Friday, February 23, 2018

The Board of Education

Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 21:10
This news item was posted in Education category.
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Some people feel that when teachers had the practical board of education, the paddle, there was much less classroom disruption and thus schools were much more houses of learning.  The contemporary educational establishment proposes solutions they deem better, and so they delegate oversight to boards of education to make sure that administrators, teachers, and other school personnel are responsible for behavioral problems.  But is corporal punishment helpful in cultivating classroom discipline? Can it have a positive effect in cultivating positive behavior in individual students?

One side of the argument suggests educators be empowered with every effective means of not only disciplining classrooms, but instilling self-discipline in students, while the other side maintains that paddling or other forms of corporal punishment only tend to create negative behavior and lasting psychological damage to the young minds and should be banned.

The United States is the only nation in the western world, which still permits corporal punishment in its schools with twenty states still allowing the use of it. Canada banned corporal punishment in 2004. No European country permits corporal punishment. So far, the United States Congress has not acted on requests from organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union to enact federal legislation banning corporal punishment. Since education is widely viewed as a local and state matter, any further banning of corporal punishment will probably have to occur at that level. (Robert Kennedy, “2 Reasons for Banning Corporeal Punishment,” Guide).

Evangelical Christian schools use the board of education, the paddle, much more than secular schools.  Progressive and liberal thinkers frown upon corporal punishment.  The general tone of the more liberal domain is that rewarding good behavior produces better behavior than punishing bad behavior, and this perspective has become dominant in most of the Western world.

Those who advocate spanking for bad behavior, however, also applaud rewarding good behavior and even wish to point out that it becomes its own reward. From the more traditional Christian understanding we can not only look to particular verses in the Bible, but the over all biblical theme of the cultivation of discipline. Verses in particular such as Proverbs 23:13-14 speak very directly and they state:  “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”  Proverbs13:24 points out that: “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.”

From the New Testament Hebrews 12:5-7 says, And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”

In the Bible “chastisement” is a vital teaching.  The Holman Bible Dictionary says chastisement “refers to an act of punishment intended to change behavior.”  It is brought out that one of the uses is “to instruct a discipline.”  The Holman dictionary states: “The climatic Old Testament word for chastisement is that of the Suffering Servant, who has born our chastisement, so that we might not have to suffer it (Isa. 53:5).” And that “Ultimately, chastisement shows God’s love for the one chastised (Rev. 3:19).  He seeks to lead us away from the eternal chastisement  (I Cor. 11:32, Heb. 12:10).” Here is a closure, and paddling can provide this!

It is not only the influences of prayer and the Bible that have been removed from the public school arena, but corporal punishment as well, and it can be very much observed that since parents have abandoned these too, the schools have proved very inadequate in the development of positive discipline. The society at large has declined so much that youth violence has greatly increased.  Even some have referred to the public schools in America as a “war zone.”

I taught in the public schools for twenty-six years, and I found that when the board of education, the paddle, was rightly used, it was helpful in the cultivation of discipline for many students and in setting the discipline in the classroom. Paddling should not be the first line of punishment, for there are many means that can be used before the use of the paddle.  However, there are proper ways to use the paddle in corporal punishment.

Once I paddled my own son because he needed it. A teacher came to my room and told me that she had tried all kinds to ways to get my son to do his homework and that she told him if he didn’t do it next time he was going to be paddled.  I thanked her and asked if I could administer the paddling.  She approved, and I gave him three good solid licks, heavier than she could have administered I felt.  I hoped this would help him to see the errors of his way and motivate him to do what he ought to do.

There was an article in the Time-Picayune paper, February 24, 2011 about how the alumni of the Saint Augustine High School in New Orleans alumni took the microphone near half-court in the school’s packed gymnasium to support corporal punishment in the Catholic school.  The article said that: “They had graduated as long ago as 1960 and as recently as just as few years.  But almost to a man they recalled one paddling at the hands of a Saint Augustine teacher that turned them around.”

The movement in our contemporary education is increasingly becoming a pattern to resolve problem behavior in the classroom not with the “board of education,” the paddle, which sometimes might be necessary, but to resolve by bringing the classroom issues before the county or city Board of Education.   I hope my paddle, Old Sam, given to me by a student, has helped many students get their lives in order.  I have some questions about just how well the modern day issues that are brought before many boards of education are really going to turn out.

by Joe Renfro, Ed.D., Educational Columnist, Radio Evangelist, Retired Teacher and Pastor, Box 751, Lavonia, Georgia 30553, 706-356-4173,


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