19. MICHELLE’S ENCOUNTER WITH A P.T.A.V.E. MEMBER

Dear Readers: This blog post was originally intended to be posted after the prior two blogs on our youngest teacher Michelle. Because of some issues related with this blog, we at TWP held off on publishing it. Indeed, if it seems like we are attempting to make Michelle the “star” of TWP- nothing could be further from the truth. Fact is, Michelle is the most reluctant paddler among us- and we all detest using the paddle ourselves. But when it comes down to a few moderate swats or the only other option-suspension- then we all agree that a few swats is the lesser of two “evils.” Unfortunately, some people do not share that view and should simply agree to disagree- not resort to name-calling and angry outbursts. After all, in our school district, the parents have the right to opt out of paddling for their kids- but the story below shows the worst in anti-paddling hysteria.

MICHELLE’S ENCOUNTER WITH A P.T.A.V.E. MEMBER

It happened the day before the official start of school. The students had already been registered that morning and we teachers had just concluded our last staff meeting after a lunch break. The day was almost over when we all decided to do some last minute organizing of our classrooms.

Since I (Renee) got an early start the previous day, I walked the halls to see if anyone else needed an extra hand. As I did, I noticed an older portly lady walking down the hall in a rushed pace while half dragging a young boy. The kid looked like he wanted to be anywhere but where he was.

“Matthew, pay attention to me…This is the library…and over here (pointing) is the cafeteria…” the lady intoned.

“The walking tour will not be necessary, Ma’am…we faculty members do orientation for new students tomorrow,” I cheerfully explained.

“I’m just trying to keep my Matt from being abused!…Where is 4-b?…I want to speak with his teacher!” the unsmiling lady snapped.

Dumbstruck, I pointed towards Michelle’s room (Forgive me, Michelle) and the lady marched in to see a sunny and sweet tempered Michelle who was whistling as she stocked her desk with last minute supplies. Because we had already decided to launch our blog and had several weeks pre-written, I caught on to the word “abused” and its immediate context: Our school! So I then decided to listen in on the “meeting” from just outside the open door.

“Hello,…You must be Ms. Michelle …., the teacher for 4-b?” the lady asked.

A smiling Michelle stood up and extended her right hand responding,”Yes, I am the 4th grade teacher in here…You must be new to …… county…Welcome!…And please call me Michelle…How can I help you?”

“My…you are certainly a beautiful young lady!…Is this your first year in teaching?” the lady asked.

“No, it is actually my third year this August…But time seems to fly by so…”

“Well I am short on time so let me get to the heart of the matter…Violence in education!” the lady interrupted.

Michelle responded wide-eyed,”Violence?…We don’t have…other than a few scuffles between some kids on rare occasions…and we teachers break…”

“No NO no, I am talking about teacher-student violence…” the lady retorted.

Again, Michelle spoke,”Teacher-student violence?…No student has ever been violent against a teacher here since I have been teaching…”

The lady shot back,”Ms. …., I am talking about teacher on student violence!…I am a proud member of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education and wish only to protect my boy from violence from…”

At this moment, I was about to involve myself in this strange conversation when Michelle replied,”Ma’am, I don’t know where you are coming from but I am not a violent person and the same can be said for every staff person in this school…”

The lady angrily replied,”This is a paddling district…That’s a fact and do not attempt to LIE to me about it!”

Michelle broke in,”So that is what this is about!…Well, I have news for you…First, I have only paddled two students in the two years I’ve been here and second,…If you don’t want your child to be paddle eligible, then all you have to do is sign the opt-out form and…”

Then the lady jumped up out of her seat blurting,”YOU…ARE…AN ABUSER!…That’s why you chose teaching…To bruise and beat small children!”

“Lady…Please!…I have never bruised a child with this…” Michelle spoke softly as she pulled her 16″ x 3 1/2″ x 1/4″ paddle from her desk and continued,”It is somewhat long and LOOKS scary but as light as it is- it will sting initially but can not bruise!” When Michelle said that, the boy, who was in back of the room checking out the computers, turned his head and smirked.

But the lady was not impressed and responded,” In St.Paul, Minnesota, where we are from…the abuse of school children is illegal!”

