39. AN OPEN LETTER TO Mr. JORDAN RIAK

Dear Readers: The following is TWP’s copy of an email sent a few days ago to Jordan Riak, the director of P.T.A.V.E. (Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education) This TWP post-version is the exact same word for word letter that Mr. Riak received. We encourage ALL of our readers to examine the letter below and send us your own comments positive or negative. On a future post, TWP will publish quotes from comments that are non-vulgar and non-obscene.

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO Mr. JORDAN RIAK

Dear Mr. Jordan Riak:

We at Teacherswhopaddle are sure that you never thought that you would ever hear from a blog like ours. In fact, we are certain that you never believed that a middle-of-the-road blog such as TWP could ever come into existence. Well, our blog not only exists but, since its creation in August 2008, has become on of the top 100 blogs in the wordpress community of blogs.

A little background on the four contributors is in order. I (Renee) am the editor of teacherswhopaddle and am currently finishing my 8th year as a third grade elementary teacher. Jenny is a 6 year teacher who teaches fourth grade. Wendy, who started her maternity leave at Christmas Break, is a 4 year teacher who teaches fifth grade. Michelle, our youngest teacher-contributor, is finishing her 3rd year as the other fourth grade teacher at our school. (See post ABOUT US)

Our school itself is in a rural district in the southeastern U.S. where corporal punishment is legal. The district school board has a c.p. policy in place which allows parental opt-outs and mandates witnesses, moderation (3 to 5 paddle swats max), and restrictions on when c.p. can be considered. Also, as a “Shield Law” state, we as individual teachers do NOT worry about a vengeful parents or $$$-chasing attorneys bankrupting us or taking our family’s home if we follow the school board’s policy on c.p. The paddle is rarely used by the four of us and only as a last rresort. (See post PART I: POLICY SUGGESTIONS)

Where we differ from some “old-school” educators is how corporal punishment should be carried out. We believe that ALL corporal punishment must be administered JUDICIOUSLY, MODERATELY, and SPARINGLY. First, to be JUDICIOUS, c.p. must be used fairly without favor or discrimination towards any student. Second, when c.p. is administered, it must be MODERATE in application with no bruising or marks -which is unacceptable. Finally, c.p. in school discipline must be used SPARINGLY and as a last resort. (See post MISSION STATEMENT & OTHER THINGS)

So far, we have told you about ourselves, the discipline policy of our school, and the way corporal punishment in school should be carried out. We are sure you disagree 100% with everything that has been mentioned in this email. That’s o.k. because we disagree with MOST of what your organization stands for -But not EVERYTHING. Where we disagree, we must simply agree to disagree.

However, some things simply cannot be ignored or treated as just a “disagreement” on principle. Rather, there are some things that we at TWP feel must be addressed and confronted head-on. These “problems” are not minute -They taint not only the intended target but the instigator as well.

1) RAPE: The usage of this word outside of the context of the violent crime of sexual battery is a slap in the face of every RAPE VICTIM. We at TWP understand that your organization is anti- corporal punishment. That is o.k. But to take a word like RAPE and use it in a context the way P.T.A.V.E. does is totally unacceptable! One of my best college friends was a victim of date RAPE and I will never forget the traumatic aftermath that I saw her go through. And then to see your site compare a school paddling to RAPE! So, the coupling of c.p. to RAPE is offensive to me because of my friendship with a RAPE VICTIM and as a woman myself. Same as to “sexual abuse” -Totally insensitive to the real victims of sexual abuse. I say that as the protective mother of a three year old boy whom I would do anything for.

2) Teachers as Prostitutes: Mr. Riak, do you realize how much you hurt your own cause by this line of reasoning. Forget your crusade for a moment and think about the average school teacher that is “sitting on the fence.” I was one of those and leaned in your direction at the start of my career. Most people are not on the socio-fringe and like myself, are just middle-of-the-road. The name-calling and loathsome comparisons drive away the majority who live outside your “community.” You can find a few zealots who will support a cause w/o question but as a result lose a lot more people that just tune you out. Suggestion: If you do not want to be dismissed as a “wingding,” try another approach.

