TEMPLE, TEX. — In an era when students talk back to teachers, skip class and wear ever-more-risque clothing to school, one central Texas city has hit upon a deceptively simple solution: Bring back the paddle.
Most school districts across the country banned paddling of students long ago. Texas sat that trend out. Nearly a quarter of the estimated 225,000 students who received corporal punishment nationwide in 2006, the latest figures available, were from the Lone Star State.
But even by Texas standards, Temple is unusual. The city, a compact railroad hub of 60,000 people, banned the practice and then revived it at the demand of parents who longed for the orderly schools of yesteryear. Without paddling, “there were no consequences for kids,” said Steve Wright, who runs a construction business and is Temple’s school board president.
Since paddling was brought back to the city’s 14 schools by a unanimous board vote in May, behavior at Temple’s single high school has changed dramatically, Wright said, even though only one student in the school system has been paddled.
“The discipline problem is much better than it’s been in years,” Wright said, something he attributed to the new punishment and to other discipline programs schools are trying. Residents of the city’s comfortable homes, most of which sport neighborly, worn chairs out front, praise the change.