Bill to curtail paddling of Texas students rejected
By Dave Montgomery Star-Telegram, May 11, 2011

AUSTIN -- Efforts to curtail paddling in public schools went down to defeat Wednesday in the Legislature as the House voted 73-69 to reject a bill that would have required parental consent before school officials could administer corporal punishment.

Rep. Barbara Nash, R-Arlington, who was a leading co-author of the bill, dabbed tears from her eyes after the vote. "We just didn't work it hard enough," she said.

Supporters later indicated that they might try to bring the bill back up Wednesday night if they could persuade enough opponents to switch their votes.

HB359, by Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, would have required school districts to get signed written consent from a parent or guardian before administering corporal punishment, described in the bill as "the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline."

The Texas Conservative Coalition, which includes more than 70 of the 101 House Republicans, opposed it.

"We thought schools were quite capable of coming up with their own disciplinary policy without needing state law," said Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, who is on the coalition's board.

A two-part series in the Star-Telegram this year examined corporal punishment in Texas, one of 20 states that allow school officials to paddle students.

Nash and Allen, who sit next to each other in the House, teamed up on the legislation after discovering that they share the goal of outlawing corporal punishment. Allen, a former teacher and principal, has made three previous efforts to pass an outright ban on corporal punishment.

Critics say corporal punishment constitutes legalized child abuse, but opponents of the legislation say disciplinary decisions should be left to parents and local districts.

Supporters hoped that an amendment added to the bill by Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, would soften opposition.

The original bill would have required parents to submit a consent form every year. Smith's amendment required only one consent form during the student's academic career.

The Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of School Administrators have opposed a complete ban but support the alternative measure, which effectively gives parents veto power.

Allen and Nash say research has shown that corporal punishment can have lasting consequences and has been linked to anxiety, depression and drug abuse.

Dave Montgomery is the Star-Telegram's Austin bureau chief. 512-476-4294

In reversal, House OKs corporal punishment limits
By Associated Press,, May 12, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas House has passed a bill to require schools to get parental permission before applying corporal punishment, a day after defeating the measure. The bill by Democratic state Rep. Alma Allen requires schools to contact parents before using any kind of physical punishment.

Under current law, school districts can each set their own rules and procedures for corporal punishment. Allen said her bill would set statewide standards. Republicans defeated the bill on a 69-73 vote Wednesday, arguing it infringed on the autonomy of school districts.

But it passed 87-56 on Thursday, after lengthy debate. Some representatives who opposed the measure sung the praises of school spankings to straighten out problem students. Those supporting it said parents should be the ones to decide how their kids are punished.

Letter to the Editor of Star-Telegram
By Jordan Riak, May 12, 2011


Currently, the only people in Texas who can legally batter another human being on the buttocks with a weapon as part of their paid professional duties are 1) porn stars, 2) prostitutes and 3) schoolteachers. This grouping may be a bit unfair to members of groups 1 and 2. In those cases, participants in the activity do so as freely consenting adults. Not so in schools.

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