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Corporal Punishment Lives! February 11, 2006

Hi Folks! This one comes to us courtesy of the general discussion board on Drexel’s Graduate Lounge (School of Education). As a graduate of a Catholic grammar school and high school run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland (MOTTO: There isn’t a young butt that we wouldn’t like to whip), I have been hit with a yardstick, a metal ruler, a leather strap, a wooden paddle and a history textbook. My reply to the article follows.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Court Orders College to Readmit Education Student It Had Expelled for Advocating Corporal Punishment   


A New York appeals court has ordered Le Moyne College to reinstate Scott W. McConnell as a student in its education program, a year after the Syracuse institution expelled him for advocating the use of corporal punishment in the classroom.The court, which issued its ruling on Wednesday, found that the college had violated Mr. McConnell’s due-process rights and its own regulations when it dismissed him from the master’s-level program. The three-page decision, which overturned a lower-court ruling, was unanimous.

In a written statement released on Thursday, Le Moyne officials said that they would abide by the ruling and that they had begun the process of appealing the decision to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.Lawyers for Mr. McConnell hailed the ruling. “There is an attempt in teaching programs nationwide not only to indoctrinate the students but also to make sure only people with particular political views can graduate,” said Christopher J. Hajec, a lawyer with the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington-based advocacy group, which represented Mr. McConnell. “Whether you agree with him or not, he definitely has the right to get his degree.” The case is one among several in which students — backed by national conservative organizations — have complained in the last year about education professors who are more interested in students’ political views than in their classroom performance (The Chronicle, December 16).

Mr. McConnell was not allowed to enroll for the spring-2005 semester after the chairwoman of Le Moyne’s education program became aware of a paper advocating corporal punishment that he had written for a course on classroom management. Last January the chairwoman sent him a letter saying that she had “grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs … and the Le Moyne College program goals,” and that he was no longer welcome in the program.

Mr. McConnell sued the college in a New York State court, accusing Le Moyne of violating his First Amendment right to free speech. In October a judge refused to get involved in the case, ruling that the court should not tamper with colleges’ admissions decisions. Mr. McConnell appealed. During the appeal, Le Moyne argued that since Mr. McConnell had been conditionally admitted to the program, and would only be fully admitted based on his record from the fall of 2004, the due-process rights that apply to fully matriculated students did not apply to him. College officials also contended that Mr. McConnell did not meet all of the institution’s admissions requirements because his personal goals did not match the program’s. But the appeals court found that the college’s letter offering Mr. McConnell conditional acceptance did not mention such a requirement. Therefore, the court ruled, he was actually a student entitled to the due-process rights given to other students.

Mr. McConnell said on Thursday that he was “very excited” about the ruling. He said he had registered for classes around 10 a.m. and would take his first one, on research methods, that evening. Mr. McConnell said he did not fear retaliation. “That wouldn’t exemplify Le Moyne’s excellence in education,” he said. “They’re a good school. That’s why I chose them.”


Copyright © 2006 by The Chronicle of Higher Education  


5 Responses to “Corporal Punishment Lives!”

  1. bluboo Says:

    Let’s see if I have it right …

    A smart ass, a fan of spanking little asses, as much as he may be a stupid ass, was kicked out on his ample ass by a group of bigger asses who didn’t like his stupid ass because it advocated spanking little asses. However, the courts said that the bigger asses had their heads up their respective asses when they threw the smart ass out on his ample ass and now the bigger asses must reinstate the stupid ass who can talk out of his ass about spanking little asses.

    Sounds like a perfect education story to me! Do we need to get the “ass” out of “assess”?

  2. Donna Says:

    I feel very mixed up on this one. Having spent my first year as an intern working with 2 teachers who not only advocate but actively practice corporal punishment on kindergarten children, and seeing the harm it caused, I would have loved it if someone got the opportunity to STOP them from ever becoming teachers 20 years ago. That being said, I also see the difference between a student talking about his views vs. practicing it and these people punishing him for his views alone – not having done anything concrete. On the other other hand though, if they are not a public university, do they have a right to say who is a good fit or not a good fit with their program? Are they allowed to say we don’t want teachers practicing corporal punishment with degrees from out university? I am naive on who has the rights here, just concerned that kids not be hit.

  3. Amy Says:

    I too went to Catholic school and I saw a few sisters smack a few hands (and asses, but those were usually the ones of strapping young lads and members of the football team!). At first blush, I thought the article was saying that the University was administering corpral punishment. Now that would be freaky, but I could see how it could have the opposite effect on some people.

  4. bluboo Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Amy. It’s hard to imagine that an institution of higher education would take such obvious steps to punish and silence the student. I don’t agree with corporal punishment. I think back and actually find it funny that some goofy nun or brother could presume that hitting me would suddenly change my behavior. While there may have been a few sadists out there, it was a different time and era. The problem is that there are parents and other adults who physically abuse children far beyond a simple spanking or otherwise. Like drugs, IMHO, corporal punishment requires a zero tolerance policy.

    On the other hand, as much as I am a fan of free speech, I am not sure that a prospective teacher in this day and age should be espousing corporal punishment. Maybe he was drinking or toking a little to hard the night before? I am very sure that I do not want this dude near my kids.

  5. Amy Says:

    I hear that! Apparently, this guy needs to toke a bit harder to mellow himself out. How can you teach kids not to hit each other and then turn around and hit them? There are much more effective means of punishment out there. I was once sprinkled with holy water by a sister, but I don’t think enough sank in to make an impact.

    BTW- I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the fact that you took the time to check out my blog.

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