U.S. law- and policy-makers' and others' opinions of school corporal punishment in 2001

On January 23, 2001 and during the next several days, the following query was sent via standard mail to those listed below in the section, "RECIPIENTS AND THEIR RESPONSES."

Dear _______________:

During the recent presidential campaign, this organization closely monitored President George W. Bush’s comments on education. To the best of our knowledge, on no occasion did he specifically address corporal punishment in schools. The “Teacher Protection Act,” a key part of his education reform package, does address discipline of students and disputes arising therefrom but does not explicitly mention corporal punishment.

A casual observer, without prior knowledge of the facts, would never guess that corporal punishment is widely used in the schools of twenty-three States and, moreover, that the number of incidents in the public schools of Texas alone is approximately 81,000 per year. We believe that a more open and forthcoming treatment of this subject by those in positions of influence and responsibility is called for. To that end, we invite your response to the following questions:

1) What is your position with regard to corporal punishment of schoolchildren?
2) What information has led you to that opinion?

For clarification, we define “corporal punishment” as the deliberate battering of a child's body by a caretaker in order to inflict physical pain. Typically, the rationale for the act is that it should demonstrate the caretaker's disapproval of child's behavior and motivate the child to become more compliant with the caretaker's authority and demands. Standard practice in the great majority of schools that use the procedure involves requiring the student to assume a submissive rump-presentation posture while a teacher or administrator, using an instrument such as a flat piece of wood, repeatedly strikes the student’s protruding pelvic area. Injuries are not uncommon. Examples of school corporal punishment-related injuries can be viewed online at the Web address, and a photograph of an actual school paddling in progress in a Tennessee public high school (January 2001) is at We've enclosed a print of the latter for your convenience.

We look forward to your response.

Jordan Riak,
Executive Director


Each of those listed here has received a personalized version of the above letter via standard mail. The photograph of the paddling scene was enclosed with each letter. Responses are linked from the respective recipient's name. "N/R" following the name indicates that no response has been received to date. This project is ongoing and readers are invited to return from time to time to see who's responded and what they've said. Their responses, or non-responses, will be preserved as part of a permanent record.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Sen. Jeff BingamanN/R
Sen. Sam BrownbackN/R
Sen. Susan M. CollinsN/R
Sen. Mike DeWineN/R
Sen. Christopher J. DoddN/R
Sen. Mike EnziN/R
Sen. Judd GreggN/R
Sen. Chuck HagelN/R
Sen. Tom HarkinN/R
Sen. Tim HutchinsonN/R
Sen. James M. JeffordsN/R
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, ChairN/R
Sen. Barbara A. MikulskiN/R
Sen. Patty MurrayN/R
Sen Jack Reed N/R
Sen. Jeff SessionsN/R
Sen. Paul A. WellstoneN/R

House Committee on Education and the Workforce
Robert E. AndrewsN/R
Cass BallengerN/R
Bill BarrettN/R
John A. Boehner, ChairN/R
Michael N. CastleN/R
William (Bill) ClayN/R
Nathan DealN/R
Jim DeMintN/R
Chaka FattahN/R
Ernie FletcherN/R
Harold E. FordN/R
Lindsay O. GrahamN/R
James C. GreenwoodN/R
Van HillearyN/R
Ruben HinojosaN/R
Peter HoekstraN/R
Rush D. HoltN/R
Johnny IsaksonN/R
Sam JohnsonN/R
Dale E. KildeeN/R
Ron KindN/R
Dennis J. KucinichN/R
Carolyn McCarthyN/R
David M. McIntoshN/R
Howard P. "Buck" McKeonN/R
George MillerN/R
Patsy T. Mink
Charlie NorwoodN/R
Major R. OwensN/R
Ron PaulN/R
Donald M. PayneN/R
Thomas E. PetriN/R
Tim RoemerN/R
Marge RokemaN/R
Carlos A. Romero-BarcelóN/R
Matt SalmonN/R
Loretta SanchezN/R
Bob SchaeferN/R
Robert C. ScottN/R
Mark E. SounderN/R
James M. TalentN/R
Thomas G. TancredoN/R
John F. TierneyN/R
Fred UptonN/R
Lynn C. WoolseyN/R
David WuN/R

