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Orlando Sentinel, Florida, 1 September 1985
Many Principals Not Ready To Relinquish 'Board'
By Carolyn Cox
Two weeks ago Minneola Elementary School Principal Jack Currie's views on student discipline were featured in this column. Currie refuses to paddle students. Instead, he uses positive reinforcement, counseling, isolation, detention, creative punishments and eventually suspension to correct bad behavior in students.
Since then, principals who do use corporal punishment were surveyed to present both sides of the controversy. A state child-care task force has recommended that paddling be banned from the school system, and the Florida Legislature, which so far has resisted efforts to get rid of "the board," is likely to take up the issue again next year.
Paddling, say a number of Lake County public school principals, has a place in the schools, but it should not be used as a primary form of punishment.
Although many agree with most of Jack Currie's philosophies and support his efforts, they say that a ban on paddling would reduce the number of options they have in imposing punishment. That could result in increased suspensions, which hurt students academically.
They also agree that paddling works with some students and does not work with others. For those that don't respond to paddling, other forms of punishment are tried. All of the principals surveyed condemned repeated paddlings, and all said a paddling never should be administered in anger, a reference to Currie's contention that paddling teaches students that hitting is an appropriate response to anger.
"I've got this big theory about education," Currie said. "Education is something we should be doing for the children instead of to the children. It's the same thing with corporal punishment."
None of the principals would argue with the first part of Currie's statement, but some take exception to the second part.
"I've never used it a great deal but I've always felt it has a place in the school," said Jim Polk, principal of Leesburg Junior High. "I think you've got to look at each individual child and determine what type of punishment works best. With some kids it emphasizes the importance or degree of wrongness of what they've done.
"It's immediate. It's quick. It's over with in a hurry. I think that's one of the reasons some administrators do it a great deal. It can be over within five minutes or less."
Copyright 2010 Orlando Sentinel
The Coloradoan, Fort Collins, 14 September 1985
School settles Estes Park spanking suit
An out-of-court settlement was reached Friday afternoon in the $1 million case filed against an Estes Park School district for the alleged wrongful paddling of two of its students.
A seven-day trial was scheduled to begin on Monday in Larimer County District Court, but that trial date was vacated after Judge John-David Sullivan received a call from one of the attorneys on Friday.
The million dollar judgment that was sought was filed on behalf of Shane Wooden and Mark Weaver, who claimed they suffered harmful and long-lasting physical and emotional effects because of paddling from Estes Park School Principal Steve Peterson in 1981.
William Kowalski, the attorney representing the school district, wouldn't disclose the terms of the settlement, but did way the agreement not only covered the trial scheduled for next week but also an appeal filed by Wooden's father on a similar issue in federal district court, he said.
The Houston Post, Texas, 24 September 1985
Texas tradition of paddling may deserve another look
By Henry T. Van Dyke
The wire services have carried embarrassing stories about corporal punishment in the Texas schools in recent years: Elementary students paddled because they failed to bring in their watercolors to an art class; third-grade students who were punished for wandering from their seats by having to write, "I will stay in my seat,' then had to spell the sentence while each letter was accompanied by a whack.
Texas - a state whose contributions to the nation in many areas have deservedly earned praise - debatably holds on to its position as the leading state in spanking in the schools. According to the latest available (1982) U.S. Elementary and Secondary Schools Civil Rights Survey, Texas reported 204,013 incidents of paddling during the academic year. Since the national total was about a million incidents, one in five reported spankings took place in this state.
Traditionally, corporal punishment is administered as a "last resort." This is supposedly true in Texas also. A 1981 "Voluntary Student Code of Conduct" issued by then-Attorney General Mark White directs that "corporal punishment shall be administered only after less stringent disciplinary measures have been attempted. Before corporal punishment is administered, the student shall be informed of the offense and be afforded an opportunity to explain his or her actions." However, in view of the above statistics, Texas either has many discipline problems, or its educators are very quick to reach "last resort."
Spanking is no longer a simple matter of hastily given whacks by the classroom teacher immediately following misbehavior (which is the only time when such punishment may be effective, as generations of parents have learned). There have been changes, based on the U.S. Supreme Court's recommendations in the Baker vs. Owen (1979) case. In 1981, Attorney General White advised local districts that corporal punishment in the schools shall be: (a) limited to spanking or paddling; (b) administered only by the school; (c) witnessed by at least one other district professional employee; (d) administered only with an instrument approved by the principal or his designee; and (e) administered in a reasonable manner, with "reasonableness" to be determined on the basis of factors such as the size, age, and the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the student.
Recent polls show continued strong support among educators and parents for the retention of paddling in the schools. Arguments in favor of the practice include tradition -- cost (paddling is cheaper than alternative programs); legality (the U.S. Supreme Court upheld school spanking in Ingraham vs. Wright, 1977); the right of teachers to act in the stead of parents; and the belief that the spanking is the most effective disciplinary response to misbehavior.
Opponents of the practice respond that tradition is a weak argument because we're always changing; that if a child is abused, the psychological and social cost thereafter may be great; that many legal experts consider spanking in the schools to be a violation of children's rights under the 8th (cruel and unusual punishment) and 14th (due process) Amendments; that the in loco parentis principle ended with the decline of the one-room schoolhouse; and that spanking teaches each new generation of students that violence is an acceptable response to social problems.
It is time for Texas to re-evaluate carefully its role as leader in a practice now banned in most nations.
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