Minister says Indiana Governor's call for more immunity for teachers is a bad idea, Widely circulated open letter by Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Clergy (Retired), August 14, 2008

INDIANA - Now comes Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels hawking new legislation to protect school officials against lawsuits involving student “discipline.” That Mitch Daniels should be trumpeting this issue is no surprise. The man has proven himself to be without a social conscience.

What Governor Daniels really is defending is a sick and pervasive kind of brutality toward kids in Indiana Schools called corporal punishment. While there’s a new focus on bullying in public schools and an increased public concern about child abuse, Mitch Daniels wants to move his state even farther into the dark ages by providing additional legal protection for administrators and teachers who institutionalize bullying and child abuse daily in what euphemistically is called “discipline.” Paddling in public and private schools is nothing more than institutional terrorism. It has nothing to do with good discipline or quality education. Thousands of schools—indeed, virtually all of the civilized world—operate well without it. Twenty-nine states have outlawed the practice. Rather, paddling provides a convenient haven for administrators and teachers who are incompetent, violent, brutal, vindictive, and often emotionally ill. The result of paddling is not better behavior but anger, resentment, serious depression, and an inclination toward further anti-social behavior. Hence, paddling is not only a violation of the student’s body but a violation of a student’s mental health. It reinforces an understanding that the ultimate solution to human problems is violence.

It is my personal persuasion that those who advocate and employ paddling in public and private schools are little different from adults who commit sexual abuse against children or the drug dealer who lurks in the shadows by the schoolyard. They all feed at the same trough. That Governor Mitch Daniels would target American schoolchildren, who are denied any civil rights, to fuel his campaign for re-election is a moral disgrace.

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