59. A READER COMMENTS/TWP’S RESPONSE, TEACHER FEATURE DOUBLE: WENDY and MICHELLE RESPOND & PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE week #5 (RENEE PADDLES)

2ND MEMO TO “HOWARD”: We at TWP wish your second message had been the first. Your first was mostly a diatribe and rant against the contributors of this blog and like the 100s of others -Get NOWHERE with us. The 2nd message had more substance and guess what? The highlights of your 2nd message are below with our response. TWP considers this a “teachable” moment!

A READER COMMENTS/TWP RESPONSE

As to my facts, I did check them. Here’s something about immunity laws:

States that permit school corporal punishment provide legal immunity for paddlers.437 In Mississippi, for example, the only way to prevail in a lawsuit against an educator for corporal punishment is if the educator’s conduct constitutes a criminal offense, or if he or she acted with a “malicious purpose.”438 These immunity laws make it extremely difficult for parents to pursue legal action against school officials who have acted contrary to parental wishes, or who have injured children in their care.

Texas statutes also provide immunity for persons who administer corporal punishment under both criminal and civil law. The Texas Penal Code immunizes educators against criminal responsibility when they use “force, but not deadly force,” as long as the “actor reasonably believes the force is necessary” to further discipline.439 Likewise, educators are immune from civil liability when paddling does not result in bodily injury. The Texas Education Code specifies that “[a] professional employee of a school district is not personally liable for any act that is incident to or within the scope of the duties of the employee’s position of employment … except in circumstances in which a professional employee uses excessive force in the discipline of students or negligence resulting in bodily injury to students.”440

Because the language used in these laws (“excessive,” “bodily injury,” “reasonably believes) may be interpreted differently in individual cases, it affords little protection to students. In some cases, for example, bodily injury has been deemed to refer to permanent injury.

Look, I’m not a lawyer; I’m not about citing cases, although I have read your feelings concerning Ingraham v Wright. I understand that it is not your intention to “harm” children or to defend those who do. Yet I remain concerned that you support this practice despite the potential dangers. I am certain you will admit there have been instances of corporal punishment that have offended your sense of right and wrong. Why risk that happening in your school?

I also (still) do not understand why you prefer to identify yourselves as “Teachers Who Paddle.” How about “Teachers Who Teach?”

You say it has nothing to do with respect.

Your respect (or lack of) aside, our response is as follows.

First, as to teacher “shield laws.” Our perspective comes from a teacher point of view. As employees, we DO NOT make policy and hope never to have to because that’s the job of an elected school board exclusively. The usage of the mere threat of lawsuits and/or criminal charges is a tactic of the anti-c.p. movement when local school boards or state governments refuse to enact c.p. bans. In other words, the legal system is “prostituted” (our words) for the purpose of creating a de facto “back door” ban.

This is dishonest because c.p. IS legal in the non-ban states. It is also unethical, in our opinion, to use the legal system in a threatening manner to force de facto policy changes that a local community does not favor. After all, most teachers cannot afford to hire an attorney to defend themselves from a “junk” lawsuit. Better idea: A conditional shield law which applies civil and criminal protection ONLY if all school policies are followed AND if parent’s opt-out wishes are respected. Of course, if opt-out and shield laws were the law of the U.S., P.T.A.V.E. would go out of business because the parents who disliked c.p. would just opt their kids out and educators who use c.p. wouldn’t have to fear legal retaliation if they use c.p. in accordance with school policy.

Second, the examples you cited are the major reason we at TWP support shield laws. All four of us have mortgages, car loans as well as families to suupport. From our perspective, not having shield laws could potentially place all of us at risk because of a vague word or definition being misinterpreted by some jury. Also, unlike most other countries, the U.S. is NOT a “loser pays” legal system. A teacher could “win” a junk lawsuit but still lose the legal bills “war.”

Third, as to “potential dangers” to school children: That is another reason why we wrote this blog. TWP would go as far as to say that ANYTHING beyond our guidelines in our posts IS abusive and no shield law should cover such. But to advocate a total ban because of the abusive exceptions is ABSOLUTIST! We at TWP consider ourselves “middle of the road” although leaning towards the “pro” side.

Finally, as to “respect”: We respect those who disagree with us in an informed manner. Your first message failed to do that. But your second message was much better although we disagree with the direction you are coming from. On where we disagree -We will just have to agree to disagree.

As to the name of our blog TEACHERSWHOPADDLE, you have to admit -It does catch more reader interest than “Teachers Who Teach.” We honestly believe that the latter never would have achieved a readership of over 25,500 like the former. And this blog IS helping to create an honest dialog on the issue of school discipline -The next segment nonewithsiding.

