In A Flash

Resolution asking education department to study use of corporal punishment has passed in both chambers

By: - May 25, 2021 7:02 pm

“The board of education” by Wesley Fryer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Louisana House voted 60-34 Tuesday in favor of a resolution introduced by Sen. Cleo Fields (D-Baton Rouge) that asks the Louisiana Department of Education “to study the feasibility of banning the use of corporal punishment in public schools.” The House’s support of the resolution follows its May 4 rejection of a bill by Metairie Republican Rep. Stephanie Hilferty that would’ve outlawed corporal punishment in public schools immediately.

When Fields introduced his bill to the Senate May 4, he said his bill is only necessary if Hilferty’s bill fails.

Fields’ SCR 18 also requires the education department to “submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Senate Committee on Education and the House Committee on Education not later than January 31, 2022.”

Rep. Lawrence Bagley (R-Stonewall) said from the House floor that he believes school discipline decisions should be left up to the local school districts and “not somebody based in Baton Rouge.”

The bill from Hilferty died in the House of Representatives by a 47-50 vote May 4.

Lawmakers opposed to Hilferty’s bill said the same thing, that the state’s school systems should be allowed “to make their own rules” regarding discipline.

In an April Louisiana House Education Committee meeting, Hilferty said pediatricians have found that children who are punished with hitting become more aggressive and have reduced levels of grey matter in their brains. She said such students also score lower on IQ tests and that being subjected to such discipline is considered an adverse childhood experience, that is a traumatic experience that is likely to have long term implications. 

“We do not allow children in our juvenile detention system to be hit. We do not allow prisoners in our prison system to be hit. We do not allow children in early education to be hit,” Hilferty said to the committee last month. “For some reason, we’ve determined that during the K-12 time period of a child’s life that hitting is the way to change their behavior.”

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.