Monday night, by a vote of five to four, the Memphis City School Board voted to abolish corporal punishment in the district.
Commissioner Lora Jobe sponsored the resolution that brings the 35-year practice to an end. "When we have 70% of kids living in poverty and a culture of poverty that embraces violence, we can show children a safer and non-violent way of life." she said.
The vote came after hours of debate. School Board Member Wanda Halbert supports paddling. "To deny me, to deny my voice, to deny my right, is a violation of me...and my child." she said.
A key part of Jobe's plan calls for Superintendent Carol Johnson to create sanctions other than spanking, like in-school suspension or community service.
"We want students to make choices, good choices, when no adult is standing over them, threatening them." Supt. Johnson said.
Alternative disciplinary measures are outlined in what Superintendent Johnson is calling her "Blue Ribbon Behavior Initiative." The new punishments will start this summer in select schools, and expand to more schools in the fall.
The five school board members who voted to abolish corporal punishment include Deni Hirsh, Lora Jobe, Carl Johnson, Sara Lewis and Patrice Robinson.
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