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Corpun file 20296 at www.corpun.com
Howard County Times, Columbia, Maryland, 5 June 2008
Teacher tells 'Dr. Phil' corporal punishment works
By Lane Page
What's a nice Howard County-educated girl like Keila Foster doing on the "Dr. Phil" show advocating, of all things, corporal punishment in public schools?
Yet there she was for all to see and hear on the program, "Spanking Scandals," aired during May Sweeps month, yet.
A graduate of Howard High ('01), Howard University ('05) and the University of Mississippi with an master's in education ('07) -- no mean academic credentials, those -- Foster says she didn't even know the term "corporal punishment" until being assigned to 450-student North Panola High School in Sardis, Miss., in 2005 as part of her Mississippi Teacher Corps obligation to teach two years in a needy area.
In the Delta region the math teacher found that disciplinary paddling was school policy.
Foster called home to discuss the practice with her Mississippi-born dad, Sam, according to her blog. He verified that it was an accepted part of both upbringing and public school experience there in his day. It still is, he added.
It was that blog, which she was required by MTC to write, through which Dr. Phil's researchers found her for the show. In it, the former Jessup resident describes her own childhood as daughter of Southern-born parents: "Growing up, if I misbehaved, talked back or 'didn't mind' my parents, there was one warning and then the next thing coming was a butt whopping."
Then, as she did on the television show, she explains her acceptance of corporal punishment as a cultural norm for the community in which she was then teaching:
"After contacting my Teacher Corps mentor and finding out the history behind it and the fact that many people in the community still believe in it, I had no problem accepting it. I am an outsider (non-Mississippian) coming into a community I am not from, so who am I to say that their method of discipline does not work."
The school district is racially mixed, she notes, and "all races get paddled." Although "at the beginning it was hard, and I was scared," she used the method at least two or three times a week "if the principal was busy and could not do it then he would give me permission."
When asked by Dr. Phil himself, Foster explained her position that "today's kids need immediate consequences for disruptive behavior," the primary goal of those three licks with a wooden paddle (in front of a witness, but outside the classroom).
"Many children come to school with a lack of discipline at home," she continued. "Anyone who is critical of paddling needs to walk a day in a teacher's shoes."
And indeed Foster was the only one on the TV show, and maybe even in the audience too, representing that point of view. But that didn't faze her.
"I'm good at relating to different types of worlds, so I didn't feel outnumbered," she says. In fact, she'd love to appear there again.
Everyone remained civil both on the show and in the question-and-answer session after the actual taping, which took place last February.
As Foster explained to an audience member asserting that she could deal with disciplinary problems at home and hadn't had to resort to such measures, it's very different when "the father is in jail or not around, the mother works eight to 10 hours a day" and can't come to the phone, let alone get to the school when problems arise.
"She may just say, 'do whatever you have to do to keep them right. That would help me out.' "
The alternative to paddling is out-of-school suspension, which comes with its own set of problems. And according to Foster's experience, paddling, or the prospect of it, does help keep the children under control.
Mississippi is part of the Bible Belt, where "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is an accepted maxim, Foster added during the question-and-answer period, acknowledging that she never saw paddling of the severity described in one of the cases presented on the show.
Which, by the way, was the quintessential Hollywood experience, with limo rides, hair, makeup and wardrobe (she wore her own clothes, but they were professionally prepped for the occasion). And while "pleasant and business-like" Dr. Phil may not be a medical doctor, he was very concerned about the bronchitis she was developing during the taping and which sent her to the emergency room when she got back home. Must have been that L.A. smog.
While she foresees returning to this area in about five years, Foster is currently teaching in Memphis, Tenn., where there is no corporal-punishment policy. She doesn't mind saying that maybe there should be.
Corpun file 20291 at www.corpun.com
Lincoln Journal, Georgia, 12 June 2008
Dear Hearts and Gentle People
By Mickie McGee
If I didn't think our country had gone to the dogs before, I'm leaning that way now. Did any of you happen to see the video of the eight year old boy on Dr. Phil's show who slapped his mother in the face? I kid you not. He slapped her in the face!!
