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School CP - December 2018

Corpun file 26764 at

Bowling Green Daily News, Kentucky, 9 December 2018

Our opinion

Use of corporal punishment should be local choice

State Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, has filed a bill for the upcoming session that would ban corporal punishment in all public schools in the state.

Riley's bill, if passed, would remove corporal punishment as a form of discipline in all schools and church-related, privately operated child-caring agencies or facilities.

State law does not mandate the use of corporal punishment. Instead, school districts can individually determine policy. Currently, 17 school districts in Kentucky still use corporal punishment. During the 2016-17 school year, there were 334 incidents of corporal punishment in these districts.

Under Riley's proposal, "school administrators, teachers or other certified personnel, office staff, instructional assistants and coaches and extracurricular sponsors who are employed by a school district shall not use corporal physical discipline, including the use of spanking, shaking or paddling, as a means of punishment, discipline, behavior modification, or for any other reason."

It is obviously Riley's prerogative to file this bill, as he filed the same legislation last session. The legislation he filed last year went nowhere during the 60-day session.

While we respect Riley -- who was a career educator before entering politics -- and admire him for some very good things he has done in the legislature, we just flat-out disagree with him on this particular issue.

We disagree with Riley's bill for two reasons.

First, we believe there are some parents in this state who simply don't discipline their kids. They let them get away with too many things and don't teach their kids any limits. Instead of doing their parental duties, they ship them off to public schools for teachers to deal with. In many cases, teachers have one hand tied behind their backs in dealing with some of these kids who continually cause disturbances in their classrooms, using foul language toward them and showing no respect for these teachers.

With continued disturbances in the classroom, administrators should have the option to discipline a student, including by paddling or spanking after several warnings are given to that student. Perhaps after this disciplinary action is taken, the student will think twice about causing disturbances in the classroom or talking back or using foul language to a teacher.

Finally, the decision to allow corporal punishment in schools should be a local decision. Local school teachers and administrators see every day what is going on in their schools better than someone in Frankfort. Local school boards should make the decision to allow or not allow corporal punishment. In fact, the main negative feedback Riley received last session was exactly what we just mentioned.

At the end of the day, we don't by any means believe administrators enjoy paddling or spanking children, but we do believe that in some cases there is still a need for corporal punishment in public schools in our state. That's why we support the continued use of this practice in these schools if local school boards make that choice.

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