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School CP - February 2008

Corpun file 20024


The Morning Journal, Lorain, Ohio, 10 February 2008

The Editor's Column

A good swat can be a good life lesson for kids

By John G. Cole

John Cole

IN an age when our public schools have metal detectors, security cameras and police officers roving the hallways, the prohibition of paddling students seems long overdue.

It stands as a silly and curious anachronism amidst the modern day reality of drug dogs, lock down drills and the occasional handgun in a backpack. In that atmosphere it is ludicrous and dangerous to ask a teacher or assistant principal to hit a student on the rear with a board in expectation that it would correct behavior or ameliorate a difficult situation.

It's bad policy from every angle, according to the professional educators. It doesn't alter behavior. It's a legal time bomb. It's a primitive response that's not allowed elsewhere in our society - there are no free hits unregulated any more. I'm not sure it isn't against the law to smack your Golden Retriever with a rolled up Morning Journal to keep him off the furniture.

Corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in our schools is long discredited and soon to be legislatively banned for good. And everyone - parents, children, teachers, principals, lawyers, emergency room nurses, counselors, police officers - is happy that the youth of Ohio are safe from oak-wielding sadists.

Except, well, and I don't really want to sit out on this unsupported and unsupportable limb, me. I remember the last time I perched on such an unsubstantial position was helmets for bicycle-riding children. My scorn for those mushroom-capped, chin-strapped unnecessaries was dismissed as harmful, shallow and ignorant. To advocate exposing children needlessly to harm is to offer oneself to vitriol. Such is the barren and windswept road that I travel.

So then, you may ask, what possible argument is there in favor of such a barbaric practice? What justification can there be for reddening the rears of our precious offspring as they strive (or not) to be all they can be? Why would anyone spit in the face of enlightened and progressive educational policy and advocate such outmoded, aggressive behavior?

It works.

That's my entire list of reasons. Nothing fancy or complicated and all of the risks are valid concerns, but before we slam this door for good, I'm sticking my foot in it and saying, "Yes, but it works."

Paddling, applied judiciously and evenhandedly, up through junior high school, can positively alter behavior. For many children, it is an introduction to discipline, an awakening to the unyielding reality that, in life, there will be consequences. If you can learn this as a young man or woman you'll be less likely to act the fool in high school. Detention or Saturday school, which are nothing more than glorified "time outs," have no impact whatsoever.

As a random act of cruelty, paddling is harmful and worthless. Combined with rigorous instruction, high expectations, communication between home and school and teachers who earn personal respect, it can be an attention getter, a limit setter and a butt stinger.

In the seventh grade, algebra teacher John Parsons taught me all that with one carefully aimed swing of the "Board of Education." I had goofed off in class and after school he let me have one fair and square. I remember assuming the position by grabbing my ankles (in those days kids could actually grab their ankles) and straightening up so rapidly on impact that I nearly whiplashed.

It was tender for a couple of hours, as promised. Mr. Parsons called my parents that evening to alert them their younger son had paid a price for inattention and life went on. The price was not pain as much as embarrassment and shame. I imagine Mr. Parsons, my parents and I slept well that night, even though I may have chosen not to sleep on my back.

By no stretch did I arrive at Roosevelt Junior High School from an undisciplined childhood, but I learned an important lesson from that single swat. It was a wakeup call to a 12-year-old boy that education was serious business, that life demanded preparation and that you'd better be paying close attention beginning right now. I was never paddled again.

What children we could save, what lives we could launch, were we to teach those lessons before it's too late. Whatever method we choose to make ourselves heard, we need to start now. Too many seventh graders just aren't getting the message.

John G. Cole is editor of The Morning Journal.

© The Morning Journal 2008

Corpun file 20041


McDowell News, North Carolina, 20 February 2008

Board revises paddling policy: Call home first

By Britt Combs

Before teachers pick up the paddle they have to pick up the phone. That's the decision of the McDowell County School Board.

In the past, a parent who did not want their child paddled had to state so in writing. Associate Superintendent Mike Murray proposed that the policy be altered. When a student's behavior calls for serious corrective measures school staff must contact the parent and explain the situation and offer alternatives. A parent may choose to allow the paddling or opt for other measures, in-school suspension, for example. In the event that the parent cannot be reached the alternative measure would be used until parental consent can be obtained, verbal consent would suffice.

After some discussion the board agreed and resolved to amend the policy based on Murray's description. They instructed him to draft the amendment and add it to the policy.

Corpun file 20045

ABC logo (WATE-TV) (ABC), Knoxville, Tennessee, 28 February 2008

Hancock Co. principal to plead guilty to assaulting student

Zachary SNEEDVILLE (WATE) -- The principal of Hancock County Elementary School will plead guilty to assault on a student for a paddling incident last fall.

A press release from a Sevierville law firm says Principal Thomas Q. Zachary will enter the plea in Hancock County court on Friday.

The assault happened at the elementary school, which is located in Sneedville, on November 1, 2007.

Zachary administered corporal punishment on the student with a large, wooden paddle. The release says he struck the student twice within a 15 minute period.

That student was later taken to Wellmont Hancock County Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Hancock County schools allow corporal punishment but strict guidelines must be followed.

It's not clear yet what action the school system or the state Department of Children's Services will take against Zachary.

He's on administrative leave with pay.

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2008 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.

blob Follow-up: 1 April 2008 - Grand jury does not indict Hancock principal

Corpun file 20091

ABC logo (WATE-TV) (ABC), Knoxville, Tennessee, 29 February 2008

Hancock Co. student says paddling left him black and blue

By Shelby Baker
6 News Reporter

Hunter Seal
"I couldn't sit down. It hurt when I would sit down and it sometimes hurt to walk," Hunter Seal says.

HANCOCK COUNTY (WATE) -- A 13-year-old Hancock County student says his principal paddled him so hard last fall he had to go to the emergency room for treatment.

"I couldn't sit down. It hurt when I would sit down and it sometimes hurt to walk," Hunter Seal says.

Hancock County Elementary School Principal Thomas Zachary now faces charges of simple assault for the November 1 incident.

Hunter's father, Tony Seal, says Zachary crossed the line. "It was black. I mean it was real bad, black and blue."

Hunter says he was sent to the principal's office for not doing his homework and misbehaving in class.

"He paddled me four times and it hurt," Hunter says.

When he got home from school that day, Hunter showed his mom the injuries and they went straight to the emergency room.

His dad says he wants the principal fired from the school district before the same thing happens to another child.

"He should not be the principal of any type of school. If he can't control himself, it's not right and it's completely uncalled for," Tony Seal says.

Principal Zachary has been on paid administrative leave since February 8. He's expected to plead guilty to the assault charge in court Friday.

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2008 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.

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