Seems Dr. Phil had the mother and the son sit in chairs facing one another in order to "discuss" some differences of opinions they were having. Well, I tuned in just as this eight year old tub of lard was whining at his mother because he had "accidentally" hit her and she elbowed him back. (I am not making this up.) He was enraged that she would do such a thing and was all red in the face, pointing his finger at her, yelling and interrupting her when she tried to speak.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. This kid grits his teeth, then when his mother tries to speak, screams at her to "Shut up!" Cold chills went up my spine, partly because of sheer unbelief and partly because of a flashback of the time I simply rolled my eyes at my mother and consequently couldn't sit down for a week.
The horror show continued. The mother, who had to be the biggest wuss on the planet, sat there, her eyes bugged out staring at this little demon as he spewed out his venom. "Shut up and listen to me!" he yells at her. "I'm trying to speak! You let me talk!."
She makes an attempt to speak..."Listen, you say I am not the boss of you..."
He interrupts, "No, you listen! I accidentally touched you with my elbow and then you went 'Wham' and hit me with your elbow. You actually left a mark on my arm and it stayed there for about twenty minutes!"
I'm thinking, if this kid were mine and he talked to me like that he'd be lucky to have an arm left, or a leg. And his head wouldn't be sitting on straight either. I'm telling you, dear hearts, I've never seen anything like it. This mother tried again. "You say I'm not the boss of you (she's really not a good conversationalist) but I am the boss of you." The kid pokes his lips out and folds his arms across his chest.
"Your teachers are the boss of you, too," she said meekly.
Then the little hellion starts again, "Shut up I said! Listen to me!"; then he leans over, flings his arm in a full arc and open-palmed, smacks her right across the cheek!!
Do you understand what I just said? This eight year old boy coldcocked his own mother on national television.
"There! How does that feel?" he shouted. "Huh? Huh? How does that make you feel?"
Dear Hearts, if I could have gone through the television that kid would have been a grease spot on the floor before he could have said "Two Big Macs with cheese."
And do you know what the mother's response to the slap was? Very slowly and quietly (again, I'm not making this up) she says, "Do...not...put...your...hands...on..me. Do you understand me?"
"Shut up! Do you understand ME?" yells the kid at the top of his lungs. "It's the only way I can get your attention!"
Okay, a few questions. Where was Dr. Phil when all this was happening and did they actually think Dr. Phil could be of help to this family? Had they exhausted all means of psychiatric assistance beforehand? Where was the father who spawned this child? Where is the child now? I would hope that if anybody within 50 feet of this debacle had a brain, then he is in some sort of Youth Detention Center getting some major counseling and, for his own good and the good of society, his butt tanned.
We wonder what has happened to our public schools. Why have the students gone wild? Why are so many students out of control? Why are we not allowed to discipline them anymore?
It's because parents like this dimwitted, gutless mother allow their children leeway they would never have had thirty years ago. Our teachers are no longer in charge of the classroom in many cases. Now a parent has the right to sign a form stating that his/her child may not be paddled at school. Sadly, the students on that list are invariably the worst behaved kids in the classroom so what are teachers to do?
To their credit, some parents hold fast to the notion that the teacher, as the adult, is still the disciplinarian and uphold any correction the teacher deems necessary to keep students in check. In other words...they feel like a lot of old-timers who say, "You get a spanking at school, young man, you'll get another one when you get home!" Bully for those parents.
And don't come crying to me with "Aw, you don't understand. That teacher physically abuses her students; she's not doing that to mine."
Listen friend, if there are teachers out there who physically abuse students who misbehave (and I seriously doubt it) then fire them. How difficult is that? Why throw out the whole barrel because of one bad apple? If a student insists on disrupting the classroom, for goodness sake, allow the teacher to discipline him. If we don't, we'll continue to reap a harvest of teenagers and adults who have no respect for human life or private property.
