Posts Tagged ‘Rules’

How Can Handcuffing Students Ever Be Legal?

June 9, 2011

In Australia, if a school Prinicipal was seen to be authorising the handcuffing of students to polls, all hell would break loose!  The Principal would be sacked immediately, and the school would be faced with closure.  In America, it seems that it’s more complicated than that.

A recent school alleged to have shackled its students for hours at a time needs to have been proven contravene a rule that allows handcuffing of kids in certain instances, before legal action  can be imposed.

US civil rights activists have filed a lawsuit against a school they claim shackled children to railings and poles to punish misbehaviour.

Five pupils at Capital City Alternative School in Jackson, Mississippi, claim staff there handcuffed by their wrists, and sometimes the ankles too, for up to six hours at a time.

Some say they were forced to eat lunch while handcuffed, and had to shout to be released to use the bathroom, sometimes unsuccessfully.

They allege school principals often ordered the shackling, WLBT reported.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre filed a lawsuit naming Jackson Public Schools and Capital City Alternative School officials and seeking class-action status on behalf of all the school’s students.

The complaint says the alleged punishments violate the US Constitution and school board policy.

The centre’s director, attorney Jody Evans, said that the policy states students can only be handcuffed if they present a danger to themselves or others, or if they are destroying property.

‘In these instances, none of these occurred. Students were simply (saying) I forgot my belt today, have the wrong shoes on. They were handcuffed,’ he said, according to WLBT.

Critics of the Capital City Alternative School in Jackson say the allegedly excessive punishment makes students more likely to drop out of school – and commit crimes later in life.

The school admits pupils in grades 4-12 who have been suspended or expelled from Jackson Public Schools for 10 days or longer.

School district officials said the agency takes the allegations seriously and will respond through legal channels.

It deeply upsets me that schools should ever have the authority to handcuff students.  That’s the job of the police.  Misissippi needs to change their education policy quickly.  It is not acceptable for this practice to be allowed in any form.

Stop Banning Our Kids From Being Kids

April 7, 2011

Society pretends it isn’t so, but let’s face it – school is not a natural environment for the growing child. Kids have to sit in an often uncomfortable seat for hours on end, have no say who they can sit next to, can not talk unless spoken to, can not go to the toilet without permission and often cannot choose for themselves what they would like to wear.

As a teacher, I devote so much of my time to help maximise my students’ enjoyment for learning and appreciation for the positive aspects of school such as positive social interactions and self growth.  I am drawn to this profession because I can see that it is possible to create joy from the school experience. That kids who have only seen school as a negative can be turned around quite quickly.

That is why I get frustrated with the constant barrage of regulations and bans that lessen the students’ opportunity for enjoyment of school.

Take this unfortunate case for example:

Children at Pope Paul Catholic Primary School, in Baker Street, have been barred from playing the national sport over concerns there could be accidents.

An angry parent of a year five child contacted the Potters Bar Edition to say he thought “the world has gone mad” over the 
ball game ban.

The whistleblower did not wish to be named as he feared the school would “bear grudges” against his child.

He said: “I’m just rather fed up of the health and safety coming out of the school.

“Break times are time to let off some energy and relate with other kids.”

He also pointed to football’s ability to teach valuable life lessons like winning and losing and the importance of teamwork.

And speaking about the injury fears, he added: “Boys might fall over and hurt their leg, but you just get up, wipe it off and carry on.”

Headteacher Helen Lines said: “The children aren’t allowed to play football on the playground during the winter months because there isn’t enough room.”

She added: “Many of the children want their own game and there’s no room to do anything else.

“In the summer there are plenty of ball games on the field, but it’s too muddy in the winter.”

Despite the weather picking up as spring has sprung, Mrs Lines said pupils were still banned from playing football.

She said: “We’ve tried a rota system but it’s too tempting for others not to join in.

“We’ve got lots of people trying to play a very active sport like football, there are going to be accidents.

“There are lots of children who don’t want to play football.”

She added playing the sport in the confines of the playground was too “dangerous”.

