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School CP - December 1989

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The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 5 December 1989

School Board Bans Corporal Punishment

By John Perry

The Oklahoma City school district became the first in the state to permanently retire the paddle Monday night, when board members voted to place an immediate ban on corporal punishment.

School superintendent Arthur Steller said the ban on spankings will become effective as soon as the new policy can be distributed to principals "in a week or so."

Board members voted 5-2 to approve the ban. Member Leo Hise and board president Betty Hills cast the two dissenting votes.

The new policy states: "The board recognizes that corporal punishment is not an effective educational tool and its use shall not be permitted in any district school."

Board member Thelma R. Parks said she was glad the issue was finally coming before the board for a vote.

"I don't think I have to remind this board that I've been opposed to corporal punishment from day one," Parks said.

Turning to Steller, Parks asked, "So all the pretty little paddles will disappear?"

"I didn't say that," Steller said. "I said they wouldn't be used."

One board member and a teachers union representative expressed concern that some teachers may lack training in discipline measures to replace paddling.

"I just don't believe our educators have had the necessary training," said Hise.

Ann Turner, president of the Oklahoma City Federation of Teachers, said after the meeting that teachers had received training several years ago in a technique called assertive discipline.

"But teachers hired after that time probably have not had that," Turner said.

Hise offered an amendment to the ban delaying its implementation until the beginning of the 1990-1991 school year next August. But the amendment died when no other board member seconded the motion.

A district task force on corporal punishment had recommended a ban on spankings beginning with the 1990-1991 school year.

The task force report stated that "corporal punishment and similar forms of negative reinforcement interferes with the development of a positive self-image which is essential to learning."

The report recommended that this school year be used as a transition period to develop alternatives to corporal punishment and to provide more training for staff members.

But Steller said no student in Oklahoma City schools has been paddled since the middle of September. The paddle has not been used at the high school level for at least two years, he said.

"That's not to say that we don't have discipline problems," Steller said before the meeting. "But we've come up with other ways to handle them."

Pilot programs at several middle schools and high schools were begun last month to test in-house suspension programs as an alternative to corporal punishment and as an alternative to sending students home.

In a report to the board at the beginning of Monday's meeting, Steller said by the end of this school year, the district should no longer be suspending students and sending them home.

Fran Morris, state coordinator for Oklahomans Opposed to Corporal Punishment, said this makes Oklahoma City schools the first in the state to permanently ban the paddle.

Morris said the Norman school district instituted a moratorium on spankings this year. She believes the school board there will make the ban permanent next year.


Corpun file 6253 at

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia, 24 December 1989

Permission to paddle: How do you feel about corporal punishment?

By Celia Sibley
Staff Writer

MORE THAN 90,000 students were paddled in Georgia schools last year, according to federal Department of Education estimates.

That figure is met with shrugs of indifference in some quarters and considered shocking in others. After state Rep. Dick Lane (D-East Point), chairman of the House School Discipline Committee, learned the facts about paddling, he set out to reduce the figure to zero.

Earlier this month, the study committee issued a report calling for the prohibition of corporal punishment in grades kindergarten through eighth. A bill to that effect will be introduced the first week of January when the Georgia General Assembly convenes.

Legislation will call for withholding state funds from school systems continuing to paddle students in those grades.

Mr. Lane admitted the bill faces an uphill battle, opposed by House Speaker Tom Murphy (D-Bremen) and Lt. Gov. Zell Miller.

"It is a controversial issue and you are not going to have a clear mandate one way or the other," said Karen Harper, president of the Gwinnett PTA Council.

In Gwinnett, corporal punishment is permitted. Each school is allowed to set its own policy on paddling, subject to system guidelines. Paddling apparently is infrequent in higher grades, where the students are as big as the paddlers, Mr. Lane noted.

Neither the school system nor the state Department of Education keeps records on the frequency of paddling.

The public's comments about paddling were aired at two hearings sponsored by the House committee. While 68 people testified, only one opposed the bill, Mr. Lane said.

"The fear of the teacher [to the bill] as I surmise it is, 'Don't leave us standing out here with nothing,'" Mr. Lane said last week.

As a result, the bill calls for several alternatives to paddling. Teachers would receive training in disciplinary techniques, and a statewide school discipline code would be presented to parents and students at the beginning of each school year.

Schools would have more counselors, school suspension and alternative school programs would be expanded, and the pupil-teacher ratio would be lowered, under the legislation.

Changing the state law that permits paddling is necessary, Mr. Lane said. "What we're doing is not working, apparently," he said. "We've still got the problem. It's the hard-core discipline problem that disrupts the classroom. With more counselors who can go into the homes, maybe it will at least mitigate the problem.

"What turned me around is we are sending out the wrong message. We are consciously or unconsciously teaching a child when you whip him that the way to get your way is through violence, and I don't think that is the message we want to send out."

What do you think?

There are several alternatives to use of corporal punishment.

"The evidence against corporal punishment is overwhelming. Studies have proven that corporal punishment, and the fear of corporal punishment, are barriers to learning. Other effects of corporal punishment include: Teaching children by example that the infliction of pain is the proper way to power; that adults have the right to use children's bodies as they please; the punishment does nothing toward modifying a child's behavior and inhibits teachers and administrators from devising more innovative types of discipline.

