Ban on corporal punishment in Texas schools faces House hearing

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 16, 2011 

AUSTIN — A House committee heard pleas Tuesday to ban corporal punishment in Texas schools, with critics denouncing the disciplinary tool as a legalized form of child abuse that leaves lasting emotional scars.

Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, who spent nearly four decades in the Houston system school system, is pushing legislation that would ban paddling in schools. One of Allen's leading allies is Rep. Barbara Nash, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Arlington and a former member of the Arlington school board.

"There's enough violence in the world without it coming into your schools," Nash said.

Nash and Allen sit next to each other in the House and teamed up after discovering they share the goal of outlawing corporal punishment.

Nash is a joint author of the proposed ban.

A two-part series in the Star-Telegram this month examined corporal punishment in Texas, one of 20 states that allow school officials to paddle students. More than a dozen opponents of the practice gathered at a rally before the hearing, circulating graphic pictures of paddling injuries.

"Get rid of the paddles," Jimmy Dunne of Houston told members of the House Education Committee. Dunne is a 76-year-old former Houston schoolteacher who founded People Opposed to Paddling three decades ago after he witnessed the paddling of an 11-year-old student.

The two-hour hearing focused on two bills sponsored by Allen.

HB916 calls for a complete ban. HB359, which Allen is offering as a compromise alternative if HB916 stalls, would allow administrators to use corporal punishment only if they first receive a written, signed consent from the parent.

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