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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Disciplining brown people, red state style

It's good to see that there are still schools in Mississippi where biblically-based disciplinary techniques are carried out with a vengeance.

When I signed up to sub at this school, I was very enthusiastic. But on my first day, I had my first experience with corporal punishment. The teacher in the adjacent class told me she had a "bad day" and had to paddle 8 kids. She seemed to be bragging about it. I could hardly believe what I was hearing.

Here's what just happened a few days ago, which is why I am so upset. On the morning of March 10, our school principal went outside to wait for the school busses. When they arrived and began to unload, he rounded up about 100 boys and told them that for not having their shirts tucked in they were going to have to choose between a 3 day suspension or a paddling. About 60 of them took the paddling.

I never saw anything like that when we lived in San Jose. There was no paddling. When a student did something wrong, our principal talked to him privately and figured out how to solve the problem. Everybody liked and respected that man. But here in this Mississippi town, it's different. The only way this principal knows how to solve problems is by paddlng students. Every day there are paddlings in the hall. Even with my classroom door shut I can hear them.

If a teacher writes up somebody for misbehavior, the result is corporal punishment. I try everything possible to solve a problem rather than write up a student because I know if I do, he or she is going to get paddled, no questions asked. Paddle first, talk later. I think our principal enjoys doing it because he doesn't seem to miss an opportunity. On the last day before spring break, he announced to the school "This is still one of the 180 learning days, and I will not put up with anybody who acts up. So, have a nice day, or not -- the choice is yours." The students think he is a jerk.

A few days ago, the regular teacher who I was relieving warned me about a new girl in class who was giving everybody a lot of trouble, that she has "an attitude problem." The teacher explained that the girl had been in the special school and they just sent her back to the mainstream. She told me to keep an eye on her, and write her up the minute she steps out of line. That way we can get her shipped back to the special school. I had that girl sit close to my desk, and I talked to her and showed an interest. That's all she needed, just somebody to be pleasant and give her a little attention and kindness. She was fine. Actually, that's all any of these children need. They don't need people hitting them.

Another time a teacher pointed out a student to me and said, "If he gives you any trouble at all, just send him down to me. I'd love to tan his black hide." Black boys get most of the paddlings in our school.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.