Saturday, March 08, 2008




"I have personally accepted to take three swats ... I not only want to see the paddle (used for corporal punishment), but I want to experience it also." -- L.A. School Board member Bobbi Fiedler

Some readers of School Board President Garcia's Op-Ed in the LA Times about the 1968 Chicano Student Walkouts may be a bit shocked at the mention of corporal punishment and locking bathrooms. Corporal punishment persisted at LAUSD schools long after the walkouts. School Boardmembers elected in the backlash of the civil rights movement Garcia celebrates launched careers that took them to Congress based on 'bringing back the paddle'– and until Roy Romer's superintendency student restrooms were routinely padlocked to save money. - smf

By Ellen Futtermann - Herald Examiner Staff Writer

3 November 1979 - Los Angeles - It may take a while before spanking with a paddle returns to Los Angeles city schools, but when it does, school board member Bobbi Fiedler said she would be the first one to "bend over."

"I not only want to see what these paddles look like," Fiedler said yesterday at a public hearing of the Board of Education, which drew about 35 people. "I want to experience it."

Fiedler's comment came during a hearing called by the board to get public opinion on guidelines for its plan to reintroduce spanking into elementary and junior high schools. Although the use of corporal punishment had been approved by a 4-2 board vote on Oct. 22, no guidelines have yet been set up.

Fiedler said, "I have personally accepted to take three swats … I not only want to see the paddle (to be used for corporal punishment), but I want to experience it also."

Fiedler explained that being paddled will help her "gather empirical evidence" on what kind of paddle should be used in spanking.

She said she expected that spanking would be back in the schools by September 1980.

The tentative spanking guidelines were submitted by administrative consultant Sidney Thompson, who is chairman of the Committee for Implementation Guidelines for Corporal Punishment. They call for, in addition to parental consent, a review of the student's health card and any other remedial measures, an explanation of why corporal punishment is being administered, a reasonable alternative to be offered to the student, and an effort to contact the parent before administering the spanking.

Also, the principal, assistance principal or dean will be the only ones to administer the punishment, and they will use a paddle on the student's buttocks.

But most of yesterday's discussion centered on the issue of corporal punishment itself.

Various community groups including members of the Mexican-American Education Commission, the California State Psychological Association and the Community Relations Conference of Southern California, asked board members to reconsider their acceptance of corporal punishment in the schools.

Margaret Wright, a member of the Black Education Commission, made it clear that the BEC is against corporal punishment in the schools, but went on to list about 11 recommendations for the final guidelines.

"What is the maximum number of swats a child can get at any one time?" Wright asked. "And what happens to the administrator who abuses corporal punishment?"

The two teachers who spoke to the board clearly supported the use of corporal punishment in the schools. The teachers argued that there have been more classroom disruptions by students since the 1975 abolition of spanking because they know they won't be physically punished.

"Shortly after corporal punishment was abolished in the schools, my student started defying me," said James Sebelski, who is a science teacher at San Fernando Junior High School.


After a couple of hours, the board drew up a list of considerations they wanted Thompson's committee to look into. Among these considerations were:

  • A standardized paddle that would be used by every administrator giving punishment.
  • A decision on the maximum number of spanks a child could receive at any one time.
  • The kinds of infractions that would result in corporal punishment.
  • Statistical records including the student's age, sex, race, ethnicity, cause of punishment and who administered the punishment.
  • Punishment to administrators who abuse corporal punishment.

The board gave these, and other recommendations to Thompson, who will meet with his committee to study the public's suggestions. Thompson said he expects to have clearer guidelines in about four weeks.

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