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School CP - December 2004

Corpun file 14681


The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 2 December 2004

No discipline in schools? Expect more basket brawls

By Kamikaze
Special to The Clarion-Ledger

By now, everyone's familiar with the infamous basket-brawl that took place recently.

Of course, we know the blame can be spread evenly among players and officials. However, it is my opinion that the majority of the blame lies with the fans.

Particularly those that threw beer and came down onto the court.

Unfortunately, this is simply a sign of the times. We have found ourselves in a society where people aren't afraid of authority. A time where folks don't fear consequences.

A time where discipline has been thrown out the window in the wake of political correctness.

And who's suffering? Our youth.

Kids today have absolutely no respect for their elders. Anarchy rules in the public school system, and in the war on ignorance and illiteracy, teachers and administrators are severely low on ammo.

Whoever the geniuses were that barred corporal punishment from Jackson Public Schools need to be cowering over the stupidity of their decision.

You've done nothing more than promote lawlessness in our classrooms.

In my day, the mere presence of a sturdy board was enough to deter me from cutting up in school.

Students today walk through the doors on Day 1 of each school year knowing they can't be touched. They can basically do or say anything with only minor repercussions.

When I've gone into schools to either speak or perform, I've witnessed young men and women talk back to teachers, coaches and even security with no remorse.

Gone are the days when a male teacher or coach could snatch up an insubordinate and put the fear of God into him or her. Now, teachers are the ones getting attacked.

And you want to blame hip-hop? No, sir -- can't let you do it.

The blame lies with parents who don't discipline their kids, then send them to school and expect teachers to control them.

The blame lies with administrators who let parents scare them with lawsuits. The blame lies with lawmakers who won't make teachers' salaries competitive.

I have a high school classmate who recently returned to Mississippi to teach. He refused to take a position in JPS, choosing Rankin county instead, because as he says, "they don't let teachers discipline the kids in JPS."

To put it bluntly, we are spoiling the children by sparing the rod. We need to reinstate corporal punishment in JPS or we may soon see one of our kids throwing objects on athletes at some televised sporting event.

Kamikaze is a Jackson-based rapper.

Corpun file 14743

The Tennessean, Nashville, 4 December 2004

Midstate briefs: Rutherford County

Policy to let parents decide on paddling

By Clay Carey

The Rutherford County Board of Education has unanimously approved changes to the school system's corporal-punishment policy.

Under the new policy, parents will decide at the beginning of the school year whether or not corporal punishment can be used on their children, and parents can also opt to be notified if school administrators are considering paddling their children. The policy revision mandates that only principals or vice principals can hand out corporal punishment.

The new policy, which was quickly approved by the school board without discussion Thursday night, will be implemented at the beginning of the next school year, according to school system spokesman James Evans.

At that time, parents will receive a form in the student handbook that will allow them to inform the school system whether they want their child paddled, and if they want school administrators to notify them beforehand.

The school board initiated the policy change after the family of a Rock Springs Middle School student sued the system claiming that a paddling the 14-year-old received at the school last year left significant bruises.

© Copyright 2004 The Tennessean A Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper

Corpun file 14742


The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, 5 December 2004


Why ban what so many want?

By Noel G.L. Hutchinson Jr.
Special to Viewpoint

Experts have critiqued it. Teachers have opinions about it. Parents have been for or against it.

There is probably no one in this community who doesn't have a definite thought about it.

The issue of paddling in Memphis City Schools came to a resolution last month when the school board voted to remove corporal punishment from schools starting next fall. This issue, then, is over. Or is it?

The Memphis City Schools is 87 percent African-American. Based on recent surveys and weighing general commentary in the community, it is safe to say that a good number of African-Americans wholeheartedly support corporal punishment.

Many whom I have spoken to in churches, schools, barbershops, supermarkets and other places were disappointed with the board's vote. This sentiment runs contrary to many experts who cite the detrimental and ineffective aspects of paddling.

It may be easy to say, "the vote has been taken, so let's move on." However, it's not quite that simple.

Whenever you have a situation where people representing 87 percent of your clientele disagree in principle with a decision, the root causes of the disconnect should be examined.

I believe there are some reasons why we find great support in the African-American community for paddling. The first is found in the teachings of the African-American church.

From the earliest days of our nation, the church was fragmented sociologically on the basis of race, and the church in the black community became a source of strength, sustenance and direction.