Ms. Lines rationale makes no sense at all.  On the one hand she says there isn’t enough room because of the great demand for multiple soccer games and on the other hand she claims that there are children who don’t want to play, thereby intimating that their stance wont affect too many.

There’s a reason why kids like to play active sports during recess – they are kids!  Not only that, they are sitting down for hours on end.  Let them run!  Let them enjoy their recess!  Don’t even bother investigating why boys aren’t thriving at school when you want to ban the very activity that gives them an outlet for their restlessness and something to look forward to.

Ultimately, it’s not entirely the fault of schools.  They are entitled to cover their backs in the fear of being sued.

Here is an idea:  How about Governments passing legislation that makes it much harder for parents to sue schools for run of the mill accidents?

And how far will this go?  If you ban soccer, you have to ban monkey bars, slides, basketballs, cartwheels, running, bunsen burners, scissors and sharp pencils etc.

School is already a less than perfect place for our children.  Why make it so much worse?

Teachers Who Beat Kids Should Be Put Away!

March 14, 2011

Please join me on my mission to eradicate legalised corporal punishment from our classrooms.  In Australia a teacher is not allowed to hit, beat or physically handle a student.  It is against the law, and so it should be.  The fact that some other countries don’t practice the same policy mistifies me.  A teacher should never be given the permission to physically discipline their students.  Such an allowance gives bad teachers the right to lash out at any student that gives them a hard time.  That is hardly what you would call “quality education.”

Stories like this one sicken me:

Picture this. It’s 10am in a classroom at a primary school and a teacher is handing out science test marks to the pupils. Among the children sits a 13-year-old boy who is an excellent student and an athlete, generally a boy who could be classified “a good child”.

But he has failed this particular test. The teacher tells him to stay behind after class.

His heart lurches and he gets a knot in his stomach because he knows what that means. He’s going to get a beating. Before spanking him, the teacher tells the pupil, “My daddy beat me and I beat my children, so I’m going to beat you.”

The boy walks away with not only a bruised bottom, but a bruised ego and tears in his eyes.

This scene is not from a school in some small village in “backward Africa”. Nope, this happened in a school in Alabama.

According to the US Department of Education, more than 200,000 school kids encounter corporal punishment every year across the US. And those are just the ones the department knows about. Some cases go unreported. Testimony at congressional hearings has revealed that up to 20,000 kids a year request medical treatment, mostly for bruising and broken blood vessels after being physically punished in school.

That is an awful statistic.  How can this be allowed anywhere, let alone in the United States?  How can teacher’s get away with bruising their students?  For every medical practitioner that is called on to treat a victim of corporal punishment, a policeman should be called on to put the offending teacher away!

But based on the current state of play, that scenario is a long way off for some states:

Corporal punishment in schools by teachers with a paddle (a wooden board), belt or strap is legal in 20 states. While 28 states have outlawed it outright, the US Supreme Court has ruled it legal.

The majority of the states that still allow teachers to spank kids are in the mid-west and in the south of the country. States such as Missouri, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and, to my surprise, Florida, are said to use corporal punishment more frequently than others.

The mother of the Alabama boy is suing the superintendent of schools and the teacher for her son’s spanking. She’s angry because, by law, you can’t hit a dog and you can’t hit a prisoner, but you are allowed to spank children.

There are guidelines for how teachers can spank kids, which is more than I can say for when I started school in the ’80s, but there are bound to be some teachers who will do whatever they like.

Of course there are teachers that exploit this situation.  Whilst I would like to believe that all teachers care about their students there are enough out there that grow resentful and irrational over the years.  These teachers can not be trusted to make decisions in the best interests of their students.

And to those that think that fear of such a punishment brings out the best in students, I say this.  Fear doesn’t bring out the best in anyone!  If a teacher can’t control their class, they can approach an expert for advice or quit.  If they feel they have to burst their students’ blood vessels to gain law and order, they ought to feel completely and utterly ashamed of themselves.

It’s 2011!  Time to wear our belts, consign paddles to PE lessons and throw away the straps in the bin!

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