Corporal punishment to be considered by Memphis school board members

Dr. Kenneth Whalum
Dr. Kenneth Whalum

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - To paddle or not to paddle...a hot topic is back on the table, as a Memphis City School Board member wants bring back corporal punishment.

Tuesday, Dr. Kenneth Whalum said he proposed bringing corporal punishment back into Memphis City Schools because that's what the teachers want.

"Most of them said they just can't teach without having order in the classroom," Whalum said. "Before corporal punishment was taken out of Memphis City Schools, the teachers had control, because a misbehaving child knew there would be swift consequences to misbehavior."

Whalum says the board's decision to fire teacher's aides has left teachers with even less control.

"The teacher's aides were at least providing real-time help," he said. "If one or two kids were misbehaving, then a teacher's aide could take those kids aside."

Whalum also proposed a resolution to rehire teacher's aides.

"I fully expect both resolutions to die," he said.

In fact, Whalum did not expect his resolutions to get as far as they have.

"A miracle happened at the school board last night," he said. "My resolution was seconded! I did not expect that."

Sharon Web provided the second, which means the school board must take a vote on the matter.

"The reason I second the motion is not so much that I believe we should reinstate corporal punishment, but I think it was important enough, because we have so many people affected by it," Webb said. "I think it's a conversation we need to have."

Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash did not want to take part in the conversation Tuesday.

"I'm not going to talk about my thoughts at this time," he said. "This is a board resolution."

Cash said he will provide his input when the school board discusses the issue next month.  As a candidate for superintendent, Cash said he was against corporal punishment in schools.

Memphis City Schools ended corporal punishment about five years ago.

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