One of its principal teachings deals with the training of children. Scripture verses such as, "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it," and sayings such as "spare the rod, spoil the child," resonate with many African-Americans and seem to be part of our DNA.

My 83-year-old mother, for example, lives by this credo. When I was growing up she had no problem applying the rod of correction to the seat of my understanding, many times at the very scene of my transgression.

The second reason is found partly in the realities of African-American life. During the time of Jim Crow segregation, discipline was a necessary part of survival.

To lead an undisciplined life in certain aspects could be disastrous. Discipline could be the difference between either an event-free day and life or "reckless eyeballing" and death.

It was a way to ensure that lives and livelihoods would be preserved. Many a mother has told a son, "I'd rather whip you to keep the police from having to beat you."

After hearing some of the reasons why so many people affirm corporal punishment, we must now look at where we are. Paddling will be gone from our public school system next fall. How should we proceed from here?

Something is needed to curb the erosion of values and discipline in our schools. The suspension of the eighth grade class at Geeter Middle School is an example of this need.

These challenges make the difficult job facing our public school system even harder. Whether you are for or against corporal punishment, I'm sure you would agree that something must be done to make Memphis City Schools a better and safer learning environment for all students.

For me, the answer begins in the home. I reflect again on my 83-year-old mother. She practiced corporal punishment and much more.

She made sure that I was exposed to the wider world at an early age through books and magazines. She set curfews and demanded discipline and respect.

I'm 6-4, and look like a retired football player. My mother is 5-6. But you already know who was in charge. She was.

My mother never allowed me to run her house. She also lived in front of me the kind of life that she wanted to see from me. When I didn't get the message, privileges such as television and seeing friends were taken away. Corporal punishment was the last resort.

My mother's method is a good example to follow. Parents and guardians -- whether that's mother and father, a single mother, single father, grandmother, aunt, uncle or other adult -- must show their children that they are loved.

And they must seek resources to help expand their children's horizons. There is no reason for a parent coming to a school to hear why his child got suspended for participating in a food fight being placed in a squad car for disorderly conduct.

We must view our community as a village where everyone has a vested interest. Teachers must view every child as if they are his or her own. Those who are able can mentor and teach. Others can share resources.

The village must raise those who have no model of excellence or nurturing atmosphere at home. Churches and various community centers are resources that can help with our children.

Every one of us bears responsibility for making a difference that will ensure the ability of our youth to grow, learn and behave in Memphis City Schools.

Noel G. L. Hutchinson Jr. is chaplain at LeMoyne-Owen College and pastor of First Baptist Church Lauderdale.

Copyright 2004, - Memphis, TN. All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 14718


The Dallas Morning News, 10 December 2004

Trustees quarrel about paddling policy

Number of parents who will allow corporal punishment shrinks

By Tawnell D. Hobbs
The Dallas Morning News

Parents in the Dallas school district have had a change of heart about corporal punishment.

The number of parents who gave permission for their children to be paddled at school dropped about 86 percent this school year. Only 453 parents turned in consent forms, compared with 3,335 last school year.

"Not too many people are interested in having corporal punishment administered to their children," trustee Ken Zornes said at Wednesday night's board meeting. "Hitting a child with a board is not the answer."

Mr. Zornes plans to push for the issue of corporal punishment to be placed on next week's agenda. He hopes to get four trustees to agree to a ban.

Last school year, 261 paddlings were administered, compared with six so far this year.

Corporal punishment was a source of contention last year. Some trustees wanted to stop paddling, while others thought it was a disciplinary tool needed by principals. Trustees ended up implementing a policy that required parents to request in writing whether they want their children to be disciplined by paddling.

Some opponents of corporal punishment criticized the district for stopping short of a prohibition. Twenty-eight states have banned the practice, according to the Center for Effective Discipline.

The majority of Dallas parents who consented to corporal punishment live in the southern area of the city. The Martin Luther King Learning Center in South Dallas had the majority of consents with 170.

The board meeting turned heated as trustees debated the issue. Trustee Hollis Brashear, a supporter of corporal punishment, told trustees the discussion was a waste of time.

"We ought to be talking about how we improve the classroom discipline," Mr. Brashear said. "We get more out of that than we can sitting around here talking about what's right about paddling kids."

Trustee Ron Price said many parents in his area in the southern sector prefer the punishment to having their children suspended from school.

"The issue is parents' right of choice," Mr. Price said. "The present policy is parents' rights."