And for the record, it is ridiculous to equate a child who has been swatted on the butt with one who has been stomped, scalded, or punched. Dr. Diana Baumrind, a psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, followed 164 middle-class families from the time their children were in preschool until they reached their twenties.
She found that most used some form of corporal punishment. She further found that, contrary to what we've been told for years, giving a child a spanking (defined as openhanded swats on the backside, arms, or legs) does not leave the child scarred for life. The central tenet of family life, as it is in the classroom, has to be: adults in charge.
Ultimately, it probably doesn't matter whether the tenet is enforced by spanking or other corrective measures, so long as it is enforced. As a society we seem to have forgotten that the family (or the school) is not a democracy...it is a benign dictatorship. Is it any wonder many of our children are brats?
Maybe it's not so much, to spank or not to spank, but just: "Who's in charge here?"
Oh, I understand that some of you dear hearts think it's abuse to give a child a good swat on the behind. Fine, it's a free country. Think what you will.
I, however, after seeing the video of the 8-year-old loose cannon who slapped his mother, am convinced it's abuse when you don't.
Happy Fathers Day.
Corpun file 20309 at www.corpun.com
The Potpourri, Tomball, Texas, 17 June 2008
Trustees consider going electronic with handbook
By Tana Ross
Proposed changes to local school policies have Magnolia Independent School District Board of Trustees thinking over paperless student manuals and changes to corporal punishment rules.
MISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Todd Stephens presented the Board with recommended changes at its regular meeting, Monday, June 9.
Changes which may affect students and their parents are as follows:
Corporal punishment - Current state and local policy holds that corporal punishment -- spanking or paddling the student -- may be used as a discipline management technique in the district. A policy change allowing the principal to designate another administrator or teacher of the same sex as the student, if desired, is proposed. MISD's Student Code of Conduct and policy requires that corporal punishment may not be used without a call to a parent for approval. One MISD principal said he has not used corporal punishment since 1983, when he was working in another district. Other area districts that have corporal punishment include: Conroe ISD, Montgomery ISD and Tomball ISD. Waller ISD prohibits use of corporal punishment.
© Houston Community Newspapers Online 2008
Corpun file 24565 at www.corpun.com
Education Week (The School Law Blog), 17 June 2008
The Supreme Court and Corporal Punishment
By Mark Walsh
Four years ago on Wednesday, Jessica Serafin was paddled by her San Antonio charter school principal for breaking a school rule.
Serafin was just a few days past her 18th birthday, making her an adult, and she says in court papers she did not consent to being struck three times by a wooden paddle called "Ole Thunder" after she went off campus to buy breakfast. She sued the school, but has lost so far.
Corporal punishment in schools remains legal in 22 states, according to court papers filed on behalf of the charter school, the School of Excellence in Education.
On Thursday, in a private conference, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to revisit the legal issues surrounding corporal punishment in schools for the first time in more than 30 years. The court could announce as soon as June 23 whether it will hear the former student's appeal in Serafin v. School of Excellence in Education (Case No. 07-9760).
The case hasn't attracted much notice, partly because it is on the Supreme Court's pauper's docket.
Serafin says in court papers that when principal Brett Wilkinson sought to paddle her on that day in June 2004, she asked to withdraw herself from the school instead. Her request was refused, and two school employees helped restrain Serafin while the principal began paddling her. After the first strike, Serafin freed one of her hands, which was struck by the paddle. The principal allegedly told her, "That hit didn't count," and he struck her again, according to the former student's account. Serafin called her mother and left the school after the paddling, which left her buttocks bleeding and her hand swollen, according to court papers. She was treated at a hospital emergency room.
The school filed a response to Serafin's appeal only after the Supreme Court requested one, which is a sign that at least one of the justices is looking at the appeal with interest.
The school points out in its papers that when Serafin enrolled in the school, she was a minor and her guardian signed standard school forms that included one authorizing school officials to use corporal punishment. The court papers say Serafin had been paddled before, and that despite having turned 18, the student knew she was subject to the school's discipline as long as she was enrolled. The school's court papers also say that Serafin's injuries were "minor and temporary," and her hand would not have been hurt if she had not tried to block the paddle.
