Outlawing corporal punishment in all N.C. public schools should be an easy call for state lawmakers. Corporal punishment serves no useful purpose. Reams of studies show its an ineffective deterrent to bad behavior and often causes injuries to students. And research shows paddling is disproportionately used on poor children, minorities, students with disabilities and boys.
A first-time report of paddling in N.C. schools presented to the state board of education last month underscores those concerns. To their credit, the majority of N.C. school districts have long banned the antiquated and problematic practice. Charlotte-Mecklenburg banned it more than a decade ago.
But in 2010, 20 of the states 115 N.C. districts were still using the practice. And with continued calls to end the practice altogether, state lawmakers that year required school districts still using it to report on its use. The information is troubling. Students with disabilities are still disproportionately hit though parents of children with disabilities can get their children exempt from paddling. Though children with disabilities represent just 8 percent of the student population, they represent 22 percent of those getting struck.
As concerning, American Indian students are the most likely to be struck. While they comprise less than 2 percent of the student population statewide, they receive about 35 percent of the corporal punishment more than 90 percent of which occurs in Robeson County. In Robeson County, they represent 48 percent of the student population but 81 percent of students paddled.
State law does give individual school districts the right to ban this practice. Thank goodness many have.
But those still clinging to it need a legislative nudge. Thirty-nine states have outlawed corporal punishment. Its time for North Carolina to join that majority.
Protecting the citys trees
Bravo to Charlotte, the city of trees, for fighting to keep hundreds of trees from being whacked just to better show off billboards. City arborist Don McSween and other city leaders understand the importance of the tree canopy to our citys beauty, and so on Friday contested 16 of Adams Outdoor Advertisings 21 applications to fire up the chainsaws.
The legislature targeted trees last year, deciding that 250 feet of clear space (nearly a football fields length) in front of billboards wasnt enough. Now, the city argues that most of Adams proposals violate N.C. Department of Transportation rules. The billboards in question violate other city rules, for example, or target trees that hide views of junkyards or trees that are protected because they were planted as a noise barrier.
The real question, though, is why McSween is having to wage this fight at all. There has been much hand-wringing over the fact that a new state law doesnt give local governments authority to enforce their own ordinances. Overlooked in that debate, though, is that the law doesnt explicitly come down one way or the other on that question. DOT officials, not state law, made the rule neutering the locals.
The DOT should change that rule, and legislators should amend the law when they return in May.