Trustee Jerome Garza voiced concern about possible legal action over a paddling.

"All it takes is one lawsuit, and our funds are depleted," he said.

Trustee Jack Lowe said experts think paddling is inappropriate.

"I think we ought to do away with it," he said.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Price admonished trustees for even discussing such a controversial matter while the district is searching for a new superintendent.

Before the discussion, trustees had received a report from the Superintendent Search Advisory Committee. It contained a list of 19 recommended criteria for the next superintendent.

The recommended criteria include hiring someone with a proven track record in an urban district, such as Dallas; an individual who would communicate with schools, teachers, parents and the community; and a person who would address all students, with a special focus on black and Latino children.

blob Follow-up: 17 December 2004 - Paddling on hold in DISD

Corpun file 14721

Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Florida, 11 December 2004

Pastor's paddling sentence tossed

By Michael A. Scarcella

CHARLOTTE COUNTY -- The state appeals court in Lakeland reversed a Port Charlotte pastor's felony child abuse conviction for paddling a student with a wooden board.

The appeals court ruled Friday that the 2001 paddling was not a felony.

Paul Eric King, a pastor at Harborview Church for 10 years and a teacher and administrator at Charlotte Regional Christian Academy, was sentenced to a year of community control and four years' probation for the paddling, which left the student with bruises and welts.

King's sentence also included psychological and anger counseling. He testified that the 8-year-old girl was a disciplinary problem and deserved to be paddled. Church members attended the trial in support of King.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that spankings that cause significant bruising or welts do not meet the legal requirements of felony child abuse. That charge requires "more serious beatings," according to the appeals court, which cited other cases in its three-page opinion.

King's wife, Kendra, said on Friday that she and her husband heard about the ruling this week, but didn't want to comment.

Judge Thomas E. Stringer, the appellate judge who wrote the opinion, said that one of the disciplinary policies at the academy is corporal punishment and that parents sign consent forms that allow the punishment.

King struck student Kimberly Malloy twice with a wooden paddle. The girl had bruises for two weeks. The pastor said Kimberly had been cheating in his class and had had other disciplinary incidents in the span of one week.

Ronnie Pipkin told authorities the paddling left her daughter with "a mark about 4 inches wide and 6 inches long." Pipkin could not be reached for comment Friday.

The paddling took place in a classroom away from other students and was witnessed by King's wife and a school volunteer, who later described the incident as "shocking."

"I've seen kids get spanked and, yes, their faces get red and they do cry," Helen Norman, the volunteer who witnessed the spanking said in 2001. "But this child screamed and her face became beet red. It sent chills up my back -- I can just imagine what it did to her butt."

Kimberly did not require medical treatment.

While Pipkin said her daughter became withdrawn after the paddling, there was no evidence of mental impairment, Stringer wrote in his opinion. The paddling, the judge said, could rise to the level of a misdemeanor crime.

Bob Sparks, the state attorney general's spokesman, said Friday that his office has discussed filing for a second hearing before the full appellate panel of 14 judges.

The official could also appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, he said.

King, 50, had been free on $20,000 bail since his arrest in July 2001. A circuit judge denied a prosecutor's request to have someone monitor King to make sure he did not oversee corporal punishment of children.

Judge Isaac Anderson said in court that he needed witnesses to substantiate why King should be supervised.

Because there was no testimony, Anderson could not validate the state's allegations.

blob Follow-up: 5 February 2005 - Florida Supreme Court may hear child paddling case

Corpun file 14894

Dalton Daily Citizen, Georgia, 15 December 2004

Paddling OK'd at Murray academy

By Misty Watson

Even though students at Murray County's Ninth Grade Academy can now receive paddlings as an alternative source of punishment, school officials say it is not an uncommon practice.

Members of the board of education voted unanimously Monday night to allow paddlings at the academy as an alternative to in school suspensions. Parents must agree to the paddlings.

All but two of the nine county schools allow and have allowed paddlings with parental consent for years, said Dean Donehoo, director of administrative services.

Spring Place Elementary School and Murray County High School do not allow paddling, even at a parent's request, Donehoo said. The decision whether to permit paddling is left up to each school's administrators.

Most of the time, paddlings are done at the student's or parent's request, Donehoo said. Paddlings are given instead of in-school suspension because while on in-school suspension students cannot participate in after-school activities such as football games, wrestling matches or band concerts, he said.

