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Article (2006) by a Texas mother whose schoolboy son had been threatened with "swats". She interviews various school students about the rights and wrongs of paddling. Boys tended to favor it (especially since, in that particular district, parents usually were not informed), while girls mostly preferred detention to being spanked. The article is followed by a message board with hundreds of comments, most predictable, some absurd.

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Mandatory education for Indian children became law in 1893 and thereafter agents on the reservations received instructions on how to enforce the federal regulation. If parents refused to send their children to school the authorities could withhold annuities or rations or send them to jail. Some parents were uncomfortable having their children sent far away from home. The educators had quotas to fill, however, and considerable pressure was exerted on Indian families to send their youngsters to boarding schools beginning when the child was six years old. Fear and loneliness caused by this early separation from family is a common experience shared by all former students. Once their children were enrolled in a distant school, parents lost control over decisions that affected them. For example, requests for holiday leave could be denied by the superintendent for almost any reason. ()

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I got Martha's old sorority paddle from my desk, where it hadbeen stored since August, just in case I ever needed it. The boybent over and grabbed his lower legs while I gave him three swatsas dad witnessed. I knew by his reaction that the paddle stung,and thus the desired effect had been achieved. I then reached outand shook the boys hand, told him there were no hard feelings,and sent him back to class. Dad thanked me, reminded me thatfuture problems were also to be handled with the board, and left.

I spent a few minutes reflecting on what had just happened. Therealization came over me that my job would never be the same. Upuntil today, I had not paddled a single student because thesuperintendent and principal didn't think it was a gooddisciplinary tool....

The student whom I had just paddled was about to tell his friendsabout the experience. The word would soon be all over campus aswell as the town. Thus the paddling of one fifteen-year-old highschool boy would have a disciplinary effect on the entire student body.

From my experience, it was like a new tool being added to mychest. I knew that corporal punishment would now be an optionthat I would use in the future. In the overall disciplinaryscheme, it fit neatly between detention and suspension. Amisbehaving student for whom detention would be too light apunishment and for whom suspension would be too strong apunishment could now be paddled.... It's not the answer forevery student's disciplinary problems, but it is the answer for alot of them.


On some message board or other, an extraordinarily long conversation (30 pages when I foolishly printed it out) arising out of a news story about a boy threatened with paddling at a private Christian school. Like most of these things, the debate never really gets anywhere and most of the contributors seem to be at cross purposes.

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The boarding schools had what came to be called the "half and half" system where students spent half of the day in the classroom and half at a work assignment or "detail" on the school grounds. The academic curriculum included courses in U.S. history, geography, language, arithmetic, reading, writing and spelling. Music and drama were offered at most schools. Young women spent either the morning or the afternoon doing laundry, sewing, cooking, cleaning and other household tasks. Oldergirls might study nursing or office work. The young men acquired skills in carpentry, blacksmithing, animal husbandry, baking and shop. They chopped firewood to keep the steam boilers operating. The work performed by students was essential to the operation of the institution. The meat, vegetables and milk served in the dining room came from livestock and gardens kept by the students. The girls made and repaired uniforms, sheets, and curtains and helped to prepare the meals.

Illness was another serious problem at the boarding schools. Crowded conditions and only the basic medical care no doubt contributed to the spread of diseases such as measles, influenza and tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was especially feared and at the Tulalip Indian School the dormitories were kept cold by leaving the windows open at night. Several students were sent to sanitariums in Idaho or Nevada. In a letter issued to superintendents in 1913, the Indian Office advised disinfecting all textbooks at the end of each school year to reduce the chance of spreading disease. Hospital reports for Tulalip indicate that boys spent a total of 110 days in the hospital during one month and girls 125 days. Death was not an unknown occurrence either. At Chemawa, a cemetery contains headstones of 189 students who died at the school, and these represent only the ones whose bodies were not returned home for burial.

American Indians of the Pacific Northwest Collection
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A message board in Tennessee. A newcomer to the area is dismayed (2006) to discover that CP is allowed in local schools. This unleashes a torrent of replies from locals who argue forcefully and cogently that in their view paddling is a good thing. Almost the only dissenting voices are from professional anti-CP agitators not based in Tennessee.

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By the 1920s the Bureau of Indian Affairs had changed its opinion about boarding schools, responding to complaints that the schools were too expensive and that they encouraged dependency more than self-sufficiency. By 1923, the majority of Indian children nationwide attended public schools. A report on Indian education issued in 1928 revealed glaring deficiencies in the boarding schools, including poor diet, overcrowding, below-standard medical service, excessive labor by the students and substandard teaching. The 1930s witnessed many changes in federal Indian policy, among which was a shift in educational philosophy. Classroom lessons could now reflect the diversity of Indian cultures. States assumed more control over Indian education as more children enrolled in public schools. Most of the boarding schools were closed by this time, Tulalip in 1932 and Cushman in 1920, leaving Chemawa as the sole government boarding school remaining in the Pacific Northwest.

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