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-- THE ARCHIVE --


UNITED STATES

School CP - January 1993



Corpun file 04415
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 29 January 1993

Only 151 in 568 State Schools Use Spanking

By Jim Killackey

ENID - Five of six students in Oklahoma public schools are taught in districts that don't use corporal punishment as a form of discipline, a first-ever state Education Department survey released Thursday indicates.

Some 244 school districts have banned spanking, and instead use some form of alternative punishment for student misbehavior, the survey noted.

"This is a new day for student disciplinary measures. Oklahoma is taking a major step forward in dealing with student discipline.

This is very good news," Sandy Garrett, state school superintendent, said Thursday.

Of the approximately 600,000 public schoolchildren in Oklahoma, 500,000 are being taught in school districts that have either prohibited corporal punishment, or have kept it on their books but no longer use it.

In Oklahoma, 151 of 568 public school districts employ corporal punishment. Those school districts - mostly in rural areas of the state - have about 100,000 students.

Many rural educators have argued that they should be allowed to use corporal punishment as a form of disciplining unruly students - and that both students and their parents agree with that stance.

Even though it is still in their rulebooks, 173 districts don't utilize corporal punishment.

Statistics compiled for the 1992-1993 academic year show Antlers schools with the most number of reported paddling incidents - 147 - among Oklahoma public school districts.

There were 1,652 paddling incidents statewide so far this school term, as of Jan. 15, according to the education department.

Public school districts with the highest numbers of corporal punishment incidents include Salina, 106; Crooked Oak, 77; Wellston, 59; Jay, 53; Kinta, 45; Woodland, 40; Muldrow, 36; and Bixby, 35.

In Oklahoma County, the Putnam City, Crooked Oak and Choctaw-Nicoma districts were the only ones reporting incidents of paddlings this school year. Seven districts - Oklahoma City, Bethany, Crutcho, Deer Creek, Midwest City-Del City, Oakdale and Western Heights - have banned such punishment.

Mustang, Union City, Riverside, Little Axe, Moore, Noble, Norman, Robin Hill, and Schwartz schools also are prohibiting the use of swats, according to the department report.

In Tulsa County, only the Bixby school district said it used corporal punishment.

The data, Garrett said Thursday during a meeting of the state Board of Education in Enid, indicates that many districts are heeding her call for a two-year moratorium on swats.

The 1,652 paddling incidents, the superintendent said, are a far cry from the estimated 20,000 swats that federal education officials said occurred in Oklahoma public schools during the 1991-92 academic year.

Federal educators had placed Oklahoma ninth in the country in terms of corporal punishment incidents. Last school year, Arkansas was ranked first.

Garrett termed the corporal punishment report a "landmark" in Oklahoma education.

Under provisions of House Bill 1017, the state education department in Oklahoma City was told to "provide each local board of education (with) materials dealing with effective classroom discipline techniques as an alternative to the use of corporal punishment."



Corpun file 04399
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 30 January 1993

Educators Debate Tools of Discipline

By Jim Killackey

A ban on corporal punishment in all Oklahoma public schools would be a dream come true for Nancy vonBargen of Norman.

For Antlers public school Superintendent James Begin, it would be a serious mistake.

VonBargen, vice president of Oklahomans Opposed to Corporal Punishment, said Friday that the dramatic increase in the number of Oklahoma public school districts that prohibit student paddlings doesn't indicate that educators have gone soft on discipline.

"We believe that discipline is essential. But hitting kids is not the answer," vonBargen said.

Begin of Antlers said Friday that corporal punishment should remain "one disciplinary tool among many" which school administrators have available to them.

Antlers schools were shown by a state Department of Education survey to have the state's highest number of paddlings - 147 - so far during the 1992-93 academic year.

"We're not proud of those numbers, but we're not ashamed of them either," Begin said. "We're not barbaric and we're not out to abuse kids.

"But we have control of our students."

The flash point for comments from vonBargen and Begin is an education department report showing 417 of Oklahoma's 568 public school districts have either officially prohibited swats or no longer use the practice.

VonBargen and about 80 other individuals associated with Oklahomans Opposed to Corporal Punishment have been working statewide for the past few years to encourage public schools to ban swats as a form of student discipline.

When the 1990s started, only seven school districts had formal policies prohibiting corporal punishment.

Now, 244 school districts have banned spanking, and instead use some form alternative punishment for student misbehavior. Another 173 districts don't use corporal punishment, and 151 Oklahoma public 1 school districts use corporal punishment.

VonBargen said a statewide ban would be beneficial; she said 22 states prohibit swats.

"We're very excited that so many Oklahoma school districts have banned this dangerous practice. We're confident that school districts can manage just as well" without corporal punishment, she said.

She credits state school superintendent Sandy Garrett, Gov. David Walters and the state Board of Education for urging schools to place a moratorium on swats.

"Corporal punishment is dangerous, ineffective and unnecessary.

It's essential that schools be a model for nonviolent problem-solving skills," vonBargen said.

From a practical standpoint, schools that continue to use swats face the possibility of expensive lawsuits if a student is injured, she said.

VonBargen said schools have a variety of alternatives to corporal punishment.

Those range from in-school suspension and student behavior "contracts," to the loss of student privileges and having parents spend a day or two in class with their child, a practice known as "shadowing. "

Meanwhile, Begin said Friday that Antlers students, teachers and administrators were shocked and embarrassed by the education department survey which they believe unfairly singles out their southeastern Oklahoma community for stressing "old-fashioned values."

Antlers' schools, with 1,050 students, reinstated corporal punishment after a two-month moratorium at the start of this school year.

"We're following our school board policy, and state law provides that we can use" corporal punishment, the superintendent noted.

Swats are used only after other disciplinary methods have failed, he said. Swats are administered only by principals or their assistants.

Students don't mind paddlings, and often prefer that type of punishment to a class suspension, Begin said.

"Parents believe that corporal punishment is effective, useful and has a place in schools," he added.



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