Texas City Brings Paddling Back to Schools

Flickr/ <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/1014497362/">Wesley Fryer</a> (Creative Commons)

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Corporal punishment is unlawful in federal prisons, but it’s still allowed at schools in some 20 states, including Texas where one town has brought back the paddle, the Washington Post reports. A blue-collar community of 60,000 people, Temple, Texas, banned paddling six years ago only to revive its use in the town’s 14 schools last May after a unanimous board vote. Parents supported the measure, and in fact encouraged the school board to reconsider the paddling policy because many Temple parents who paddle their children at home wanted consistent discipline in the classroom.

“We’re rural central Texas,” Temple’s assistant superintendent of administration for schools, John Hancock, told the Post‘s Michael Birnbaum. “We’re very well educated, but still there are those core values. Churches are full on Sundays… this is a tool we’d like in the toolbox for responding to discipline issues.” Temple school board president Steve Wright claims that behavior at the town’s lone high school has improved dramatically since paddling made its return. Fear of the paddle is as much a disciplinary deterrent as the controlled beating itself, some Temple residents argue. 

At least one congresswoman from New York disagrees. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy recently led a Congressional hearing on paddling in schools, and plans to introduce federal legislation inside a month that will ban the practice nationally. McCarthy’s leadership on this issue could not come sooner. A joint ACLU and Human Rights Watch report from last year found that students with disabilities receive the brunt of the corporal punishment doled out in schools and are sometimes beaten or restrained to control behavioral problems stemming directly from their disabilities.

In spite of what Temple believes, nonviolent forms of behavior control do exist. Many educators and psychologists say positive reinforcement, like praising students for good behavior, and withholding praise for bad, are the most effective methods for curbing misbehaviors. Positive reinforcements “encourage [students] to behave well in the future,” ACLU/HRW study author Alice Farmer told the Post. Paddling “makes students lose respect for their teachers.”

 

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.