Serafin's lawsuit cited several state and federal claims, including assault and battery, negligence, false imprisonment, and violations of her 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection of the law. A U.S. district court dismissed her federal claims. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled against Serafin in October 2007.
In a unanimous decision by the three-judge panel, the appeals court said it was well settled in the 5th Circuit that "corporal punishment of public school students is only a deprivation of substantive due process rights when it is arbitrary, capricious, or wholly unrelated to the legitimate state goal of maintaining an atmosphere conducive to learning."
In her appeal to the Supreme Court, Serafin presents two questions. First, she asks whether an adult student has a greater right than a child to be free from corporal punishment. And second, she asks if the time come for the justices to decide whether students of any age have "substantive due process" rights when a public school applies excessive corporal punishment.
The appeal does not question the overall legality of corporal punishment in schools, but it contends that students should have stronger protection of the type known as substantive due process, which protects against arbitrary and unreasonable governmental conduct affecting fundamental constitutional liberties.
In its 1977 ruling in Ingraham v. Wright, the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments did not apply to corporal punishment in schools, and that the 14th Amendment's due-process clause did not require notice and a hearing before imposing such punishment. The court said state common-law remedies satisfied the procedural due-process requirement, and it declined to consider substantive due-process concerns over corporal punishment.
"We are reviewing here a legislative judgment, rooted in history and reaffirmed in the laws of many States, that corporal punishment serves important educational interests," the late Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. said for the majority in Ingraham.
Mark Walsh is a contributing writer to Education Week. He has covered legal issues in education for more than two decades. He writes about school-related cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and in lower courts.
Corpun file 24564 at www.corpun.com
Education Week (The School Law Blog), 23 June 2008
Supreme Court Declines Appeals on Corporal Punishment, Teacher Test, and Special Education
By Mark Walsh
The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear the appeal of a former high school student who filed a constitutional challenge to being paddled in a public school.
The case was one of three school cases the justices declined to hear as its 2007-08 term winds down. The court also declined to step into a long-running lawsuit challenging the impact of New York state's teacher test on minority teachers in the New York City school system. And it refused to hear the appeal of a special education case from Wisconsin.
In the corporal-punishment appeal, Serafin v. School of Excellence in Education (Case No. 07-9760), the justices declined without comment to hear the case of Jessica Serafin, who was an 18-year-old high school senior when she alleges she was paddled by her school principal for a minor infraction of school rules -- leaving the campus of her San Antonio charter school to buy breakfast.
Serafin says in court papers that when principal Brett Wilkinson sought to paddle her in June 2004, she asked to withdraw herself from the school instead. Her request was refused, and two school employees helped restrain Serafin while the principal began paddling her. After the first strike, Serafin freed one of her hands, which was struck by the paddle. The principal allegedly told her, "That hit didn't count," and he struck her again, according to the former student's account. Serafin called her mother and left the school after the paddling, which left her buttocks bleeding and her hand swollen, according to court papers. She was treated at a hospital emergency room.
The school said in its court papers that when Serafin enrolled in the school, she was a minor and her guardian signed standard school forms that included one authorizing school officials to use corporal punishment. The court papers say Serafin had been paddled before, and that despite having turned 18, the student knew she was subject to the school's discipline as long as she was enrolled. The school's court papers also say that Serafin's injuries were "minor and temporary," and her hand would not have been hurt if she had not tried to block the paddle.
In her appeal to the Supreme Court, Serafin asked whether an adult student has a greater right than a child to be free from corporal punishment. Also, she asked whether the time had come for the justices to decide whether students of any age have "substantive due process" rights when a public school applies excessive corporal punishment.
The concept of substantive due process under the 14th Amendment protects against arbitrary and unreasonable governmental conduct affecting fundamental constitutional liberties. The Supreme Court left open the question of whether substantive due process rights are implicated when it last addressed the legal issues surrounding corporal punishment, in the 1977 case of Ingraham v. Wright.
That question will remain unsettled for now.
Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas, 24 June 2008
School board backs action
By Bob Belcher
The Corsicana Independent School District Board of Trustees upheld the actions of school administrators in an April 2008 disciplinary action involving corporal punishment on a student for a first-time violation of the district's dress code.
In their action, however, trustees also told administrators that alternative disciplinary actions -- other than corporal punishment and suspension -- need to be studied by a committee of school personnel and parents for future dress code violations.
A grievance filed by Joel Starling, parent of three children in the Corsicana Independent School District, prompted Monday's action by the school board. A dress code violation by his daughter and her subsequent punishment was the reason for Starling's complaint.
In addressing trustees in an open session he requested, Starling claimed the district's policy on dress code violations was a change from the Student Code of Conduct approved by trustees, and that the change had not been communicated to parents. He maintained that the district had possibly violated state law by failing to provide notification.
When questioned by school board member Leah Dill Blackard, CHS principal Dr. Keith Moore said numerous announcements over the last several months had been made to students regarding violations of the dress code, and the consequences of the policy.
"I'm very confident our students knew," Moore said, adding he had told students during the announcements "I do not want you to be in trouble."
Starling's daughter was given the choice of suspension or corporal punishment for what Starling termed an "accidental" violation of the policy. He said they chose corporal punishment as "the lesser of two evils," so his daughter would not miss classes.
After a unanimous vote to uphold administrator's actions, trustee Kerri Anderson Donica said she felt corporal punishment was "inappropriate for this age group ... I don't think it's effective."
Long-time board member Dr. Kent Rogers concurred with Donica's request to look into alternatives for dress code violations.
"It is important that we support the dress code," Rogers said, adding "it will be well worth the time investigating alternative punishments."
The grievance discussed in open session was one of two complaints lodged by Starling. He addressed trustees in closed session on the second complaint. Trustees also voted to uphold the administration's actions in the second complaint, but did not disclose the contents of the complaint heard behind closed doors.
During a public comment time prior to the votes, Col. Bob Frisby, Starling's father-in-law, spoke to trustees voicing his concerns about corporal punishment in the district.
Frisby said the corporal punishment handed down "certainly did not fit the crime, and is a sick way of dealing with problems."
Frisby said in his entire military career he had not seen a single instance of corporal punishment. He said the responses from school administrators in his conversations with him were "terse."
Terry Seth, board president, said he felt the administration "did what they had to do to uphold the dress code."
Later in Monday's meeting, trustees approved a new Student Code of Conduct document that listed dress code violations as a "minor behavior violation" and listed the consequences of the misconduct as "conferencing with students, counseling with students, parental conference or written notice to parents, loss of school privileges, in-school suspension, detention or other reasonable consequences the administration deems appropriate."
Corporal punishment is listed as a possible consequence should dress code violations become "persistent or flagrant, and previous management techniques do not correct the misconduct."
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Corpun file 20348 at www.corpun.com
Mansfield News Journal, Ohio, 25 June 2008
Paddles would solve the problem
I am writing about student discipline problems in Mansfield City Schools. The committee looking into the discipline problems needs to look no further. I have a solution.
All the school district needs to do is reintroduce paddling, aka, corporal punishment. For those that do not know what this is, it is when a teacher takes a student that misbehaves out into the hallway and swats them hard on the bottom with a wooden board a few times in the presence of another teacher.
Yes, I know child protective services would have a problem with this, but they are the reason why these kids are so out of control. They don't want anyone spanking kids because they consider it abuse. The problem really is that child protective services do not know the difference between discipline and abuse.
Abuse causes cuts, bruises, etc., and sometimes death. Discipline, on the other hand, such as spanking or paddling may turn a child's bottom red for a few minutes, but it works in getting the point across because kids do not listen and sometimes you have to resort to this.
If a child is not disciplined, they are in reality getting spoiled. Proverbs 13:24 says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." Proverbs 23:13 says, "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die."
I grew up in a school district that allowed corporal punishment and most of us turned out to be good citizens. I believe that if the schools reintroduce school paddling that there would be fewer problems.
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