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School CP - February 1989

Corpun file 7017


The Houston Chronicle, Texas, 16 February 1989

Senate panel urged to curtail spanking in Texas schools

By R.G. Ratcliffe and Mark Toohey
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau Staff

AUSTIN - Less than two weeks after a Houston principal was charged with beating an emotionally disturbed student, citizen groups asked a state Senate committee Wednesday to restrict corporal punishment in the state's public schools.

"There is nothing good about corporal punishment. It is a form of child abuse," said Jimmy Dunne, a former Houston math teacher and current president of People Opposed to Paddling.

Dunne reminded the Senate Education Committee that a Crawford Elementary School principal in Houston recently was charged with beating a special education student, prompting a review of the Houston Independent School District corporal punishment policy.

Dunne, who appeared before the committee carrying a large wooden paddle, spoke in favor of a bill by Sen. Craig Washington, D-Houston, to limit corporal punishment to cases where parents have given prior consent.

"I think the parents ought to have to consciously say, `Do I want Johnny hit, spanked or slapped at school?"' Washington said. "And I think most parents are going to say no."

Washington originally wanted a bill that would prohibit teachers from striking students for any reason other than to break up a fight, protect themselves or take a weapon from a student.

But he said he changed his legislation to include parental consent to gain support from teacher organizations.

"I've been persuaded that the people who beat their kids at home will have no problem with their kids being beaten at school," Washington said.

Also testifying in support of the bill were representatives of the Texas Conference of Churches, the Texas Commission for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the Texas Children's Rights Coalition.

"The use of corporal punishment teaches children that violence is a legitimate way to deal with anger and a legitimate way to call forth obedience from others," said Vicki Szukalla of the conference of churches.

Meanwhile, educators pressed their own legislative agenda Wednesday as the Texas State Teachers Association tossed its support behind a proposed bill that would let teachers retire early and improve their pension benefits.

The bill by Sen. Hugh Parmer, D-Fort Worth, would provide retirement options without benefits loss to teachers whose age and years of service total 85. Existing law provides those options when age and years of experience reach 95.

"An adequate pension system that offers relatively early retirement options with full benefits could be a major consideration when people are making career decisions," said Charles Beard, president of the Texas State Teachers Association. "This bill will allow education to be a little more competitive with other professions in trying to attract and retain a quality work force."

Parmer said his legislation would work as an incentive to keep middle-aged teachers in the profession.

Corpun file 7015


The Houston Chronicle, Texas, 23 February 1989

Panel OKs bill regulating paddlings

By Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau Staff

AUSTIN - The Senate Education Committee Wednesday approved a bill that would prohibit public school officials from administering corporal punishment to students whose parents object to such discipline beforehand in writing.

The measure, which now goes to the full Senate, also would require each school at the end of the school year to report to its district's trustees the number of times a teacher or other employee "intentionally inflicted physical pain on a pupil for the purpose of punishment."

Several groups, including the Texas Conference of Churches and the Texas Commission for the Prevention of Child Abuse, asked the committee last week to restrict paddling and other forms of corporal punishment.

The panel was reminded that a Houston principal recently was charged with beating an emotionally disturbed student.

The measure approved by the committee was an amended version of a bill sponsored by Sen. Craig Washington, D-Houston, that would have prohibited corporal punishment outright.

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