Bill Targets Corporal Punishment in Texas
The years-long battle over corporal punishment in Texas schools is revving up again in this year's Legislature. State Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) has filed a bill that would change the Texas education code to bar any school employee from administering corporal punishment, including spanking, hitting or paddling, to students. Jimmy Dunne with the Houston group People Opposed to Paddling Students has been fighting this battle for years. "School paddling is nothing but legalized child abuse," he tells KTRH. "It's wrong to hit kids with boards and it leaves big bruises on their buttocks, plus it also teaches them to hit which adds to our violence."
Dunne says corporal punishment is still a major issue in districts across Texas, although many people don't realize it. "Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio no longer paddle, but it still goes on in the small towns of West Texas, North Texas, East Texas." He says there are much better and more effective alternatives to paddling students. "In-school detention, after-school detention, conferences with parents, other things like that that are non-violent." In years past, efforts to ban corporal punishment have met with resistance from some who say it takes away "local control" from school districts.
Rep. Allen, who is the vice-chair of the House Education Committee, is also a former schoolteacher and principal who has championed the issue for years. In 2011, the Legislature passed her bill that allows parents to opt their students out of corporal punishment in writing, but this year's measure would go a step further. Dunne is hopeful it will pass. "It's something that will make (lawmakers) feel good for the rest of their life, and it's not gonna cost the state one red nickel." He adds that 31 states have already abolished corporal punishment in schools.