Tuesday, December 06, 2016

U.S. Education Secretary to schools: Stop hitting, paddling students

The usual "one-size-fits-all Leftist nonsense.  Most students can be reached without corporal punishment but for some it takes corporal punishment to divert them from foolish behaviour

U.S. Education Secretary John King is urging school districts nationwide to stop hitting and paddling students, saying corporal punishment is “harmful, ineffective, and often disproportionately applied to students of color and students with disabilities.”

In a “dear colleague” letter being issued Tuesday, King asks educators to “eliminate this practice from your schools, and instead promote supportive, effective disciplinary measures.

“The use of corporal punishment can hinder the creation of a positive school climate by focusing on punitive measures to address student misbehavior rather than positive behavioral interventions and supports,” King writes. “Corporal punishment also teaches students that physical force is an acceptable means of solving problems, undermining efforts to promote nonviolent techniques for conflict resolution."

Recent research suggests that more than 160,000 children in 19 states are potential victims of corporal punishment in schools each year, with African-American children in a few southern school districts about 50% more likely than white students to be smacked or paddled by a school worker.

The prevalence of corporal punishment in schools has been steadily dropping since the 1970s, according to findings published last month by the Society for Research in Child Development, a Washington, D.C.-based policy group.

Half of states banned school corporal punishment between 1974 and 1994, but since then, researchers say, only a handful more states have followed suit.

University of Texas researcher Elizabeth Gershoff and a colleague found that 19 states still allow public school personnel to use corporal punishment, from preschool to high school. The states are all in the south or west: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

In his letter, King says that more than one-third of students subject to corporal punishment in schools during the 2013-2014 academic year were black, though black students make up just 16% of public school student population.

He also notes that boys overall, as well as students with disabilities, were more likely to be punished physically: boys represented about 80% of corporal punishment victims, and in nearly all of the states where the practice is permitted, students with disabilities were subjected to corporal punishment at higher rates than students without them.

“These data and disparities shock the conscience,” King wrote.


Speaker Ryan: Education Should Be Decentralized; ‘Reform Should be About Results’

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he supports decentralizing education, adding that reform should be focused on results, not the “arrogant, paternalistic notion” that Washington knows best.

“Education reform should be about results. What educates kids, today’s kids, not tomorrow’s kids, the best,” Ryan told reporters during his weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Ryan’s comments were in response to a question by a reporter asking if the speaker had any reservations regarding the public charter school model favored by Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Dept. of Education . 

“Open it up so we can have different competitive models - choice, charter, public, everything in between - and let that be done in the states,” Ryan responded.

“That’s something that we all feel very passionately about.”

Ryan noted that he supports reverting federal control back to the states because parents, state and local governments are better able to decide what is best for their children.

"I’m a parent. I care about my kids' education and I’m going to send them to the best school that I can,” Ryan said. “Parents can be trusted to do this. Who cares more about your kid than you do?

“So I do believe that in this debate becomes sort of an arrogant, paternalistic notion that Washington somehow knows better or best on how your children should get educated. I think parents know best and care the most.

"And so that is why we so deeply believe in not just decentralizing power, but [in sending] decision-making back to the states, and then opening up competition."


Candy canes banned for Christmas under Tasmanian Primary School's healthy eating policy

A Tasmanian primary school has banned students from including candy canes and similar treats with their Christmas cards this year.

Bellerive Primary School announced a new healthy eating policy on its school association Facebook page on Wednesday. Under the policy, birthday cakes would also be banned from next year in favour of healthy options.

Reactions at the school have been mixed. Parent Ian Green said the school's healthy eating policy had gone too far. "They are depriving kids of being kids," he said.

"They're not going to get obese because they have a cupcake, they're not going to fall over and have a heart attack because they have a candy cane at Christmas."

Another parent Kirsty Shaw said parents had not been consulted.  "I think the school community is a little bit sick and tired of being told what we can and what we can't feed our children," she said.

But not all parents disagree with the ban. Charrhara Harma said it was a good idea. "Yeah that's good because junk is not good for children," she said.

Student James Overton could see both sides of the argument. "It's not really good for your health, but no because people like them and they don't really want them to be banned from school," he said.

The Education Department has distanced itself from the decision.  It said its policy Move Well, Eat Well encouraged the wider school community to support limiting "occasional" foods. In a statement, the state's Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff urged the school to reconsider.

The Bellerive Primary School Association and the school's principal declined to comment.

Tasmania School Canteen Association executive officer Julie Dunbabbin said she believed eventually all schools would ban confectionery.

She said many schools were trying to address the issue of children being exposed to too many cakes due to classmates birthdays. She said cakes could be healthy if baked the right way. "We certainly promote the more healthier version, the ones with less sugar and saturated fat," she said.


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