Sunday, September 25, 2005


Newsday reports that in New York state's public schools, instances of corporal punishment continue to be inflicted upon students in spite of a twenty-year old statewide ban:
Formal reports of corporal punishment, which has been prohibited in New York's classrooms for two decades, more than doubled over the past five years to 4,223 in 2004, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

The number of accusations, including the verified case of a child exiled into the winter cold without shoes or a coat, climbed even as far fewer school districts submitted the state-mandated, twice-a-year reports on corporal punishment. In 1999, 283 reports were not filed from among the state's 832 school districts. In 2004, the number of reports not filed was 1,203.

New York's schools, with about 3 million students, have had to report incidents of corporal punishment since 1985.

Many cases verified by school districts involve faculty or staff pushing, slapping, and grabbing the faces or arms of students. The documented cases include a teacher who put a misbehaving student outside to cool off, without a jacket or shoes, in December. Another tackled a student as he reached for a pencil on the floor. One teacher bent a student's finger backward, several have taped students' mouths shut, and in New York City, 646 cases of corporal punishment were documented in the spring 2004 semester alone.

The records also show that school district action against teachers, substitute teachers, bus drivers, teacher aides, lunch monitors and other employees meting out corporal punishment varied widely. Most received counseling from an administrator or a memo in their personnel files. A few were fired.

For example: The teacher who put the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES student out in the 32-degree day for eight to 10 minutes faced a "counseling session ... about appropriate expectations with action plan." The tackling teacher from Orange County's Pine Bush schools was suspended for six months with pay and had to complete online classes in classroom management. The teachers who taped students' mouths shut received counseling memos for their personnel files and one was suspended. The finger-bending teacher from Owego-Appalachin schools received a personnel file letter.
There is more to read in the whole piece.

I can still feel my rear-end stinging after my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Croft, swatted my bottom with a ping-pong paddle for something that another kid had done. And I've never forgotten the three swats that Mr. Sheehan gave me in sixth grade for calling another student a "jackass" while we were on the school bus.
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