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School CP - November 1994

Corpun file 0162 at

Metropolitan Times [African-American Weekly], Nashville, Tennessee, 8 November 1994

[Nashville - Afro-American perspective on school CP]

[Original headline missing]

by Annette Ansari

Statistics for the 1993-94 school year's use of corporal punishment are in. Scaling the 200 mark and outpacing every other school is Ewing Park Middle School. Of the 208 students paddled, 192 were black and 16 were white.

"The racial composition of the school is about 87 percent black and 13 percent white," said the school's principal Dr William Terrell. An approximate ratio of the faculty's racial composition is 70 percent white and 30 percent black, Terrell added.

Every other school in the system that uses corporal punishment had figures which were under 80 for each of the five races identified: American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, blacks and whites.

Last year the Metropolitan Times took an in-depth look at corporal punishment in Metro [Nashville area] schools. In a three-part series, opinions on the "paddle" were polarized. At that time public school educator Jim Turbeville, principal of W.E. Bass Middle School, said "It's still an ethic of black society". He added that "By and large, a larger percentage of black parents believe that corporal punishment is the way to go than do white parents at this time".

At the other end of the issue was clinical psychologist, Dr Raymond Winbush, who said that "Our culture teachers our children at very young ages to understand the instruments of violence".

Turbeville drew a correlation between the abandonment of corporal punishment in states where violent crime has increased. Oddly enough, the central office statistics indicate that there were no incidents of corporal punishment at Bass Middle School during the school year 1993-94.

Turbeville said it may have been possible that there were no incidents, but said he would look into it since he was not at the school most of the year. During that time he served as the Rotating Director in Administrative Services under Assistance Superintendent of Schools Dr Aldorothy Wright.

Since the beginning of the current 94-95 school year Turbeville said he has paddled six students so far. So, although the central office data indicates no incidents of paddling at Bass for 1993-94, the school has not abandoned the use of corporal punishment.

"There is a correlation between adult violence and childhood abuse," stated Winbush. "Most people involved in violent crime have been abused as children either physically, sexually and/or emotionally," he added.

Winbush said that the idea that corporal punishment is indigenous to African people and people of African descent is a myth. He has traveled to Africa and observed children in schools were corporal punishment was not used.

"We are starting to beat our kids at horrible rates and it is just not true that this is a cultural practice", Winbush said.

"The practice of beating children in the African-American community is indigenous to slavery and not to African culture", Winbush emphasized.

Winbush stated that violence in public schools is a function of probably three things: the continuing disintegration of the family, misguided desegregation policies, and an increase of drugs within the young population.

Corporal punishment data is required to be collected by each school and the data goes to the central office.

One school that had a written record of 12 students paddled was recorded on the central office report as having only 4 students paddled. The principal of the school said the number of all students paddled had been turned into the central office and could not explain the discrepancy.

The accuracy or honesty at either the reporting end or the collection end appears to be in question.

"It is possible to get a higher figure at the school and a lower figure on the computers at central office if they were not keyed into the computers at the schools," said Dr Richard Hooper of the Research and Evaluation office at Metro.

Section 49-6-4006 of the Tennessee Code Annotated states "When a code of discipline and behavior has been adopted by the governing body of a local educational agency, a copy of the applicable code shall be posted at each school under that governing body's jurisdiction as notice to the students, teachers and administrative staff of their duties and responsibilities".

The Metro "Student Conduct" guide does not mention corporal punishment. Some individual school handbooks advise the parents about corporal punishment and their right to let the school know if they object to it.

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