This screen grab came from a video of two Jasper County educators paddling a 5-year-old. Posted online by the child’s mother, the video created a national furor.

U.S. education chief to schools: Stop corporal punishment

Federal education officials are pleading with school districts, including some in Georgia, to stop using corporal punishment as a means of student discipline.

U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. sent a letter Tuesday to governors and school leaders making his case that corporal punishment, which can include paddling or spanking, is ineffective. He cited statistics he says show it doesn’t improve student performance and can lead to long-term mental health issues. He also argued it’s used disproportionately against students who are African-American or have a disability.

“This practice has no place in the public schools of a modern nation that plays such an essential role in the advancement and protection of civil and human rights,” King wrote.

King’s letter does not suggest penalties to schools that continue to use corporal punishment. News accounts have reported that President-elect Donald Trump is considering different candidates for education secretary. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called on Trump to end corporal punishment during a conference call with reporters Monday.

In Georgia, about 1 in 8 public schools use corporal punishment, according to state Education Department data on nearly 6,000 students last school year. Most Georgia school districts that use corporal punishment are in rural parts of the state. None of metro Atlanta’s school districts employ such measures.

Some Georgia educators told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a recent article about corporal punishment that some high school students would rather take a spanking over an in-school suspension. Some parents, the educators say, ask teachers to spank their children for household transgressions.

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