On Tuesday one school district in Texas has brought back corporal punishment. Now students who misbehave in class will be paddled until they get better grades. Although there is little evidence that corporal punishment helps students focus better or improve their test scores, the Three Rivers Independent School board of trustees in south Texas think it will help. They are now shipping paddles to their teachers to be used as corporal punishment when students misbehave. And the teachers really need the device to control their students.
The Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) defines corporal punishment as “deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline.” The school district hopes that paddling will help improve classroom behavior so students can retain more information and improve the district’s falling test scores.
Although many parents are eager to get their kids signed up for the more aggressive in-school disciplinary action, parents are given the opportunity to opt in or opt out. They need to provide both written and verbal assent if they want their children paddled in the classroom. And many parents are signing up.
When parents approve the school’s disciplinary measure, the students “will receive one paddling for his or her infraction when they misbehave at school.”
The school district wants to give parents the opportunity to have their children paddled in class. They’re not forcing them to do it.
“If the parent is not comfortable with it, that’s the end of the discussion,” the school district’s superintendent Mary Springs told the Caller-Times.
Now when students disobey a teacher or break classroom rules, they’ll be paddled. Three Rivers Elementary School campus behavior coordinator, Andrew Amaro, is excited to bring back paddling. He pitched the idea to the school officials and told them that when he grew up paddling was used to great effect. He claims it is better than giving students detention or suspension.
“I believe it worked,” Amaro told the Caller-Times when asked about being paddled as a child. “It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.”
Opposition to corporal punishment point to statistics that show students of color are disproportionally likely to receive a paddling.
Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr wrote a letter asking states to ban corporal punishment. But 22 states still allow it in their schools.
“Approximately 40,000 — or more than one-third — of those students who were subjected to corporal punishment are black; black students, by comparison, make up only 16 percent of the total public school student population,” King wrote. “Similarly, in states where students were subjected to corporal punishment, black boys were 1.8 times as likely as white boys to be subject to corporal punishment, and black girls were 2.9 times as likely as white girls to be subject to corporal punishment.”