School administrators requested paddlings be allowed at the Ninth Grade Academy because parents requested it and because the high school and academy rotate in school suspension on a weekly basis, Donehoo said, meaning it may be a week before a student in trouble could fulfill the in-school suspension.

The paddlings will only be given by an administrator, not teachers, he said.

State law allows paddlings without parental consent, but Donehoo said most schools do not do that for public relations reasons.

According to state law, parents must present medical reasons why a paddling would be detrimental to the student's health before a school is not allowed to paddle, he said.

Dalton Public Schools has a policy allowing paddling, but paddling has not been used in the system's schools since the board of education restricted corporal punishment in 1988, community relations director Deana Farmer said.

"In practice, we do not use that as a discipline method," Farmer said. Records show the policy has not been enforced in nearly 20 years, she said.

"We do have a policy on the books that allows corporal punishment as an option, but we operate under an administrative regulation that does not allow it," she said.

The policy states corporal punishment should not be used as the first line of punishment unless the student's offense is "so antisocial or disruptive in nature as to shock the conscience."

Marlene Escobedo, a spokeswoman for Whitfield County Schools, said paddling was banned in the county schools several years ago.

Staff writer Eric Beavers contributed to this story.

© 2004 The Daily Citizen. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 14735

Tahlequah Daily Press, Oklahoma, 15 December 2004

Administrators say discipline program working

By Sean Kennedy
Press Staff Writer


New discipline programs at Tahlequah Junior High School and Tahlequah High School are having an impact, school administrators told those at Monday night's Tahlequah I-35 Board of Education meeting.

"This came about last year when we began dialoguing about what we could do with our children rather than sending them home [for discipline problems]," said Superintendent Paul Hurst. "The administrators at the junior high and high school have been working on different expectations for our students."

Administrators last year started looking at alternatives to giving students out-of-school suspensions for discipline problems, because the number of suspensions was increasing and causing enrollment issues.

Each time a student is suspended, he is taken off the school's rolls and then has to be re-enrolled when he comes back to school. The suspensions were requiring a great deal of paperwork for administrators, and have also affected the amount of money the school is receiving because enrollment numbers have changed, said TJHS Vice Principal David Bookout.

During the first quarter of the school term last year, 94 students at TJHS were suspended. At the end of the first quarter this year, only three have been suspended.

In-school suspension was one alternative to out-of-school suspension, but the facilities could not support the number of students in the program. Due to space limitations, some students would not face an in-school suspension until a month after the discipline problem occurred.


Students can also be placed in Short Term Alternative Placement (STAP), where they are sent home during the school day, but must return after school is over for several hours to sit with a teacher and do homework.

"This has helped us in terms of suspension times and dropping students from the roll," said Bookout.

This program was just started this year at both schools, with 55 students being placed in it during the first quarter at TJHS.

A final option reinstated this year is corporal punishment.

"It's usually paddle, swats, whatever you want to call it," said Bookout. "We follow the procedure laid out in the board policy."

Administrators obtain permission from the student's parents before administering corporal punishment.

"Some parents have said they want their children to have the option of corporal punishment and have signed the forms for it," said Bookout.

Students have opted for the "swats" to get out of a final day of in-school suspension. The person who administers the punishment can only hit twice, the maximum number allowed.

Corporal punishment was administered six times at TJHS during the first quarter and 14 times at THS.

"It will be interesting to see how this affects the dropout rate, because that affects things like our [Adequate Yearly Progress]," said board member John Day. "A lot of kids, when they get suspended and get behind, they just give up."


Corpun file 14732


The Dallas Morning News, 17 December 2004

Paddling on hold in DISD

School board approves 2-month moratorium to study discipline issue

By Tawnell D. Hobbs
The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas school board banned paddling in schools at Thursday night's meeting -- at least temporarily.

Trustees voted to implement a two-month moratorium on corporal punishment to allow administrators to come up with a proposal to ban paddling and provide alternatives to discipline students. Such a proposal would still require broad approval.

A wooden school paddle DMN File
The paddle is idle in DISD, at least for now.

Trustee Ron Price, who supports paddling, suggested the moratorium that took the place of a recommendation to immediately ban paddling in the district.

"This gives our administration the opportunity to go back and study these issues ... and bring forth a legitimate plan," he said.

The moratorium passed in a 6-2 vote. Trustees Hollis Brashear and Lew Blackburn abstained, and Joe May was absent.