 

TEACHER FEATURE PART I: WENDY RESPONDS

TO

“THE HITTING STOPS HERE has a message for WENDY”

http://www.thehittingstopshere.com/campaigns/Obama%

20July%2026%20Speech%20Completed.pdf


We hope that when you first looked at your newborn child that you realized that it is better to be kind, gentle and patient while training young developing human beings. We hope you realize, also that under the 14th Amendment, no one, no matter what their status, or the environment that they are in, has the right to harm another human being. Corporal Punishment is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. We hope you will side with 21st century America and learn to treat all children in your care with mutual respect and kindness. The “aura” of a teacher is pride, gross disgusting pride. Students do better with teachers who are willing to roll on the floor with them bringing laughter into their classrooms. Please read Plain Talk About Spanking to avoid making the same mistake with your precious child that you made with Shad in a situation that did not “end well” for him at all. We wish you and all children under your care and authority the very highest means of relating to one another which leaves “hitting” out.

Dear Ms. Flowe et al.,

I really wish that you and your organization would have communicated with me by way of this blog. You seem educated enough to be able to read ALL of our posts. Doing so would have been informative and perhaps prevented your group from looking like “village idiots.”

Under “The Mindset of Teachers Who Paddle,” you refer to us as “proud paddlers” with a “insatiable habit for beating and terrorizing our school children” Huh? Our? I didn’t know you adopted all the kids in our classrooms. If any reader ever reads our posts, they will come to a different conclusion than your rant: Paddlings are quite rare among the four of us. Last year, the four of us paddled seven students out of a total of about 100+/- students in all of our classrooms.

As to the rest of your “letter” to President Obama: Congratulations, your criticism of our president ensures that if he were to get the letter -It will go straight to the paper shredder. References to “Beguiled Black Americans” is nothing but STUPID! In the future, you may want to move beyond “race-baiting” and looking for “white supremacists” behind every tree when pushing your agenda. Divisiveness does NOT work on the playground and it will NOT work for you.

Your constitutional analysis has a hole in it…a very BIG HOLE! It is the Ingraham v. Wright (1977) decision which contradicts your whole rationale. TWP has provided a link to a web page that explains the decision. Governmental bodies may ban (or un-ban) c.p. but it IS CONSTITUTIONAL. Unless you live in an “alternate universe.”

Last, in reference to “aura”, it means to me as a teacher “weight of responsibility” in which I am held accountable EVERY day for my students. Thankfully, I succeeded with every class I taught w/o resorting to “rolling in the floor”! (Ms. Flowe, what is YOUR background in teaching anyway?)

I think I will look for more valid and reliable advice on child rearing than your outfit.

Thats all I have to say…Baby Patrick is awakening from his nap.

Regards,

Wendy

TEACHER FEATURE PART II: MICHELLE RESPONDS

Q: How do you convince parents to allow you to paddle their children?

Good Grief! All I did was to explain the disciplinary options as set out in school policy -Including our opt-out provision if Miguel’s parents chose to do so. The parents did understand that if the inappropriate behavior persisted, it would adversely affect Miguel’s school placement. His folks understood that and wanted Miguel to stay at our school. They also understood what c.p. was in our school and I emphasized how reluctant I am about using the paddle.

How do feel about comments like “…bragging and boasting to the entire world about how they routinely beat students…”?

Bragging? Boasting? ROUTINE? I guess…If you consider 3 paddlings in 3 years “routine. I wonder what blog that questioner is reading? My own experiences as well as the other contributors do NOT read to me like bragging or boasting. Rather; all our experiences demonstrate, so far as we are concerned, how traumatic to us having to paddle one of our “kids” is. I know it is for me. Why do you think I have only paddled three students in my entire career?

How is Miguel doing today? Did he make grade and move up to 5th grade?

YES! He made grade and I do revert a little to my college cheerleader persona when handing out grade reports at the end of the year. Miguel is doing well in Max’s class and staying out of trouble too! When on bus duty or lunchtime monitoring, I see him (or he sees me) and he always waves and grins at me. I think it may have broke his heart a little when he found out I was married this summer but boys will be boys…

 

PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE week #5 (RENEE PADDLES)

Instead of the usual format, this segment is different. Why? Because this past week was different. There was the normal detentions and I.S.S. sanctions but on Wednesday, something else happened. I (Renee) gave a paddling. Up until this week, I had observed a few paddlings but hoped that my strategy for reducing the frequency of c.p. would spare me from having to give one. As I like to tell parents and students alike, “One has to really earn one around here!”

Well, one young lady did…And went the extra mile to do so.

