Commentary: Corporal punishment has no place in Texas schools

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 8, 2011 

If a student breaks the rules, shows disrespect or disrupts class, and a school official reacts with a swatting, what lesson does that teach?

That physical violence is an appropriate response to bad behavior.

That it's acceptable for people in authority to inflict pain on those over whom they have power.

That adults can get away with actions toward minors that they couldn't toward other adults.

None of those lessons are conducive to academic progress, and none teach self-control, discipline and responsibility.

Why, then, does Texas allow public schools to use hitting students as punishment for acting up?

It's an antiquated technique that's largely ineffective, potentially destructive and incongruous in an age when schools are preaching so vociferously against bullying.

State Rep. Alma Allen, a retired principal from Houston, has again filed an anti-paddling bill, HB916.

Rep. Diane Patrick, an Arlington Republican, is listed as a co-author.

The measure ought to get more attention than did a federal proposal last year to end corporal punishment: Filed in June, that bill never even received a hearing.

The U.S. House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities did take testimony on the issue in April 2010, though.

At that hearing, Colorado high school Principal Jana Frieler said schools should provide a positive, supportive environment, with clear expectations about student conduct and fair consequences rather than punitive ones.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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