The issue has split the board. Mr. Brashear, who supports paddling, accused his colleagues of not properly posting the corporal punishment item on the agenda. An attorney for the district disagreed.

The number of parents in the district who have signed forms allowing their children to be paddled has dwindled. As of last week, 453 parents had given consent, compared with 3,335 last year.

Trustee Ken Zornes, who opposes corporal punishment, said it has had permanent harmful effects on children. He said even one child harmed is too many.

"How can we take that risk?" Mr. Zornes said.

© 2004 Belo Interactive Inc.

blob Follow-up: 1 April 2005 - Paddling stopped by DISD

Corpun file 14752

Tuscaloosa News, Alabama, 18 December 2004

Anniston school board keeps paddling policy

The Associated Press

Corporal punishment will continue in Anniston schools, after the city's school reaffirmed its paddling policy.

Board members quickly and without discussion passed a resolution Thursday night reaffirming its existing policy.

"I think this is in the best interests of the school system," said Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton after the vote.

The board suspended the policy in July just before school began during a review of the school system's student code of conduct. The board reversed itself a week later, reinstating the policy after teachers, administrators and some board members complained. The board then asked for input on potential changes to the policy from an advisory committee of parents and teachers.

The committee delivered its recommendations in October, but board members then asked if there was anything wrong with the existing policy. The current policy allows principals and teachers to paddle students for minor and intermediate disciplinary violations. Felton has described it as a "last resort" punishment. Parents can ask that their children not be paddled.

Corpun file 14755

The Natchez Democrat, Mississippi, 18 December 2004

Port Gibson elementary school achieves Level 5 status

By Julie Finchley
The Natchez Democrat


Principal Larry Hooper thinks high expectations and close relationships with the students are the first steps to school success.

Hooper's school, A.W. Watson Elementary in Port Gibson, received the state's highest ranking, Level 5, based on last year's test scores. A.W. Watson's student body, 897 students, is 99 percent black and 100 percent of the students eat free lunch.

Success has been a pattern for the Claiborne County school in recent years. The school, a Level 5 in all but one of Hooper's four years, dropped to a Level 4 in 2003. Hooper is in his first year as principal, but served as assistant principal for the last three years.

Success is something Hooper intends to maintain.

He said the school has very little parental involvement, and he relies heavily on the school's teachers and administrators to ensure success.

"We have high expectations of teachers," Hooper said. "The majority of them reach my expectations."


Hooper also said he teaches good classroom manners and has a strict discipline policy. The school uses corporal punishment, but Hooper said he rarely spanks children.

In the hallways the lines are straight, the shirts are tucked in and mouths are quiet.

"We don't have discipline problems," Hooper said. "We've had no children suspended this year. It starts in the classroom. The kids don't want to let me down because they know I care about them."

His relationship with each student is something Hooper said is important to him and is important to the school.

"The kids love me," Hooper said. "They come up and shake hands and hug. At the end of the day that makes my day. I treat the kids like they are my own.

"Student morale is high, teacher morale is high. The students are happy; they can't wait to get to school."

Hooper, a Natchez resident and graduate of Natchez High, said his home district was important to him.

"I'm a product of the Natchez public school system," he said. "I'm proud of the Natchez public school system and I wish more people took pride in the Natchez-Adams School District."

© 2002 Natchez Newspapers Inc. All rights reserved. A Boone Newspapers Inc. publication.

Corpun file 14757

The Paris News, Paris, Texas, 19 December 2004

Schools give punishment options

By Mary Madewell
The Paris News

Should students be paddled?

That question may come before area school boards in light of recent developments both locally as well as in the Dallas area, where a two-month moratorium on corporal punishment was instituted last week.

Corporal punishment is an accepted practice at Lamar County schools and one of many discipline management techniques used to maintain a safe, orderly learning environment. But parents may opt out of corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure for their children, according to a survey of student discipline policies at the county's five school districts.

Corporal punishment as an issue in area schools was brought to light recently when two parents filed complaints with law enforcement officials after five boys received paddlings during a Prairiland Independent School District athletic practice.

The case is still under investigation by the Lamar County Sheriff's Office, department officials say.

Blossom Elementary Principal Jon Lilley said corporal punishment is one of many disciplinary techniques used in Prairiland schools and supported by school board policy.

The Prairiland administrator furnished The Paris News with copies of school board policy, student handbooks and an enrollment card, which requires a parent signature acknowledging that the parent has read and agrees with the rules listed in the book, including discipline procedures.

