Published June 24, 2010
Unruly students have turned some Memphis classrooms into war zones where teachers have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks, according to a school board commissioner who has introduced a resolution to reinstate corporal punishment.
“Teachers, for several years now, have been increasingly agitated by the lack of classroom discipline,” said School Board Commissioner Kenneth Whalum. “It’s out of hand, man.”
Memphis city schools banned corporal punishment five years ago. Since then, according to Whalum, teachers have been subjected to out-of-control kids. “They are being abused,” he said. “Teachers have been hospitalized after getting attacked by middle schoolers. It’s a war zone.”
School Superintendent Kriner Cash declined to discuss the issue. The resolution will be considered next month by the school board. Whalum, who only received support from Commissioner Sharon Webb, admits it will be a tough sell. “The proposal doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing,” he told Fox News Radio.
But he hopes that teachers understand they need to step up and speak up about the troubles in the city school system. Whalum’s resolution has generated a heated debate along the banks of the Mississippi River. “Bringing corporal punishment back to the city schools is a good way to bring discipline to kids who desperately need it,” said Greg Nelson of Cordova. “There is nothing wrong with spanking for discipline. After all, it is Biblical and there is nothing wrong with that.”
But the Center for Effective Discipline disagrees with that assessment. The Ohio-based organization wants to abolish corporal punishment. According to the center's research, 20 states, mostly in the South, still have some form of corporal punishment.
Wendi C. Thomas, a columnist for The Commercial Appeal, addressed the controversy in a recent column titled, “Spare the rod, save it for the parents.” Schools “should not be in the beating business,” she wrote, suggesting that parents need to do a better job of parenting. “Personal and parental responsibility is what's needed, not paddles for principals.”
The debate is also about to get underway on the national level. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) is expected to introduce a bill on Tuesday that would institute a federal ban on corporal punishment in all American schools.
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