The Memphis Board of Education's historic ban on corporal punishment is changing the approach toward discipline that must be taken by teachers, parents and the volunteer support groups that have always played important roles in the schools.
A few of the students no doubt are finding out how far they can go under the new rule. Research has shown, however, that the new way at Memphis City Schools is a better way.
In place of the counterproductive practice of corporal punishment, schools have revamped their disciplinary programs under a set of guidelines called the Blue Ribbon Plan.
Policies now incorporate more counseling, in-school suspension and classroom meetings that engender mutual empathy among students. There is more role-playing, group counseling, peer mediation and the like.
The plan will work if parents are willing to come to school when teachers call, talk to their children about discipline and form partnerships with teachers.
Let's hope teachers and parents have the patience to give the no-paddling policy some time. It overturns decades of tradition and challenges long-held assumptions about what's best for kids. But the policy deserves a chance to succeed.
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