"A parent can always request that their child not be spanked or paddled," Lilley said.

For students in preschool through fifth grade, teachers also send home a form requiring a parent signature. The form asks parents to check that the child may or may not receive swats at school.

"A high standard of acceptable behavior is essential in school," the Prairiland student code states. "Discipline will be in accordance to the Prairiland I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct and state-approved Discipline Management Plan."

Other forms of discipline used include counseling; parent-teacher conferences; cooling-off or time-out; verbal correction; withdrawal of privileges; sending the student to the office or other assigned area; detention; probation; rewards for acceptable behavior or demerits for unacceptable behavior; referral to an outside agency or authority; assignment to on-campus suspension; home-based suspension; mandatory removal to an alternative education program and expulsion until the end of the school year.

Other county schools have similar discipline management plans with minor differences. All contain corporal punishment as a discipline management alternative.

Roxton Superintendent Jerry Stout said corporal punishment is an effective deterrent, but that he has seen an increase in the number of parents in recent years requesting their child not be paddled.

Stout said he has noticed a trend among districts to get away from corporal punishment.

"There have been so many law suits out there," Stout said.

"Paddling is one of the last things we do," Stout said. "It usually works better on kids who are not paddled much at home. It doesn't seen to phase [sic] kids who receive frequent paddlings at home."

The issue has been in the forefront in the Dallas area in recent weeks. The Dallas Independent School District last week voted to implement the two-month moratorium on spanking, the Associated Press reported.

Dallas school trustees had considered banning paddling altogether. The number of parents who have signed forms to allow their children to be paddled has dwindled, down to 453 parents from 3,335 last year, according to the AP.

Mike Erwin, administrative assistant at Chisum Independent School District, said corporal punishment must be approved by the principal and administered in the presence of another certified professional. It must take place at a designated site out of the view of other students.

"We normally notify the parent beforehand, and discipline reports are sent home requiring a parent signature," Irwin said.

At North Lamar, school officials say that only two parents have requested their children not be paddled.

"We always give students two options," Superintendent James Dawson said. "Sometimes the kids would rather take licks and sometimes parents call requesting that their children be paddled."

Students can refuse to take licks at Paris Independent School District.

"If a student refuses, the parents are notified and another choice of consequences are given, depending upon the level of the infraction," Superintendent Paul Trull said. Students begin with three choices. Once a student uses a choice, they have a choice or two forms of discipline for a future infraction and then only one, he explained.

"Our basic policy is to use corporal punishment as a last resort," Trull said.

Copyright © 2004 The Paris News

Corpun file 14791


Macon Telegraph, Georgia, 20 December 2004

Readers speak out on school discipline

By Ed Grisamore
Telegraph Columnist

My telephone and e-mail inbox have been working overtime since Wednesday. The column about granting teachers more authority over discipline problems in the classroom struck a chord with teachers, parents and concerned readers.

Yes, I'm in favor of corporal punishment. Guess I'm one of those "spare the rod, spoil the child" people.

In fact, I told my wife we should permit our educators to expand the policies of "No Child Left Behind" to include "Bad Child Gets a Spanked Behind."

Out of more than 100 letters and calls, I've only had two negative responses. Both were from attorneys who objected to my comment that, if we're not careful, we're going to "drive teachers from careers in education the same way frivolous malpractice suits are pushing doctors out of the medical profession."

Here are some excerpts from a few of the letters I received.

"I'm a retired Bibb County public school teacher, and I would still be teaching if not for the discipline problems in our schools. The general public has no idea of the diverse backgrounds of students that enter our classrooms each day and the constant stress that we find ourselves dealing with. I predict that more teachers will 'snap' and the teacher shortage will continue to worsen." (Retired Bibb County teacher)

"No one seems to want the children or the parents to be accountable for their behavior, yet teachers must toe the line. The teachers are pushed to the limit with misconduct, more and more paperwork, required courses, deadlines, etc. Someone, especially locally, needs to wake up and take a good look at what is happening, or we are going to lose many teachers due to no classroom control." (Retired Bibb County teacher)

"I am seriously considering leaving the teaching field because of the reaction to discipline in the schools. No longer do I feel comfortable hugging my kindergartners. When they are disobedient (as all 5-year-olds can be), all I can do is say 'I will call your mom.' What a cop-out! But it's all that is available to teachers. If the (mother) is not supportive, a wild thing will grow in my room. Something major is going to have to happen to regain classroom discipline so we can again teach!" (Bibb County kindergarten teacher)