"Good classroom discipline is necessary for students' learning. Good discipline is maintained through a climate of order and respect. Corporal punishment is not necessary to maintain order in schools. Many good alternatives exist, such as the positive school discipline program at Gwinnett County's Knight Elementary School."

-Larry Wheeler, executive director
Georgia Council on Child Abuse

National, state PTAs are taking contradictory stands on issue

"I am personally opposed to corporal punishment. I was a teacher years ago and paddled one child. It stands out as a vivid memory and to this day I feel guilty about it because I realize that paddling him satisfied my own anger and was not designed to modify his behavior. "National PTA has taken a stand opposing corporal punishment and state PTA voted not to abolish corporal punishment. So their stands are contradictory."

-Karen Harper, president
Gwinnett PTA Council

Use of corporal punishment 'not a good tool' for education

"I think corporal punishment in the classroom is not a good tool to use in the educational process and therefore would prefer that teachers not resort to that particular kind of discipline.

"For good teachers, there is a wide variety of other disciplines. However, I recognize there are some exceptions and some extreme cases and in those cases there should be supervision from school principals and/or superintendents as to how any corporal punishment should be administered in those conditions."

-Sen. Donn Peevy

If a child is causing problems, teachers should contact parents

"I'm opposed to it. I think if a child is creating that serious a problem the administrators or teachers need to take it up directly with the parents before they get into a situation where they would be inflicting physical punishment on the child.

"I don't think they should be able to inflict any kind of physical punishment on a child. It's a parental duty to see that the child is behaving and if a teacher has a problem they need to work it out with the parents."

-Rep. Bill Goodwin, (R-Norcross)

Violence only begets violence; other effective methods exist

"I believe violence begets violence and there are other effective ways without having to resort to corporal punishment in schools."

-Eve Hoffman, president
Georgia Alliance for Public Education, former school board member

Paddling students is obviously the last resort for punishment

"Obviously, paddling is used as a form of discipline. If there is an alternative to paddling, then it ought to be used. And paddling is obviously always a punishment of last resort."

-Sen. Tom Phillips (R-Stone Mountain)

I could support some paddling if every other avenue exhausted

"I've got mixed feelings on it. I guess I believe only as a last resort after there have been a number of other remedies tried in order to solve the problem, after parental conferences. "I guess as a last resort I could support some form of paddling after every other avenue is exhausted." "I guess my own philosophy is hitting children only leads to children hitting."

-Louise Radloff
school board member

There are better ways to teach than using physical punishment

"I am not a proponent of corporal punishment. I think there are better ways to inspire a child to learn than to physically punish them into it.

"The child who is a real behavior problem and a disruption in the class should be removed from the class until he can be sociably re- entered. There are other methods of retraining him other than physical force."

-Tom Harris
school board chairman

Parents may cause problems by not taking any responsibility

"If their parents don't do it, I think school officials or somebody needs to because somebody needs to discipline them. That may be what's wrong with the situation now because parents are not taking care of their responsibilities in raising children."

-Cecil Gober
former school board member

Foes of corporal punishment should suggest other methods

"This is my personal opinion and not that of my organization. The issue of corporal punishment has three parts.

"The first part is if you are going to eliminate corporal punishment, in my personal opinion that should happen but only if it is replaced with some other method of discipline which is teacher-driven. "Right now there is no other substantial penalty that a teacher can use on a chronically disruptive student. The other methods that exist now, such as in-school suspension, are controlled by the administration.

"The second part is the effective issue. Is corporal punishment effective? There are mixed feelings on that. My personal opinion is it is not. It has a temporary effectiveness and has long-term negative results.

"And the third part is the method being contemplated to outlaw corporal punishment is not the way to go about getting rid of corporal punishment in this state. There are too many people that support corporal punishment in the state Legislature.

"It would be better for the opponents of corporal punishment to use their time, money, resources and efforts to develop workable alternatives to corporal punishment for the classroom teacher. " And it's my opinion that classroom teachers will use alternatives to corporal punishment if they are available."

-Peter Toggerson, staff member
Georgia Association of Educators

Few teachers paddle anymore, but the option should be there

"Gwinnett County Association of Educators as a group has not discussed it.

"I have not paddled a student in I don't remember how many years. The situations have not warranted it.

"But I think that option needs to stay in there. I don't know any teacher that paddles anymore. But I think the option should be available if the situation calls for it."

-Anita Cole, chairwoman
Gwinnett Association of Educators

Paddling is counterproductive, according to research on issue

"I gathered a lot of information on it, researched it, and 19 other states have abolished corporal punishment in the schools. And all the research shows that it is ineffective, inappropriate and counterproductive as a method of changing one's behavior.

"The more educators learn about the alternatives, the more supportive they are, and Georgia is working on implementing lower teacher/student ratios, counselors in elementary and middle schools, and more training in discipline for educators."

-Anne Hall, chairwoman
Georgians for Positive School Discipline

Copyright © 2000 The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution

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