Educators in Metro can soon use their paddles for firewood after school board members voted unanimously last night to abolish corporal punishment in the system.
The board approved the ban with no discussion about whether spanking in schools provides a viable disciplinary option, a stance taken by parent Linda Cook in a plea to board members.
If teachers can no longer paddle kids, ''we feel that it will encourage our children to get into more trouble,'' Cook said. ''It makes them think twice about what they're doing. A lot of our kids have attitudes, and that's what needs a whipping.''
Instead, board discussion focused on disciplinary alternatives, particularly so that Metro's already high suspension rate doesn't get worse.
''I'll vote for this,'' board member Ed Kindall said. ''I just hope we implement whatever it takes to not increase out-of-school suspensions.''
The staff committee that recommended the paddling ban to the board also suggested disciplinary alternatives such as more classroom-management training for teachers and staffing schools with specialists who are certified to deal with unruly students.
Board member Vern Denney said he was impressed with the alternatives but ''concerned about the timing.''
''If we take action tonight, does this mean there's no more corporal punishment?''
Schools Director Pedro Garcia answered: ''When will it be implemented? Tomorrow,'' as more than 75 educators in the audience groaned in disapproval.
Denney then proposed that Garcia and his staff develop a plan for when to begin the ban and report back to the board. That motion also passed unanimously.