Feds urge Georgia, other states: Ban paddling in public schools

In one of its last national acts, the U.S. Department of Education under President Obama is attempting to break America’s habit of paddling its K-12 public school students.

The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to governors and chief state school officials this week urging them to end corporal punishment once and for all. The U.S. DOE cannot compel states to outlaw corporal punishment; it can only counsel against it. In a conference call with reporters Monday, Education Secretary John King condemned corporal punishment as “harmful, ineffective and often discriminatory” and “criminal assault and battery if experienced by adults.”

Research confirms corporal punishment is often used against African-American boys, a troubling fact King noted in his discussion with reporters. It is also disproportionally used against students with disabilities.

“No school can be considered safe or supportive if its students are fearful of being physically punished. We strongly urge states to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools– a practice that educators, civil rights advocates, medical professionals, and researchers agree is harmful to students and which the data show us unequivocally disproportionally impacts students of color and students with disabilities,” said King.

While 28 states and the District of Columbia have banned corporal punishment in their schools, it remains entrenched in southern states. According to 2015 Georgia data, as reported by districts, 5,849 students were disciplined in school using corporal punishment. The total number of incidents of corporal punishment was 9,713.

To read more, go to the AJC Get Schooled blog.

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