the state's biggest teachers' union.
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