Miranda seems to be on the detention list nearly every day and has been in I.S.S. several times already this year. She was waiting outside my office as I returned from patrolling the halls. The referral on my desk stated “profanity” and “attempted to start fight” -And was from I.S.S. already! Miranda did not dispute the referral when asked about it.

“Hey, girl…This is the FOURTH time you have been sent to my office!…No other young lady in the county has a record like yours…So, whats the deal?” I asked.

All the 8th grader could say was “Teachers picking on me” and “No one likes me.”

I matter-of-factly replied,”ALL 40 +/- teachers have it in for you?…Yeah, right!…Gimme a break!”

“Every year…Same ol’ routine…”, Miranda whinned.

When I heard “every year”, I looked up here discipline records on my computer and she was right. This detention and I.S.S. “song and dance” had been going on since she started 6th grade at the middle school. A bigger shock: Miranda had come from my elementary school and Michelle, Wendy, and I had all taught her!

When I figured out who she was -I was nearly floored! Miranda had been one of the best behaved young ladies in the elementary school and was on the academic star roll. But Miranda had changed -And not just size-wise or for the better. Ever hear of the ‘goth culture”? Dark dress, jet-black hair (Miranda’s hair WAS brown), goulish pale facial makeup, and dark mascara. My folks would have locked me in my bedroom had I looked like that! While I had dealt with Miranda before, I was aghast to learn of our prior connection. I have a live and let live attitude about student clothes -As long as it does not violate the dress code, its o.k. by me.

But Miranda was not o.k. as per the referral and faced out-of-school suspension. I just had to get the rest of the story so I called her mom’s cell #. The story was troubling. Miranda’s mom and dad had divorced when she was in 5th grade. I then recalled that she did not graduate from my elementary school. Her mom had custody and moved away before moving back a year later. (Miranda’s dad whereabouts unknown) To make ends meet, her mom worked daytime as a house maid and nights at a “honky tonk” bar. Becoming a teen, Miranda was unsupervised and in a state of full-blown rebellion.

“Renee, dear…I have adversely affected my own health worrying about Miranda and her life’s direction…I cry myself to sleep nearly every night after arguing over chores, curfews, homework…You name it!…Miranda is smart when she wants to but is on a bad track and headed for trouble if she ever drops out of school!” Miranda’s mom wailed.

“I can’t be her mom, Ms. ….,” I replied as I wondered where this was going.

“Renee, I remember you as Miranda’s teacher…You were firm but fair and that’s what Miranda needs…Because I don’t want her to end up a drop out like me and live the life of hell that I live every day!”

So, what do you want me to do?” I asked, fearing the answer.

“Do as you did when teaching…Those few times when the other options failed…Take a paddle to Miranda’s rear end
…” Ms. … answered.

It was then decided that Miranda would receive 3 swats and then be sent back to I.S.S. First, I called in Brenda, the guidance counselor as a witness before informing Miranda.

Miranda looked at me funny and said,”I’m too old for…”

“From what your mom says, I think you are WAY over due…Unless you prefer O.S.S. with a referral to the alternative school…And with that, bye bye to all your friends,” I responded.

Miranda seemed to see the light and bent over in the wall brace position. I held the “Cheryl/Kaye” paddle with my right hand and took careful aim at the black skirt clad rear end of a contrite Miranda.

Swinging from a 90 degree angle, I connected.

Woosh SMACK ouch!

Woosh SMACK owwww!

Woosh SMACK owwww! sob!

When Miranda turned around, she was contrite AND IN TEARS.

Placing the paddle on the conference room table, I patted Miranda on the shoulder and whispered,”Its o.k. dear…I know that was unpleasant but just think what you put your dear mom through these last three years…I am disappointed in you and …I know you can do better!”

Miranda nodded affirmatively while wipping away a few tears with a tissue I handed her.

I then spoke more forcefully,”Miranda, dear…I promised your mom that I would not let you fail…So, afterschool you are going to do your homework at the library or office until your grades are better than merely passing -Because you are smarter than that!…And your ‘goth friends’?…Drop them!…You are not going to have time for them!”

“Why?” Miranda asked.

“Because next week Wednesday, I will be placing you in a new AND BETTER social orbit,” I answered as we walked in the direction of the I.S.S. trailer. Miranda will finish the original penalty for insubordination by early next week.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: My plan is to appoint Miranda to a vacancy on the student council as part of my strategy to refocus her social circle. Readers will be kept up to date on future posts.)

Due to the length of this post, the RENEE CHRONICLES pt. IV will be published in the next edition of our blog with pt. V. It will be well worth the wait -WE PROMISE!


COMING NEXT: PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE week #6

&

R.C. pts. IV and V

 

 

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