“Then why don’t you just opt out?” exclaimed Michelle who looked like she was enduring a paddling herself.

“I’m not about “opting out” but rather-Transforming society…Here, read this!” the lady replied as she handed Michelle a booklet titled Plain Talk About Spanking.

“Keep it, Ma’am…As a professional educator, I am familiar with these arguments…But as a teacher, I do not get to make policy- the school board does…But I’ll be glad to do the opt-out paperwork for you,” Michelle politely proposed.

“Never mind!…I should have known how “professionals” like you think!…Here…Read this…” the lady snorted as she handed a flier to a distressed Michelle and stormed out with her son in tow, nearly walking over me on her way out the door.

I then walked in to a Michelle in tears as she looked at the flier, shaking her head. The flier had an image of a male figure holding a paddle with both hands readying to swing it like a baseball bat towards the figure of a young girl in mini-skirt bent over a chair. The printed words on the flier compared teachers who use paddles to porn stars and prostitutes. And our sweet Michelle was just devastated after the confrontation.

“Honey dear…do not let that garbage hurt you!…I know what you are really about…The kindest teacher I’ve ever known…Don’t let it get to you!” I gently spoke while hugging a crying young lady.

“Is it really worth it?…Why bother?…I have always avoided using the paddle unless a suspension is the only alternative …and only if the parents haven’t opted out…And you know me, Renee…I would rather BE bruised than any of my students…” wailed a teary Michelle.

“I know, dear and people like whatshername are the reason we…You,me,Jenny, and Wendy…have all decided to write that blog we first talked about last spring…To tell our side of the story because people need to hear the truth about discipline in school…and who better to write the blog than real teachers like us…Right, Michelle?” I firmly spoke while squeezing her arms.

Michelle then brightened up and smiled as she replied,”Lets do it!…And show those ***** a thing or two!”

Ahh…our dear sweet Michelle…when she reverts to her college cheerleader persona…there is NO denying her…so look out, you P.T.A.V.E. fanatics- An Alabama ex-cheerleader is on the warpath!

STORY UPDATE

After the confrontation, Michelle and I “opted out” Matt from corporal punishment as school policy allowed us to do- with the approval of Mr.Smith, our principal. We also decided that Matt should be reassigned to another teacher since he probably lost all respect for Michelle after hearing the encounter.

Being assigned to Jenny next door was believed to be the best answer but Matt proved otherwise. This boy turned out to be the most difficult student Jenny had ever dealt with. Not only could he not follow the simplest instructions but was defiant and surly on a daily basis. From not coming in from recess with everyone else to walking out the room to the restroom w/o asking to just leaving the class for lunch w/o lining up with the rest of the class. This was a daily grind with Matt and his mother never tried to work with us on anything.

Thank goodness for our principal, Mr. Smith, who put his foot down when Matt tried to hide out from coming in from recess one day. That resulted in immediate suspension for five days and when Matt’s mom refused to pick him up that morning, Matt got a one-way ride by the county truancy officer straight home. Despite his mom’s formal complaint, the school board solidly backed our principal in the matter. Even the other kids disliked Matt after a while and ostracized him which should demonstrate that our kids know the difference between right and wrong.

A short time ago, Matt went too far- again- and this time was assigned to a self-contained class. The class is for Conduct Disordered students and is at the middle school which has the only such program in the county. We all feel a sense of failure but had no choice. A few days ago, we heard that Matt and his mother are moving back north- We all just hope that both Matt AND his mother get help, because they BOTH need it!

***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT***

We at TWP have been flattered by the interest in our blog post A TEACHER’S PADDLING: THE OTHER END and are gratified that you, our readers, have studied it so closely. However, the purpose of this blog cannot be met by just one post. Therefore, we urge all our readers to study ALL of our posts- That way, you get the benefit of our perspectives on a wide range of issues dealing with corporal punishment in school.

On the other hand, if a cluster of readers only visit our blog for just that one post mentioned above-then we may decide to deactivate that post. This will not happen until the 21st of November, at the earliest. But, that will not happen if we detect improved traffic on our other posts. Of course, this announcement in no way effects any of our other posts which are all intended for you- our dear readers!

COMING NEXT: HOW JENNY HANDLED A PARENT’S PADDLING COMPLAINT

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