Tennessee State Board of Education
Dr. Douglas E. Wood, Executive DirectorN/R
Hubert McCullough, ChairmanN/R
Richard RayN/R
Melvin WrightN/R
Cherrie HoldenN/R
Avron FogelmanN/R
Burrell HarrisN/R
Charles FrazierN/R
Valerie Copeland RutledgeN/R
Fielding RolstonN/R
Marion Heckethorne, Student MemberN/R

Tennessee Board of Regents
Demetra Godsey BoydN/R
Edgar R. BowersN/R
Noble CodyN/R
Robert Jack FishmanN/R
Arles B. GreeneN/R
Clifford H. HenryN/R
Jane KisberN/R
W. Keith McCordN/R
Leslie Parks PopeN/R
J. Stanley RogersN/R
Dr. Maxine SmithN/R
Arrita SummersN/R
William Watkins, Jr.N/R
Hon. Dan WheelerN/R
Cynthia DavisN/R
Hon. Don SundquistN/R

Members of the Senate, excluding members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
[Names to be added as letters are sent.]
Herb Kohl (WI)N/R
Fred Thompson (TN)N/R
Bill Frist
Patrick Leahy (VT)N/R
Joseph Biden (DE)N/R
Dianne Feinstein
Russ Feingold (WI)N/R
Charles Schumer (NY)N/R
Richard Durbin (IL)N/R
Maria Cantwell (WA)N/R
Ernest Hollings (SC)N/R
John McCain (AZ)N/R
Wayne AllardN/R
George AllenN/R
Daniel AkakaN/R
Max BaucusN/R
Evan BayhN/R

Members of the Progressive Caucus
Earl HilliardN/R
Eni FaleomavaegaN/R
Ed PastorN/R
Lynn C. WoolseyN/R
George MillerN/R
Nancy PelosiN/R
Fortney "Pete" StarkN/R
Henry WaxmanN/R
Maxine WatersN/R
Xavier BecerraN/R
Julian DixonN/R
Estaban Edward Torres
George E. BrownN/R
Bob FilnerN/R
Diane DeGetteN/R
Eleanor Holmes NortonN/R
Corrine BrownN/R
Carrie P. MeekN/R
Alcee L. HastingsN/R
Cynthia A. McKinneyN/R
John LewisN/R

[Names to be added as letters are sent.]
.Former Texas Governor Ann W. RichardsN/R
State education department heads
[Names to be added as letters are sent.]
Dr. Vernon Coffey, Commissioner, Tennessee Dept. of EducationN/R
Utah State Legislature
Sen. Paula F. Julander N/R
Sen. Pete Suazo N/R
Sen. Gene Davis N/R
Sen. Howard A. Stephenson N/R
Sen. Chris Buttars N/R
Sen. Michael G. Waddoups N/R
Sen. Karen Hale N/R
Sen. Carlene M. Walker N/R
Sen. L. Steven Poulton N/R
Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard N/R
Sen. Beverly Evans N/R
Sen. Mike Dmitrich N/R
Sen Leonard M. Blackham N/R
Sen. John W. (Bill) Hickman N/R
Sen. L. Alma "Al" Mansell N/R
Sen. Ed P. Mayne N/R
Sen. Millie M PetersonN/R
Sen. Ron Allen N/R
Sen. John L. Valentine N/R
Sen. Parley Hellewell N/R
Sen Curtis Bramble N/R
Sen. Bill Wright N/R
Sen. D. Edgar Allen N/R
Sen. Dave Gladwell N/R
Sen. Scott K. Jenkins N/R
Sen. David H. Steele N/R
Sen Terry Spencer N/R
Sen. Dan R. Eastman N/R
Sen. Peter C. Kundson N/R

.Rep. Sam FarrN/R
.Richard G. Rhoda, Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education CommissionN/R
.Dr. David A. Kessler, Dean, Yale University School of MedicineN/R

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