Spankings and firm discipline resurrected

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Among the many stories regarding corporal punishment in schools that have been popping up as of late, there are reports that some school leaders have had it with unruly students and are resurrecting some time-honored ways of dealing with them.

In Twiggs County, Georgia, the school board has reinstated its corporal punishment policy after banning it two years ago. After 300 misconduct incidents and 62 fights among its 1,100 students last year alone, compounded by high numbers of teachers choosing to leave rather than continue to teach, the board decided that more draconian measures were in order. Paddling is now legal, provided that parents give permission and a witness is present.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal wants to amend Louisiana?s teacher bill of rights in order to protect teachers from "frivolous lawsuits" resulting from teachers trying to discipline students. The bill also gives teachers the right to use, in the words of the proposed amendment, "appropriate discipline" and to be free from "excessively burdensome disciplinary paperwork." Add this vague wording to a state that allows corporal punishment and ? let?s just say more paddles will be getting a workout.

Perhaps we needn?t fear that these policies will lack thoughtful deliberation or execution. For example, Lynne Donahoo, principal of Burghard Elementary School in Macon, Georgia, claims to be very cautious about paddling, refusing to paddle special education students or students who have not yet reached first grade. But once they do, watch out! "Sometimes these little ones are hardheaded," said Donahoo. "And you have to show them you mean business."