3. MISSION STATEMENT & Other Things

PRIME STATEMENT: No teacher, who is a true professional educator, seeks or desires to use corporal punishment in school discipline as a means of enforcing classroom order. Teachers, as college educated professionals, only want to teach and and do not want the added job of disciplinarian. That job should be the responsibility of the parents- teaching proper behavior and conduct to their children before school age. However, accountability for willful and defiant classroom misbehavior must always rest with the individual pupil.

1ST STATEMENT: The locally elected school board, as representatives of the local community, should always be the source of school discipline policy- never the federal or state government.

2ND STATEMENT: The elected school board, in accordance with state enabling laws, should have the legal right to enact school discipline policies, including the use of corporal punishment.

3RD STATEMENT: The administration of corporal punishment in school must always be in a judicious, moderate, and sparing manner.

 

3 TRUE STORIES

One December 2000 morning in Sadine Parish in rural Louisiana , 11 year old Meegan was tripped in a breakfast line at the cafeteria and responded by elbowing the other girl in the back. Minutes later, Meegan was subjected to a paddling by Mrs. Judy Rials, Zwolle Elementary School’s principal. The paddling with a 16″ board was so severe that Meegan was bruised for about a week. After the legal battles, Mrs. Rials was removed from her job as principal and was reassigned, along with a teacher, to a position as Technology Education Coordinator.

On a spring day in 2007, a 4th grade boy at Algood Elementary School in Putnam County, Tennessee violated a school rule and was paddled by his principal, Ms. Leann Taylor. The paddling left bruises and the parents filed charges. During the investigation, Ms. Taylor was reassigned to the central office but was reinstated a few weeks later after no wrongdoing was found by Children’s Services or the D.A.

In April of 2002 at Monahoo Elementary School, a disruptive 11 year old was removed from class. After getting permission from the grandparents, Mr. David Haas, who was standing in for the absent principal, paddled the boy 3 times. The paddling resulted in bruises and in the aftermath of the grandparent’s complaints, the Sheldon Independent School District abolished all corporal punishment.

All three stories are real life and can be found in our blogroll link under corporal punishment research at http://www.corpun.com. As in real life, there are real consequences when a paddling goes “out of bounds.” In the first, Mrs. Judy Rials, who was a veteran educator with years of experience, will spend the rest of her career as a central office staffer and will most likely never see a classroom or principal’s office in an official role again. Our second example, Ms. Leann Taylor, was reinstated as principal but will forever have her professional educational career blemished by one incident. Lastly, Mr. David Haas will be remembered by the other teachers in the Sheldon District as the teacher who “caused” the total district ban on corporal punishment.

All three stories have one thing in common: the outcomes did not have to happen. With some foresight and sound policy guidelines, the negative results of those paddlings would have been avoided. THAT is the purpose of this blog. If they were able to do a “redo,” all three educators certainly would do so. If you look back at 3RD STATEMENT, you will see the words JUDICIOUS, MODERATE, and SPARING. Those words are key to understanding what we at TWP are all about.

JUDICIOUS

All school discipline must be consistent, fair, and firm if it is to be effective. Whatever the rules, they must apply to everyone and be enforced the same way regardless of who the student is. If educators want their charges to respect the rules, the most popular or the athlete must be seen as under the same rules as the nerd, geek, etc. Also, the same rules must be enforced day in and day out, without fail. That is where fairness becomes a part of the process. When those conditions are achieved, it can be said the the discipline policy is JUDICIOUS.

MODERATE

In the three stories above, the discipline meted out was extreme and severe and had consequences for the educators that will affect their careers for so long as they are in the profession. The specific requirements for moderation in discipline will be given in more detail on the next blog but can be summed up in two words:Implements and Technique. If an educator uses moderation, he/she will not use an inappropriately sized paddle nor an overpowering physical force in the administration of corporal punishment.

SPARING

The sparing use of corporal punishment is the hardest to define for most educators. Nearly all school districts say that corporal punishment is to be used as a “last resort” but nearly always leave exceptions for extreme behavior which is rarely defined. In the Sadine Parish incident above, it was discovered that Mrs. Judy Rials had paddled another pupil 17 times in eight weeks. That is a clear example of not using corporal punishment sparingly as well as the “first resort” usage in the case of the young girl. By using corporal punishment sparingly and never as a “first resort”, Mrs. Judy Rials might still be a principal today.

COMING SOON TO A COMPUTER NEAR YOU:

LEGAL ISSUES AND DEFINITIONS

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