Alabama Media Group and Alabama School Connection collaborated on this story, published Monday morning, about paddling in Alabama’s schools.
We learned this morning that nearly 19,000 students were paddled in Alabama’s schools during the 2013-2014 school year according to federal data released this summer.
We learned that Alabama ranks third in the nation in percentage of students paddled overall, at 2.5%. And if you limit the count to only those schools (657 out of 1,367 schools in Alabama paddled students), that percentage rises to 5.7%, still a third-place ranking.
We learned that Alabama is one of 15 states in the country where paddling is specifically allowed by state law, and that a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court decision affirmed states’ rights to paddle students in school.
We learned that males are paddled at a 4.5-to-1 rate over females, and that black and multi-race students are disproportionately paddled over white, Hispanic, and children of other races.
We learned that Alabama’s current education leaders don’t see a problem with paddling, and that Alabama’s new state superintendent comes from a state that banned paddling in schools 45 years ago.
Here are those numbers and rates. First, the boys.
Next, the girls.
We learned that the data doesn’t tell us everything. In fact, the data the feds require doesn’t even tell us why students are being paddled. And the state won’t tell us, either.
What we learned from the national-level discussion in the C-SPAN video below is that school administrators say that paddling is used in place of suspending students.
We don’t know if that’s the case in Alabama.
Some folks assume that all the paddling is done in elementary schools. That’s not the case in Alabama. See for yourself.
Finally, here’s a look at a documentary made a couple of years ago about the “board” of education. Alabama is featured.
From the film: “Corporal punishment was found to be cruel and unusual punishment by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1968. It is banned in the U.S. military, in correctional facilities and in mental institutions however, use of the paddle is still allowed in many U.S. public schools.”
Stay tuned for links to further coverage.