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School CP - December 1982

Corpun file 4542 at


The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 13 December 1982

Spanking probe meeting slated

By Diane Hust

School officials were planning to meet this afternoon with the attorney representing a 12-year-old Capitol Hill Middle School student who was allegedly bruised by a paddling.

Lawyer Steven Novick said he planned to discuss a school investigation report on the matter with Vern Moore, director of Oklahoma City's middle schools.

Brenda Shepherd contends her son, Tommy Merritt, was bruised on the leg by a spanking he received for talking in class.

Meanwhile, one of the district's teachers' groups announced Friday it will ask the Oklahoma City school board to drop subscriptions to the Daily Oklahoman and Times because of "front-page coverage of a minor and unsubstantiated accusation against a teacher."

Dave Renfro, president of the Oklahoma City Federation of Teachers, said he has represented accused teacher Mason Guy Jr. against the complaint he bruised Tommy by giving him two swats with a wooden paddle.

"Every witness and every bit of evidence pointed to the fact that (Guy) is completely innocent of bruising the child," Renfro said. "Aside from what we consider false accusation, the (teachers' federation) is very upset that these unsubstantiated charges be given front-page coverage, thus endangering the good name and reputation of a respected teacher."

Guy received a Presidential citation a few years ago for pulling two children from a burning house that neighbored the school, Renfro said.

"That story was buried, too. This man is a good person and a respected teacher, and this investigation will show he is not guilty of child abuse. Yet he is subjected to this kind of publicity," Renfro said.

Schools officials have said earlier that the boy's 6 to 8-inch bruise could have been caused by a fight Tommy had with another student Dec. 2, the day before the paddling.

But Novick said Friday "several troublesome things" are in the school officials' report on the spanking.

"I'm concerned about the findings of the report," he said " . . . I didn't want to discuss it until the facts are straightened out."


St Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri, 15 December 1982

Teachers Union Head Urges Restoration Of Spankings

By Robert L. Koenig

The adage "spare the rod and spoil the child" took on new significance Tuesday night as the St Louis School Board was asked to reinstitute corporal punishment in public schools.

One year after the School Board banned corporal punishment, Evelyn Battle White, President of St Louis Teachers Union Local 428, is asking for its return.

"There is a systemwide student disrespect for teachers and other supervisors," Mrs White stated in a letter she read to board members. "There are unbelievable problems in discipline, with you providing but one administrative support of sending students home through suspensions and expulsions. In the past, many of these situations were remedied through the 'threat' of corporal punishment."

Although board members listened patiently to Mrs White's appeal to "act on this tonight," there was no move to bring back the rattan sticks that used to be standard issue in the schools.

In November 1981, the board had abolished a regulation that allowed corporal punishment "in extreme circumstances... when all other methods to control disruptive behavior had failed." That regulation stated that "a rattan could be applied to the buttocks" of offending pupils "by the school principal in the presence of a witness."

Mrs White said Local 420 had objected to the board's abolishment of corporal punishment because "there would be a breakdown in discipline throughout the school system".

blob Previous: 12 November 1981 - Corporal Punishment Eliminated

Corpun file 25625 at

The Milwaukee Journal, Wisconsin, 16 December 1982, pp. 1, 15

Teacher administers 'board of education'

By Kevin Merida
of The Journal Staff

Teacher with paddle

Carl Evans tries to intimidate his students at Walker Middle School because "that's what they need," he says.

Yet, his students speak favorably of him.

Misbehave in his art classes and you have four choices:

Clean his room after school.

Go to an assistant principal's office for discipline.

Accept punishment through a handwriting exercise.

Step outside the classroom and face his "board of education."

The board is not an administrative body but a wooden paddle 23 inches long, five-eighths of an inch thick. Evans lays it on the rear end of a student one time -- "hard enough for him to feel it but not hard enough to hurt him." Few students choose that alternative.

Click to enlarge

The paddle has the signatures of the 17 brave souls who have faced up to it this school year. They include four students who insisted on talking about each other's mother in class, a student who asked to be hit so that he wouldn't have to do any work and a student who spoke out of turn.

