Thursday, November 29, 2007

All a'swirl...


Last night and today have been a flurry of activity and emotions.

I generally talk to my mom daily, and last night she broke some infuriating and disturbing news. It seems the principal of the high school from which I graduated is being investigated for the excessive use of force on a student whom he paddled for a dress code violation. The school district allows corporal punishment with a guardian's permission, but there is a great deal of awkward circumstance surrounding this particular incident. The bottom line is that the 15-year-old on the receiving end of the principal's paddle walked away (barely) with visible injury that is documented.

I have to tell you, I'm furious on a number of levels. First, I hate that this could happen to any kid in a place that should be considered a safe, protected environment. Second, as an alumna of the high school, it's a shame that the principal (whom I think should lose his job and perhaps his teaching license) is bringing such horrible press to an otherwise upstanding district. Finally, as an educator, I get angry when someone doesn't take his or her professional responsibility as seriously as I do. There were some major breaches in policy and procedure, despite the school system's claims, and no educator should ever hurt someone under their charge. Use some common sense.

I know all of the educators and administrators involved in this incident (the current principal was my government teacher and a colleague of mine in the community college system, and the current superintendent was my elementary school P.E. teacher), and I can only say that it's the most serious incident in a long line of ill-made decisions. I can only hope the school board sits up, takes notice, and cleans house.

I would post links to several of the major Dallas papers carrying the story so you could get a full understanding of the seriousness of this situation, but I do try to maintain a particularl level of privacy for myself here as far as my location goes, etc.

However, I can assure you, as a well respected alumna, long-time resident, and concerned citizen who still holds residence, I will be writing a stern letter of expectation to the school board to remind them that they have an important decision on their hands and even those of us who have moved on are watching and waiting for suitable action. In reality, I may not be able to make a damn bit of difference, but I cannot and will not allow something so serious to float by without making myself heard. I can only hope others will do the same.

11 comments:

  1. I'm amazed that this could happen. In the UK teachers aren't allowed to touch children in any way. It goes a bit too far in the other direction, in fact, with them being forbidden from putting sunscreen on children and so on. But it is quite extraordinary that discipline of that kind could even be contemplated.

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  2. Wow. Where to begin. I have never had a problem with spanking. They did it in my school, and trust me. It worked. They don't allow it in the schools around here. Not that I would like it if they did. But sometimes kids need a firm hand. BUT for a DRESS CODE violation?? That is completely insane! What was this guy thinking??

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  3. Litlove, it's a reasonably popular form of discipline (even in schools) in the southern USA and even the southwest, where I grew up. I was a product of corporal punishment...on the receiving end of my share of spankings and whatnot. It's one of those weird issues that flies under the radar in this area a lot and is pretty well supported if handled with care, but this guy is just nuts.

    Stephanie, I'm not really opposed to spanking either, but to this extreme and for a dress code violation....NO WAY. It was inflicted on a few of my classmates in school (boys only) for fighting and stuff, but never like this.

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  4. This certainly didn't go the direction I had hoped for when I saw the picture...

    I agree with you to a degree, but for a dress code violation?? Then again, having grown up in an era of more strict discipline, and teaching during the days when that all seemed to melt away, I can understand the frustration of dealing with a student who thinks they can get away with anything they want and not suffer any consequences. Of course, in the old days, it was the parent that was wielding the paddle!

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  5. Yeah, I don't think it's appropriate AT ALL for a dress code violation. In my day it was saved for those special occasions when there was bloodshed in the hall between classes.

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  6. Wow, I didn't know schools still did that.

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  7. That is awful! What was the student wearing that the principal thought corporal punishment was appropriate?! To be honest I'm not sure how I feel about corporal punishment but for dress code violation, well it's just extreme. I'm glad you are writing them a letter. Hopefully a lot of people will react and try to get something done.

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  8. It is sad that things like that are still happening. It seems like most of the school news in the part of the country I live in involves sexual abuse of students by teachers. While false reports do happen, it is very disturbing to hear stories like that crop up.

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  9. I have never attended school in, worked in, or heard of a U.S. school that used corporal punishment. Even when I was in school, it was completely outdated. But then again, I haven't lived in the south, and that's where you say this happened, right? Amazing.

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  10. Dewey, I should also probably point out that corporal punishment is not the first means of discipline in this or any other southern school I'm aware of. This particular punishment was an alternative to a night-school type of detention. The kid couldn't serve it, so he was paddled instead. Still, a crazy, riduculous outcome.

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  11. As much as I joked, when I was a teacher, that if we had corporal punishment, we could straighten out all our problems within a year, in reality, it's an astoundingly bad idea. Yes, okay at home within limits. Not at school.

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