3) Paddling as Lynching: We at TWP are surprised that you have not caught “hell” for using that analogy. Aside from the history of how and why the paddle came into being, we are sure that the families of victims of the horror of lynching would have plenty to say about that linkage. It certainly would be NEGATIVE! Did you ever discuss the Paddling=Lynching angle with members of the civil rights movement? I believe that they would tell P.T.A.V.E. to “butt-out” of an issue that they rightfully consider exclusively their own.

So what do four teachers from the other side of the U.S. want from you? First, remove references that compare paddling to the criminal act of RAPE with an apology to RAPE VICTIMS on the front page of P.T.A.V.E. Second, take down your offensive picture comparing teacher who use legal c.p. to prostitutes and/or porn stars and issue an apology to all teachers for the mislabeling. Finally, apologize to the African-American community for your false coupling of paddling to lynching.

Please notice that we did not demand that you change your views on c.p. Differences of opinion are fine but the damage of misusing words can and will affect others negatively and that is the root of the problem. As a classroom teacher, I deal every day with squabbles among my pupils and one thing I strive to teach is civility, even when two parties disagree. I truly believe we as adults need to do likewise.

Please do feel free to respond to this email by going to our blog at: https://teacherswhopaddle.wordpress.com. Also, if you wish to post this email on your web site -TWP gives permission to do so. We cordially invite you to read our blog posts and welcome your constructive feedback.

Sincerely looking forward to hearing from you soon,

Renee (Editor), Jenny, Wendy, Michelle

 

P.T.A.V.E. RESPONDS…sort of

Well, dear readers, it did not take long for the anti-c.p. crusaders to respond to our missive above that was sent by email. Actually, it took only hours as the email was sent on a Wednesday night and the response returned the next morning. Take that U.S. Postal Service! The ‘net rules!

But we were a little disappointed. Instead of a reply by Mr. Jordan Riak, the email reply came from Paula Flowe, the Director of TheHittingStopsHere. In the email, Ms. Flowe heaped praise on Mr. Riak and then challenged the four of us to a live radio show debate to be hosted by her and attended by Riak and others.

Huh?

What is wrong with this picture?

First thing, the OPEN LETTER TO Mr. JORDAN RIAK was directed TO Mr. Jordan Riak -Not Ms. Paula Flowe. TWP might sound off-putting, but while the letter was “open,” we were looking for a reply from Mr. Riak. Granted, he may be on vacation -But we understand and would be willing to wait for his reply. As to third parties: If you wish to correspond, please do so by the normal channels.

Second, as to the radio talk show interview offer -ARE YOU KIDDING? Ms. Flowe, you identified yourself as the HOST! No way and no how! But your proposal of 10 questions each in a give and take format is interesting. Counter-Proposal: We at TWP will take the first step and submit our 10 questions to you, Ms Flowe, by email and this blog. We will post your reply ASAP but only request that each answer be 100 words max. (We just want relatively short and direct answers -Not a college term paper!)

 

TWP’s TEN QUESTIONS FOR P.T.A.V.E.

1) How do you explain to a RAPE VICTIM how legal corporal punishment is equal to the crime they suffered?

2) What do you say to a teacher, who rarely uses the paddle and is also a mom herself, about the linkage of prositutes/porn stars to teachers like herself?

3) How do you defend the coupling of the crime of lynching to the legal use of c.p. in school?

4) What is wrong with allowing locally elected school boards to decide if to allow c.p. in the district schools?

5) Why not just allow parents to “opt” their children out of c.p. without pre-condition?

6) Why should a teacher, who is the lowest ranking certified employee of the system, be afraid of losing his/her home in a “non-Shield Law” state merely for paddling a student according to school policy guidelines?

7)Is the risk of grade retention and higher probability of dropping out of school as a result of “out-of-school” suspension better than c.p.? Why?

8.) All teachers agree that self-esteem plays a role in education. Of the following three -Self Esteem, Academic Achievement, and Classroom Rules- Which is most important by rank and why?

9) One day, you pick your child up from school and he/she says “I was paddled today in school.” Which of the following do you do FIRST (and rank/explain the following): Call the media/Hold a press conference, Check for and/or document any bruises/marks, meet immediately with teacher/principal.

10) Is there ANY corporal punishment policy that you would be willing to allow to remain in place in U.S. schools?

 

COMING NEXT: P.T.A.V.E.’s NO ANSWER

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