This spring, the Texas state legislature was under a Texas Supreme Court mandate to change the manner in which the public schools were funded. Although the focus would be on how Texas pays for public education, a number of legislators were hoping to use the special session to address how Texas educates its students.
Robert Duncan (R – Lubbock) was one member of the House that wanted to examine how Texas spends its money, and is the state spending it on things that work for kids. One area of concern of his was school discipline. In an interview with Bared Affair, he stated, “I think we need to re-examine the use of In School Suspension, or ISS. When I was a student and you misbehaved, if you were punished during school hours, you got paddled. Misbehavior meant missing 15 minutes tops of class time. Some teachers gave detention, but at least with d-hall, the students were being punished on their time, not the school’s time.
A small selection of paddles, which could be brought back into use at the schools adopting the new option.
“I’m also concerned about the cost to the taxpayer,” Duncan continued. “A paddle costs maybe ten bucks. An ISS monitor costs around twenty thousand, plus benefits. With roughly 7,500 schools in Texas, the taxpayers are shelling out around $150 MILLION dollars a year just to punish misbehaving students! Personally, I find that to be outrageous.”
Other members of the legislature agreed with Mr. Duncan. Representative Eddie Lucio (D – Brownsville) and Senator Judith Zaffarini (D – Del Rio) requested that the Texas Education Agency compare testing data between schools that primarily paddle versus those who have banned corporal punishment. Mrs. Zaffarini stated to Bared Affair, “It would be nice to save the taxpayers $150 million a year or to use that money to buy educational materials for our students. However, before we can pass legislation to boost the use of the paddle and perhaps do away with ISS, we’re going to have to show that paddling has a greater positive impact on student achievement than ISS. I know that when I was a student growing up in the Valley, I worked hard to avoid the paddle at my school, and most of the kids I grew up with did the same. We didn’t have ISS, but if we did, I don’t think I would have viewed it as a big deal. Also, it makes sense to me that students are going to learn a whole lot more if they’re sitting in the classroom rather than sitting in ISS.”
Shirley Neely, Texas Education Commissioner, agreed to provide the information requested by the legislators. “The difficult part,” she said, “was making sure we were comparing apples to apples. We had to find districts that rely almost exclusively on the paddle, measure their demographics and then find districts that matched up demographically that don’t paddle at all.”
Two of the districts in the study were Jourdanton and Lytle. Jourdanton relies almost entirely on the paddle for student discipline. In fact, the only way to avoid corporal punishment (besides following the rules) is to have a note from a doctor giving a medical reason why a child should not be paddled. Lytle used to paddle but gave it up several years ago, because that seemed to be the trend in school discipline, according to Superintendent Al Smith.
Demographically, the two schools are very similar in the socio-economic and ethnic make-up of their students. Although both districts have met state accountability standards, Jourdanton has consistently rated higher across all exams and grade levels.
Bared Affair asked Jourdanton Superintendent John Hirsch for his opinion on why his district out-performed similar districts that don’t use the paddle.
“First of all,” Dr. Hirsch stated, “we have few discipline problems because we nip them in the bud. Every teacher who wants a paddle in his or her classroom is issued one. At the same time, we have guidelines in place to prevent abuse. For examples, girls may only be paddled by a female with another female as the witness. Boys may only be paddled by a male, and if the boy desires it, the witness will also be a male. Teachers are required to document every time they paddle, giving the student’s name, the reason, and the number of licks. We have a paddling review board on each campus that examines these paddling records on a regular basis. At the beginning of each school year, each teacher requesting a paddle for classroom use must go through inservice training on how to paddle. We have teachers who have been in the business for over 25 years, but they have to go through the same training each year as if they were a first year teacher.
“On the surface, an outsider might think we’re a “paddle-happy” district, but actually, paddlings are not given all that frequently. Students know what will happen if they misbehave, so the vast majority choose to do what’s right. And for the few that make bad choices, we firmly believe that a properly administered paddling will give them much more incentive to do what is right than a couple of day’s holiday in in-school suspension.” Dr. Hirsch concluded.
Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D – San Antonio) was not surprised by what the TEA found. Mrs. Van de Putte told Bared Affair, “When I was growing up, my parents told my siblings and me each year that if we got paddled at school, we were guaranteed a much worse spanking when we got home. My older sister found out the hard way my parents weren’t joking. She told me as we were walking home from junior high one day that she had been paddled by her English teacher for putting on make-up in class. Mama met us at the door with her hairbrush in hand. I learned through my sister’s spankings to make sure I always minded the teachers.
“When I think about it now as an adult, it’s hard to believe my sister got paddled over putting on make-up. When I talk to teachers, putting on make-up in class seems to be the least of their behavior worries. Maybe because the schools in my day paddled for little things, the big things never happened. This is why I fully intend to support legislation that will encourage the use of corporal punishment over in-school suspension,” she concluded.
One question these legislators will have to face is will Texans support an increase in corporal punishment in the school. Michael Edmonds is the chairman of the Texas chapter of Save Our Kids Behinds. SOKB is strictly opposed to paddling students. However, when Edmonds saw that the taxpayers were spending 150 million a year to save kids’ behinds, he said he was willing to rethink his views on paddling. The fact that paddling schools seem to outperform their non-paddling peers made him further inclined not to oppose an increase in the use of corporal punishment.
Texas voters will go to the polls in November. Although the entire House and one-third of the Senate is up for election, it is doubtful that any voters will know how the candidates feel about the use of corporal punishment in the public schools. But come January, if certain members of the legislature have their way, Texas schools will be shutting the doors to ISS and breaking out the paddles.
A young lady sent to the principal's office after the new legislation had been brought in. I don't think she got to vote. I know what her vote would have been.
Further examples of Beth's articles and her stories can be found at: http://www.spankinglibrary.co.cc/ under the name beth83.