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School CP - August 1995
Daily Telegraph, London, 3 August 1995
Teachers told not to spare the rodBy Charles Laurence
in New York
TEACHERS in Alabama, the state which has reintroduced the chain-gang for prisoners, have been told to administer old-fashioned whackings to restore discipline in the classroom.
The state has passed a law giving teachers "the authority and responsibility to use appropriate means of discipline up to and including corporal punishment."
The bill, promoted by Governor Fob James, also indemnifies teachers against being sued by pupils who are beaten, and exempts them from laws defining beating as child abuse.
Corporal punishment in school has remained legal and is practised in most Southern states, but has been in decline. In 27 states, mostly northern and including New York, it is banned.
It is commonly administered to both boys and girls with a "paddle", a flat, wooden instrument like a large cheeseboard, and three whacks to the buttocks is the usual punishment.
The new law is designed to encourage Alabama teachers to put aside liberal qualms and use their paddles.
"It's immediate, and it gets the punishment over with. Parents still use corporal punishment here; they're part of the old Bible Belt, where they believe in 'spare the rod, spoil the child'," said Jim Elliot, headmaster of the Thompson High School in Alabaster County.
A spokesman for the Alabama Board of Education said Mr James had introduced the law as part of his law-and-order campaign. He had feared that the threat of lawsuits against teachers was undermining their will to keep order.
He said the law would have contained a straightforward instruction to beat disruptive pupils but the state's powers are constitutionally limited, with each school district having the power to set its own disciplinary codes.
Latest figures from the Education Department in Washington, for 1992, list 555,330 beatings in American schools. Of those, 509,747 were carried out in the South, 38,132 in the Midwest, 5,236 in the West and 2,215 in the North-East.
Most take place in Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. A survey conducted by the Birmingham Post-Herald, Alabama's leading newspaper, found that more than 60 per cent of parents approved of the punishment policy.
It also found that beatings were most likely in rural areas, and that black pupils and those at schools for the disabled or emotionally disturbed were the most frequently beaten.
The Alabama legislation has met some protest. Letta Gorman of the state Parent-Teachers' Association said "the most vulnerable" children were beaten and the discipline could do more harm than good.
Newsday, Long Island, NY, 6 August 1995
Don't Spare the Rod
I was amazed when I read the "Asides" column of July 30 [Currents]. The opinion expressed by Alvin Bessent concerning the bill in Alabama that gives teachers immunity from lawsuits after paddling unruly children is a joke. His comment that perhaps Alabama should look to New York State, where corporal punishment is banned in schools, should have been placed in the comics section. Look at New York City schools, with their metal detectors, drugs, crime and weapons in the classrooms. They are certainly nothing to look up to as a model.
Alabama has the right idea. Perhaps if some of the children in New York got their behinds slapped, as we did when we were children, there would be no need for police and metal detectors in our schools today.
Donald W. Willis, Islip
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 28 August 1995
Notes, ideas, trends in national education
No pay for spankingCompiled by staff writer Reagan Walker
The Nashville school board has upheld the suspension of a teacher who was disciplined for spanking a boy who "mooned" his class.
The board upheld the suspension, without pay, of James Morris. He had spanked a 13-year-old student May 11 in the Carter-Lawrence Alternative Learning Center.
Morris said after the boy dropped his pants and showed his bare backside to his classmates, he took the youngster into a bathroom, took off his own belt and spanked the boy with it three times.
Corporal punishment is allowed in Nashville schools under certain circumstances, but Morris allegedly went beyond board policy by not paddling the student in the office, by using a belt instead of a paddle and by not punishing the youngster in the presence of administrators.
Copyright 1995, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.
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