"I feel like I've been beat up some days when I get home. You hit the nail on the head when you write that parents should be held more accountable for their children's behavior. Unfortunately, when I call parents, I am accused of 'picking on their child' because they don't believe their child would misbehave. I have been cursed at, told to shut up, threatened physically and disrespected daily. Teachers are gradually being worn down and making career changes." (Bibb County middle school teacher)

"Students feel empowered to do and say whatever they want while the teacher just has to take it." (Former teacher)

"The 'board' in education is certainly missing." (Bibb County high school teacher)

"Many Bibb County teachers have extremely inadequate administrative support in dealing with disciplinary matters. (While teaching) I was assaulted by students throwing objects (pennies) at me. When the students were not disciplined by the administration, I requested a transfer to a safe school environment. The transfer was denied, and I was forced to resign. ... Many teachers have unruly students who are interfering with the education and safety of the other students as well as the safety of teachers." (Former Bibb County teacher)

"We are on the verge of losing our schools! It seems a lot of adults have abdicated their responsibilities for raising and teaching the children. Somewhere along the line there has been a role reversal take place. The children are raising the parents, the children are running the schools and no one seems to care. ...Today we cater to the individual and lose sight of the fact that most of the students want a quality education. We allow a few individuals to dominate the classroom with bad behavior that drains a teacher's time and energy. We need to get back to a no-nonsense, no-tolerance base in order to serve the needs of the majority in the schools. If some of the students cannot or will not conform, then let their parents keep them home and home school their little darlings!" (Houston County substitute teacher)

"I don't believe in manhandling children nor abusing them. But sometimes you have to get their attention." (Retired teacher)

"The public needs to become increasingly aware of the growing problem of lack of discipline in school children in the 21st century. Our hands are tied, and the children do know it, and believe me, they do take full advantage of the situation. Talk about stress! It is no wonder to me that teachers are breaking under the stress. I have taught music in Bibb County for nearly 30 years, and the changes I have witnessed are frightening to say the least." (Bibb County teacher)

"Just wish every parent in the USA could read and appreciate what you had to say. I grew up in a time where respect was a required ingredient in schools. The teachers I remember with love were the ones who required respect." (Concerned reader)

"Our school board is doing nothing but reinforcing the opinion that the student is always right. What happened to the concept that the principals should back up their teachers? Please continue to champion our teachers. If we are not careful, we will have no good teachers left." (Concerned reader)

Corpun file 14920


The Dallas Morning News, Texas, 21 December 2004

Opinion: Letters for Wednesday

Board still needs board

Re: "Paddling on hold in DISD -- School board approves 2-month moratorium to study discipline issue," Friday news story.

As a former 30-year teacher-coach in the Dallas ISD, I would like to suggest that school board members who are against corporal punishment spend the next two months teaching a class in one of Dallas' middle schools.

The DISD needs to take back control of the classroom. This might be unpopular, but doing the right thing is always unpopular to those who refuse to follow rules in the first place.

Ray Kent Smith, Dallas

Corpun file 14918

Hartselle Enquirer, Alabama, 29 December 2004

HJHS tops list for discipline problems

By Clif Knight
Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle schools combined had 109 incidents involving the serious misbehavior of students during the 2003-04 academic year, according to a school safety and discipline report released to media representatives Dec. 16.

The state's education accountability law mandates that copies of the report be distributed to media, parent organizations and state legislators not later than Dec. 31.

Hartselle Junior High School's 48 incidents topped the list. Hartselle High had 38; F.E. Burleson Elementary had 22; and Crestline Elementary had one. Barkley Bridge Elementary reported no incidents.

Persistent/willful disobedience accounted for 48 of the incidents. Following in number were defiance of authority, 27, truancy/unauthorized absence and fighting, nine each, and profanity or vulgarity and threats/intimidation, eight each. Others incidents reported were: drugs possession, three, harassment, tobacco possession, alcohol possession and other sexual offenses, two each, larceny/theft/robbery/possession of stolen property, knife possession, other weapon possession, drugs sale and drugs use, one each.

Disciplinary measures taken as a result of the incidents included 54 cases of suspension, 41 cases of corporal punishment and 22 cases of enrollment in an alternative school.

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