Evans said he did not like to use the paddle on girls. He prefers to let the girls hit each other.

The paddle Evans uses now is a new one. Students hid the original one, and it had to be replaced in a rush. The old paddle bore the signatures of about 50 students, Evans estimated.

In bold black letters, the new board bears the Evans classroom motto: "We are here to learn, not to play."

What Evans does is not legal, according to Robert Tesch, a spokesman for the Milwaukee Public School system. And Walker Principal Wayne Brzezinski said he did not know Evans was using the paddle and he opposed it.

Milwaukee school system guidelines on discipline state: "Physical force may not be used by school personnel as punishment against pupils for any breach of discipline."

Evans' response?

"They say force can't be used, but they don't say what kind of force. It's ambiguous. My thing is I don't hit kids, they hit themselves. And if parents have anything to say about it they can come and see me."

Few parents apparently have done so. Those who have come to see him, according to Evans, have been satisfied after learning that the paddle was their child's choice of discipline.

Click to enlarge

There is an interesting story about the development of the Carl Evans brand of corporal punishment.

The way Evans tells it, a parent walked into his class four years ago, saw 40 kids "going bananas" and offered Evans a paddle to cope with the frisky youths, including the parent's own son.

So Evans, 34, began to use it, but only if the student chose that alternative.

"It's all a psychological ploy for control," he said.

Students strike back

Through the years Evans has refined the ploy. He now begins each school year by pointing to the paddle, which hangs on a nail near the blackboard. He smacks it against his leg.

"The whole thing is sound. It's the sound effects that get them," he says.

Then he climbs atop a long counter in the classroom and just walks back and forth, looking down at his students.

This year his students struck back. They hid the original paddle, and Evans had to make another of wood from a shop class.

The new paddle has proved to be just as effective.

Said one student who has not faced it yet:

"When he hits you it sounds like you're playing baseball. When I first heard that thing, I said, 'That's a fly ball.'"

Twelve-year-old Andrew, who took his whack Tuesday, said it hurt, that he deserved it and that he took it because he didn't want a repetitious handwriting punishment.

Above all, Evans said, the paddle has served as an effective deterrent that lets students know that he takes his art and his education seriously.

Click to enlarge

"I hit one kid on a Monday and he gave me a Christmas card on a Tuesday," Evans said.

Evans certainly is a rarity among teachers because he gives students their choice of discipline, and because he offers an outdated brand of corporal punishment.

But Evans also is a rarity because he keeps a mental file of the personal problems students are grappling with. After 10 years of teaching in the Milwaukee school system. Evans can recall clearly the kids who committed suicide, kids who were victims of incest, kids who were beat up for faulty drug deals - all of them kids he has tried to help.

Off the top of his head, he rattled off other startling, but sad, examples of behavior at the middle school level:

The kid who snipped off his finger-tips with metal clippers so that he could get a long excused absence from school.

The boy who forced a female classmate to the ground, kissed her and was suspended -- all so he wouldn't have to take a test inn which he knew he would do poorly.

By several accounts, Evans is successful. And he allows students to talk freely and openly in class about any topic, as long as work is done.

Perhaps the kids respect him because they know their grades are based not on artistic ability, but on effort and following instructions.

"I tell them you don't have to be good to get a good grade because artists don't have to be good to make a lot of money."

Perhaps the kids respect him for of his matter-of-fact demeanor.

"I intimidate the kids, but only in fun. I yell a lot, look mean and find that a lot of the kids like me a lot for it."

Perhaps the kids like him because he shows concern about their personal problems.

"You see so many kids you try to help and you can't do anything about because you find that the damage has already been done. They're all great kids. There's no such thing as a bad kid. It's too bad some of them won't make it. That's the only shame."

Corpun file 4424 at


The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 19 December 1982

To Spank or Not to Spank, That Is the Question

By Diane Hust

It is against the law for a prison guard to physically punish an inmate.

