Monday, April 19, 2010

Paddling in Texas Schools

Corporal punishment is back in the school system of Temple, Texas. This seems odd to many since the school district banned the practice before bringing it back in May, 2009, according to an article online by the Houston Chronicle. According to the assistant superintendent of administration, John Hancock, many of the parents who pushed for the change paddle their children at home and wanted consistent discipline in the classroom.


I thought this kind of treatment vanished long ago. I know Houston Independent School District doesn't use paddling. But, I read that neighboring Alvin Independent School District has this option in place, too. From a network affiliate in Houston, a piece online states that parents must sign off on the policy at the beginning of each school year. According to the article, the district refused the station permission to speak with a school principal who uses the policy. The reporter did, however, speak with a high school principal who doesn't utilize the option. He said that about five to ten times a year a parent requests he use the policy. "I think that's because they revert back to when they were in school, when it was more common."

According to the Alvin Independent School District's web site, there are 16,000 students in district schools. Twenty percent of the teachers hold an advanced degree. There are 2 high schools, 1 academic alternative school, 1 behavior alternative school, 5 junior high schools, and 13 elementary schools.

In an article from a local station in Portland, Oregon, the issue is framed as an age-old one. Paddling is seen as an effective form of discipline. Parents wanted the option reinstated because "they reportedly said they wanted their kids to know there are consequences for their behavior."

From Mother Jones, a quote from Temple's assistant superintendent of administration for schools, John Hancock, said "We're rural central Texas. We're very well educated, but still there are those core values. Churches are full on Sundays...this is a tool we'd like in the toolbox for responding to discipline issues."

So, whacking the bottom of a student with a wooden board - three times - is a 'core value'? And, it's ok for a non-parent to administer this punishment in the absence of a parent? Wouldn't it make more sense for the parent to do it if that is how he or she is raising the child? Shouldn't the parent be called to the school if the student is acting so abhorrently that he or she has to be paddled? Isn't physical punishment the last option? Also noted is the fact that the community banned the practice of paddling six years ago before it was revived.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy recently held a Congressional hearing on school paddling, according to the Mother Jones article. Let that sink in - a Congressional hearing on school paddling. Now she plans to introduce legislation to ban the practice by federal law. "When you look that the federal government has outlawed physical punishment in prisons, I think the time has come that we should do it in schools."

From the Houston Chronicle article, an estimated 225,000 students were spanked in schools in 2006. Nearly one-fourth of the paddled students were in Texas.

Temple's school board president, Steve Wright, said "Without it (paddling), there weren't any consequences for students." He claims the parents long for the schools of yesteryear.

Yesteryear? Today's students live in a different world than that in which their parents were raised. The cheapening of human respect has been achieved due to today's cultural influences. A teacher today, unfortunately, does not command the height of respect that was once true. Adults, in general, are not held in high esteem by many of today's youth. That is how it is. Parents are responsible for raising their own children - this includes teaching the basic difference between right and wrong. This includes the attitude that adults in school deserve respect from students. This includes putting into practice the motto, ''lead by example". If a parent is striking a child at home to discipline the child, the child grows up thinking physical actions are the way to settle a dispute.

Reasonable adults lead by example.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever taught in a secondary public school? Probably not, if you're against paddling. Try teaching for a week on your own and you will have a whole new perspective. The bottom line is that parents are not involved and they are NOT leading by example. There are parents, most likely like yourself, out there that do a good job raising their children. However, too many parents are not doing their job with consistent discipline at home.

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