Proposed end to corporal punishment in Texas

January 1, 2007

Last August I noted in this column the Dallas Morning News story about Everman, Texas, where the local school district not only allows paddling — corporal punishment — but appears to endorse it as a key part of education.

Now comes a new legislature, and Texas State Rep. Alma Allen has filed a bill to ban corporal punishment, H. B. 379. To assuage those who argue that corporal punishment is necessary to maintain classroom discipline, the bill authorizes teachers and other school employees to use physical restraint to protect students from injury, and to get contraband.

Of course, this is the similar to the bill Dr. Allen introduced in the last session. It went nowhere, and without a dramatic change in tone in the state, this bill is likely to die in committee, too. But watch that space anyway.

Allen is a life-long educator representing District 131 in Houston. She holds an M.Ed from Texas Southern, and a D.Ed. from Houston. She retired as an administrator in the Houston Independent School District.

The full text of the bill is below the fold.

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Kearny, NJ, supports voodoo history

January 1, 2007

A brave kid in Kearny, New Jersey, recorded his high school history teacher doing what can be fairly described as preaching religion instead of teaching history.  That should be good enough warning to good and careful history teachers to keep doing their jobs right.

Some citizens of Kearny, however, take a different view:  On a city-run internet bulletin board the student gets little support, and his father gets threatened.  Jim Lippard at the Lippard Blog has a summary of key details.

And you thought your class a tough room to work?

And a tip of the old scrub brush for tracking the story to Pharyngula.

Postscript:  Does anyone know how to pronounce the name of that town?   Like Kearns, Utah, or is it like Kearny, Nebraska? 

Gerald Ford, National Park Ranger

January 1, 2007

Gerald Ford was a very likable guy.  Since his death last week, I have been impressed with the number of people who have stepped forward with different stories about how Ford was just a regular guy called to duty.

Researching the updating of the story about the sale of creationist books in the Grand Canyon, I stumbled into a press release from the National Park Service.  It turns out that Ford is the only president ever to have worked as a National Park Ranger (well, the National Park Service itself has only been around since 1901, so that lets out about half the presidents from even the possibility — though, of course, Yellowstone was established in 1862 1872).

In the summer of 1936 Ford worked in Yellowstone National Park.  He had duties that sound rather quaint and definitely antiquated today:  Ford was a guard on the bear feeding truck.  Bears have to fend for themselves in today’s National Parks.  No, it’s not due to budget cuts in bear food.  Bears do better as wild creatures, and so feeding was stopped to discourage them from becoming tame and dependent on humans.

Gerald Ford, ranger mensch.

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