TX Leads The Nation in Paddling

By: Eric Dexheimer - Austin American Statesman Email
By: Eric Dexheimer - Austin American Statesman Email

Another dubious distinction for Texas: Teachers and school administrators hit more students than in any other state.

That bit of news comes courtesy of “Impairing Education,” a new report from Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Based on numbers compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, the report, which you can read here, discovered that disabled students were disciplined disproportionately to their numbers: “Students with disabilities … made up 18.8 percent of those who received corporal punishment, even though they constitute just 13.7 percent of the nationwide student population.”

Texas is one of only 20 states that still permits corporal punishment. The main reason for its standing as primary paddler is, of course, its size. In terms of spankings-per-student, Texas ranks only 8th, behind Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Georgia. (Basically, the SEC, with the exception of Oklahoma.)

But that’s still 49,157 instances of paddling reported during the course of the 2006-07 school year — just under 300 per school day. Of those cases, 10,222 blows were administered to students with disabilities, according to the report.

The report is also sprinkled with harrowing anecdotes leading to its conclusion that little good — and, occasionally, great harm — results when educators smack students. Here’s one from Texas:

“Charles B., the father of an 11-year-old Texas boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, described a paddling his son received in early 2009: The first swat knocked [my son] down … when he fell, the principal said he had five seconds to get back up, or he’d start all over again … it probably took him a minute and a half to get up again. They gave him two more swats. Then the principal had to go to the nurse’s office to get the asthma inhaler, [my son] couldn’t breathe … When he came home from school, my wife found the marks on him. When I came home at 8 [p.m.], we went to the sheriff’s office. He had severe bruising on his buttocks and on his lower back. His butt was just covered.”

The report also contains this Texas-related information: “The paddle used to hit children is typically around 15 inches long, between two and four inches wide, and one-half inch thick, with a six-inch handle at one end. One former teacher in Texas told the ACLU and Human Rights Watch that he found shaved down baseball bats that were being used as paddles.”

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