Mental institutions have strict rules forbidding staff members to physically punish a resident.

It is not against the law for a teacher to physically punish a child.

Sharron Masterson of Oklahoma City thinks students should have at least the same rights as criminals. To that end, she is organizing a statewide group whose aim will be the abolition of corporal punishment in Oklahoma's schools.

But many educators maintain that corporal punishment usually in the form of spanking is only one discipline option, and one that it is not abused by the schools. It is, they say, used only as a last resort and only on students that they think it might help.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that parents have no constitutional right to prevent their child from being spanked at school.

So, the debate pits those on opposite end of the punishment issue against one another: parent vs. school, student vs. school, parent vs. child and even, educator vs. educator.

"I feel such punishment is inappropriate," Masterson said.

"I don't see physical punishment as viable. It fulfills only short-term goals. You should want discipline to be for long-term goals."

Masterson, a parent, admits she has spanked her own children.

"But I know why I do it. It was because I was temporarily frustrated: I do it out of anger. But that doesn't accomplish what I want to teach my children."

She agrees that discipline is a problem in the schools. But Masterson said thinks "parents must and should take a more active part in the discipline of their child."

Yet the question of just who is the "parent" while the child in school and what rights that parent has differ depending on who is asked.

Oklahoma law gives teachers the right to act as the child's parent during the school day, which Karen Ponder says gives teachers the right to discipline a child, including spanking. Ponder is the president of the Oklahoma City United Teaching Profession, a teachers' union.

Masterson is not so sure.

Contrary to popular opinion, she said, spankings are administered inconsistently and usually to "good children."

"I've had calls about honor students getting spankings. I've had calls about getting spankings for tossing a cracker across a room."

Teacher representatives counter, saying corporal punishment in Oklahoma City is rarely used and never abusive.

"By and large, in Oklahoma City and other school districts, discipline is effectively and humanely being administered," said Dave Renfro, president of the Oklahoma City Federation of Teachers.

Ponder said many teachers have stopped paddling children for fear situations like Guy's arising. "When a child is punished, the teacher is punished also, in a certain sense, such as when a parent complains, or there is lack of administrative support."

"I don't think parents have the right to tell teachers what to teach or how to teach, but they do have the right to know what goes on in the classroom," Ponder said.

However, she supports parents' rights to forbid spanking of the child at school. She also applauds the district's policy that requires the district attempt to contact parents if their child is to be spanked.

However, Ponder thinks most patrons support schools using corporal punishment as long as it's on somebody else's child.

"I think corporal punishment is used only as a last resort," Ponder said. "Teachers try all different forms of discipline before spanking kids ... because usually, it isn't worth the hassle."

The hassle to which Ponder refers is a detailed procedure teachers and administrators must follow in meting out discipline.

Actual board policy is much more specific, but Oklahoma City students are given handbooks spelling out those policies. Some leeway for interpretation is given.

For example, middle school students do not have the right to refuse corporal punishment, said Vern Moore, director of middle schools. However, their parents do have the right to forbid the spanking of their child.

But at the high school level, a student may refuse to be spanked and choose another form of punishment, said Betty Mason-Goodwin, director of high schools. If a student chooses to be paddled, administrators must make an attempt to call the parents.

The policy also calls for corporal punishment to be "reasonable" and to not "cause bodily injury."

Mason-Goodwin said the "reasonable" stipulation refers to having the swats match the crime.

"For instance, giving 20 swats is not reasonable, because if the student has done something that bad, a spanking is not going to help," she said.

Also, several swats for a minor infraction, such as tardiness, would also be considered unreasonable, Mason-Goodwin said.

"Students who do a lot of infractions are not the youngsters who get corporal punishment," she said. "The youngsters who are slipping a little in their behavior, and their parents feel a couple of swats would help, are the ones who are spanked.

"With the hard-core misbehavers, it's a waste of time to spank them," she said.

Administrators usually choose suspension or in-house detention as an effective way to discipline that type of student, she said.

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