Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bill to end school corporal punishment

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 2:46 PM

It's hard to imagine this will go anywhere, not with most of a Senate filibuster in the part of the country most likely to be opposed.

But Randy Cox of Little Rock, a social worker who's been a tireless advocate for ending corporal punishment in schools, has sent Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's news release about her bill to end the practice nationwide. Thirty states (not Arkansas) have already done so.

Corporal punishment has a negative effect on students. It's discriminatorily applied. It teaches children that violence is an effective problem solver — and, paradoxically, it is favored the older a child gets and the less likely he or she is to be influenced.

The legislation would work by denying federal money to schools that continued corporal punishment. The National PTA and the National Association of Secondary School Principals are among the supporters of the legislation.

Arkansas is a leader in whipping kids, even though the state's largest school districts have ended the practice.

From the Washington Post:

Almost 40 percent of all the cases of corporal punishment occur in districts in Texas (though not Houston) and Mississippi. Those states, along with Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, account for almost three-quarters of all the children receiving corporal punishment.

Who in Congress will step up to defend the violence? the Post blogger asks. Good starting place, I'd bet: The NRA-approved lawmakers.


Washington, DC—Today, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04) introduces the “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act,” legislation that aims to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools.

Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights shows that over 220,000 students in 20 states, in schools across the country are corporally punished, and studies indicate that corporal punishment in schools has a negative effect on students. Children of color and with disabilities experience corporal punishment at disproportionate rates. This legislation aims to alleviate this and promote positive school cultures and climates.

Additionally, data shows there is no evidence that corporal punishment is an effective disciplinary tool or that it results in academic success.

“I am introducing this legislation to addresses the damaging use of corporal punishment against our nation’s school children. This bill will eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools, as well as assist in creating a safer learning environment for every child ensuring that our schools are places that foster students’ growth and dignity,” said Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. "Twenty states still permit corporal punishment in public schools and studies indicate that this type of discipline has a negative effect on students. This legislation amends the General Education Provisions Act so that no funds for programs administered by the Department of Education shall be made available to any educational agency or institution that has a policy or practice which allows school personnel to inflict corporal punishment on a student.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (VA- 03) member of the Healthy Family and Children Subcommittee, and co-sponsor of this legislation highlights that racial disparities do exist with the use of corporal punishment.

“Thirty states across the country have already prohibited corporal punishment,” said Congressman Scott. “Corporal punishment does not work and in fact leads to increased negative behavior and dropout rates. Moreover, the fact that schools are applying school discipline policies in a discriminatory manner based on race, color, national origin, disability, or gender constitutes a civil rights violation.”

Congressman Phil Hare (IL-17) who has been a champion and supporter of innovative programs designed to teach positive behavior as a way to improve school climate, is also a co-sponsor of this legislation.

“Corporal punishment such as paddling and other physical abuse is reprehensible and should be banned immediately. It is time to move away from the old conventional wisdom that threatening and punishing a student will motivate them to achieve. Instead, we should transition to 21st century programs like school-wide positive behavior supports which encourage, reward, and breed good behavior from the beginning,” said Hare.

According to the Department of Education, while African Americans made up 17.1 percent of public school students nationwide, they accounted for 35.6 percent of those who were paddled during the 2006-2007 school year. Similarly, although students with disabilities constituted 13.7 percent of all public school students, they made up 18.8 percent of those who are subjected to corporal punishment. These students are often punished simply for behaviors arising out of their disabilities, such as autism or Tourette’s syndrome.

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers has been a long-time advocate against the use of corporal punishment in school supports this measure.

"Corporal punishment doesn't improve behavior or student performance. Rep. McCarthy's bill would end an outdated disciplinary practice,” said Weingarten.

Spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union, over 80 education and child advocate groups have signed a letter supporting this legislation.

“This important legislation would end the arcane practice of corporal punishment in schools. It is stunning to think children in some states receive greater protections against physical discipline in detention facilities than they do in classrooms,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act will help provide the safe, supportive academic environment all students deserve and need to achieve academic success.”
The National Parents Teachers Association (PTA) agrees that corporal punishment does not foster positive environments for students to thrive and grow.

“National PTA opposes the use of any violence in schools. National PTA supports federal efforts to abolish corporal punishment in schools and the development of alternative discipline programs, such as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) to provide for an orderly climate for learning. We applaud the efforts of Congresswoman McCarthy to abolish the use of corporal punishment in America’s schools and stand ready to assist in her efforts,” said Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors, National PTA President.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals says schools should find positive approaches to disciplining children.

“The National Association of Secondary School Principals has a long history of supporting the personalization of the school environment and student learning,” said NASSP President Jana Frieler, who is the principal of Overland High School in Aurora, Colorado and testified before the Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee in April. “We believe that school climate must be one that never tolerates violence but instead focuses on each student’s success and how the school can foster a proactive approach to discipline. For this reason, we are proud to support the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act and will work with Congress to ensure this important legislation is enacted into law.”

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