In a 61 to 34 vote on Monday, the Louisiana House of Representatives rejected a statewide ban on corporal punishment in schools, The Times-Picayune reports.
Individual school districts can continue to use their own discretion on whether and how to physically punish misbehaving children. Currently, 38 of the state’s 69 public school districts allow schools to use corporal punishment, the outlet reported.
Democratic state Rep. Barbara Norton, who sponsored the defeated measure, said paddling “brutalizes” students. She underscored that 1,633 public school students received corporal punishment in Louisiana since 2011, The Advocate said.
“I believe at the end of the day we’re teaching our students about violence,” she said, The Advocate reported.
Those on the other side of the aisle argued that the state should not impose its values on communities. “I still feel like we can do some things better at the local level,” said state GOP Rep. J. Rogers Pope, a retired school superintendent, the Associated Press reported.
Those in the middle, like Republican chairwoman of the House Education Committee Rep. Nancy Landry, said students need safeguards. For example, the state should prohibit male administrators from spanking female students and requiring children to remove their clothing before a paddling.
In November 2016, former U.S. Secretary of Education John King urged states to ban corporal punishment. A letter from King to state legislatures warned that corporal punishment “teaches students that physical force is an acceptable means of solving problems, undermining efforts to promote nonviolent techniques for conflict resolution.”
He said more than 110,000 students nationwide were subjected to corporal punishment during the 2013-2014 school year.