Principals Call for Halt to Corporal Punishment
Addressing the issue of corporal punishment more directly than it has in the past, the National Association of Elementary School Principals last week approved a resolution urging that the practice be abolished in all schools.
The group's delegate assembly, which includes elected representatives from each state, approved the measure unanimously at the N.A.E.S.P.'s annual convention in Orlando, Fla.
Previous resolutions adopted by the N.A.E.S.P. have tried to steer principals away from corporal punishment by urging "alternative methods'' of discipline.
Recognizing that corporal punishment "adversely affects children and the image of the principal,'' however, the group this year felt the issue was important enough "to make it stand out,'' noted Fred Brown, the N.A.E.S.P.'s president-elect and the chairman of its resolutions committee.
The item drew no dissenters, either during the vote or at open hearings, he said.
While a majority of members would have supported such a measure in the past, he suggested, "the climate is much more conducive to it right now.''
"Principals are becoming much more aware of two things,'' said Mr. Brown, who is the principal of a school in Boyertown, Pa. "One is the effect corporal punishment can have on children, and two is the litigation it can involve us in as principals.''
Arguing that corporal punishment can harm students' self-esteem and "contribute to disruptive and violent student behavior,'' the resolution urges educators to push for legislation to ban the practice in schools and "provide resources for the development of positive alternatives.''
Advice to Parents
In a resolution that for the first time addresses the issue of school violence apart from vandalism, the group also called on schools and lawmakers to be "vigilant'' in insuring safety and security.
Other resolutions approved by the group supported:
- Inclusion of special-education students in regular classrooms, with appropriate financing, staff training, and support services;
- Funding for high-quality child-care services;
- Collaborative efforts to provide good health care to all children;
- "Comprehensive transition plans'' to foster continuity between preschool and the early grades; and
- A "broad-based consensus process,'' involving educators, in the setting of educational standards.
Also at last week's conference, the group released a survey of 700 principals offering parents guidance on choosing a school.
The principals urged parents to look at such areas as teacher-student ratios, library equipment and usage, methods of reading instruction, use of computers, discipline policies, presence of specialists, grading methods, currency of classroom materials, and access to the principal and staff outside regular school hours.
The group also aired a new video it produced with World Book Educational Products offering parenting tips for a child's first five years of life. The video will be distributed to the obstetric wards of 1,300 high-birth-rate hospitals.
Copies of the video, "Little Beginnings: Starting Your Child on a Lifetime of Learning,'' are available for $24.45 each from the N.A.E.S.P. Educational Products, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, Va. 22314-3483.