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School CP - January 1999

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The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Georgia, 6 January 1999

In My Opinion

Put limits on all children

By Harris Green


The Editors: I read recently about the teacher who got into trouble for washing the mouth of a foul-mouthed student ("DeKalb teacher suspended, rebuked," Local News, Dec. 23). When I was a boy, I would have had my mouth washed out by my mother when I got home, and the apologies from my parents would have been profuse.

Of course, today's professionals reason that we should treat children with more respect. I believe that children need limits that will be enforced.

When I was a child, I was told clearly what I could and could not do. When I got out of line in school, I was sometimes paddled, but I understood that my punishment was an act of love. Of course I didn't like it, but I always knew that I deserved it. The disciplinarian in our junior high school in Montgomery was the coach, who used a shaved-down baseball bat to deliver licks -- to our bare rumps -- that would lift you off the floor. Did I hate him for that? No. I loved him, and still do.

A few years ago, I went back to visit the school. Whereas back then all we had was a not-so-stern principal walking the halls to maintain order, the school now has uniformed police officers. Whereas the shop teacher back then maintained order with a paddle, the shop teacher I met on my visit carried a cellular phone so she could quickly contact the parents of miscreants.

Is this what showing more "respect" for pupils has wrought? Please, deliver me from these "enlightened" nitwits into the hands of those loving "brutalizers" of my youth.

Jasper Harris Green, retired from the English department at DeKalb College, now teaches part time at North Georgia College. He and his wife moved to North Georgia last year.

Copyright 1999, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.

Corpun file 3349 at


Billings Gazette, Montana, 19 January 1999

The '99 Session

Proposal: A little pain keeps students in line

By Bob Anez

HELENA (AP) - A little pain in the classroom won't hurt, Sen. Daryl Toews said Monday.

Allowing teachers to inflict pain on students, so long as it is not long-lasting pain, would help improve discipline in schools, he told the Senate Education Committee.

The Republican from Lustre urged the panel to approve his bill to give teachers that authority, saying, "We have to do something about the kid who says, 'We can do anything we want.'"

His Senate Bill 3 would permit dispensing of corporal punishment that does not cause "prolonged" pain. The current law forbids a teacher from intentionally inflicting punishment that causes any pain.

"It's appropriate for a teacher to put a hand on a (student's) shoulder and give a little squeeze for a while," said Toews, who was a school board member for nine years. "It's pain, but it's not prolonged pain. It's there and it's gone."

Teachers should be encouraged to handle discipline problems in the classroom through such indiscreet moves, he added. Sending troublesome students to the principal only draws attention to them, something many such students seek in being disruptive, he said.

The bill was opposed by the state Office of Public Instruction.

Gail Gray, assistant superintendent for curriculum services, said the agency agrees with Toews' goal of improving discipline in the schools, but objects to his solution. What constitutes prolonged pain is so unclear that the law change would invite plenty of litigation against school districts, she warned.

Sen. Mignon Waterman, D-Helena, wondered whether Toews' bill would let teachers "give one really good whack" as long as they did not continue striking a student for a prolonged period.

Toews said the bill would not allow whacks that cause lasting pain.

"We intend for teachers to be in charge," he said. "If it causes a little bit of pain, OK."

The committee did not act on the bill.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

Corpun file 3383


The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Georgia, 21 January 1999

School Watch

Students' worst weapon? Their mouths

Teachers propose ways to handle and prevent their biggest disciplinary problem: disrespect

The majority of students misbehaving aren't bringing weapons to schools, and they aren't fighting in the hallways.

They are mostly talking back to their teachers and school administrators and acting out in class, said Harry Werner, principal of Henry County's Locust Grove Elementary School.

Werner, who has a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, should know. A few months ago, he took a disruptive kindergarten student home after teachers said the child caused repeated problems by picking on his classmates.

Willie Scott, the principal of North Clayton High School, echoes Werner's sentiments. In the fall, Scott suspended a student he said used profanity toward a teacher. The student had had a long record of disciplinary problems at another school, the principal said.

"He had two pages of disciplinary problems," said Scott, who was confronted at the school by the boy's mother, who has since removed the student from North Clayton.

Compromise with principals

For administrators like Werner and Scott, help may be on the way from lawmakers.

The General Assembly is considering legislation to help schools deal more effectively with disruptive students.

In 1997, it passed a School Safety Act that added new requirements for holding juvenile offenders and other students accountable for past infractions when they try to enroll in a new school district. But key elements did not survive the legislative process.

Another proposal attached to the bill, from the Georgia Association of Educators, would have allowed teachers to kick students out of their class permanently, even if the principal disagrees. Lobbyists representing principals killed the idea.

Recently, the GAE has sat down to work out a compromise with its opponents on this issue, four of the other major education groups representing school boards, superintendents, principals and non-union teachers. The result of their meetings is a proposed bill they're calling "Improved Student Learning and Discipline Act of 1999."

The compromise is this: If a principal disagrees with a teacher who has thrown a student out of class, the dispute is resolved by a three-member "placement review committee" that would have two members chosen by the faculty. Also, parents of chronically disruptive students would be forced to take parenting classes, and school systems would be required to provide character education.

The idea of parenting classes is likely to go over well with school officials.

In some cases, disruptive students are imitating behaviors of their parents and often act out at school because their behavior is tolerated at home, said Werner and Scott.

The principals say teachers must establish guidelines early in the year and send a message to students that they are serious about misconduct.

"We want teachers to have control of their classrooms," said Scott.

Until last school year, corporal punishment was allowed in Henry County. Since its demise, Werner said, discipline problems at Locust Grove have increased by 75 to 80 percent. Each week, Werner has to discipline 12 to 20 of his 750 students for misbehaving in class or on school buses.

In the absence of a deterrent like corporal punishment, the key to reducing discipline problems is stern action when students misbehave, said Werner.

"At the first sign of misbehavior, you have to do something then," said Werner. "You make an example of them. The kids realize that you're not going to put up with foolishness."

Werner said kids don't take some teachers and administrators seriously because they "are not afraid of punishment because they know they are not going to get anything (for misbehaving)."

Copyright 1999, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved

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