It Oughta Be Illegal…The School Edition

“Stop judging, that you will not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” Matthew 7, 1-2, New American Bible (Revised Edition)

I’ll admit it. Sometimes I can be a little judgmental. Okay, maybe more often than sometimes and maybe more than a little.

Wearing a t-shirt that says “Beer, Boobs, and Bowling” while meeting your child’s second grade teacher on the first day of school?* I’m judging you. Encouraging your child to relieve himself on the playground rather than walking him 500 feet to the restroom? Seriously? Smoking in a car with the windows up and the kids in the backseat? Are you insane?

But I know I’m not alone. We all have our list of things that aren’t illegal, but probably should be.

I thought it might be fun to start a new monthly feature on Lex Mater called “It Oughta Be Illegal…” My blog post on the first Friday of every month will be dedicated to two or three things that probably should be illegal, but aren’t.

I really want to hear from you. What’s on your list of things that should be illegal but aren’t? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Today’s edition of “It Oughta Be Illegal”…School.

Corporal Punishment

Believe it or not, 15 states (including Texas) have laws specifically allowing schools to use corporal punishment to discipline students, and eight other states have no laws or regulations against it. If you want to see what the law is in your state, check out this online database put together by the National Center of Safe Supportive Learning Environments, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

So what is “corporal punishment” in 2018? In Texas, corporal punishment is defined in Section 37.01 of the Texas Education Code as the “deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping, or any other physical force used as a means of discipline.”

I’m no criminal lawyer, but this definition sounds awfully similar to another legal term, criminal assault. In Texas, the definition of “criminal assault” in Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code includes “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another.”

While it’s true that most of Texas’ big urban and suburban districts have opted out of corporal punishment, during the 2011-12 school year (the most recent year for data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights), 28,569 Texas school children were spanked or paddled in Texas.

It seems crazy to me that if your kid is paddled in Target it’s called an assault, but if it’s inside a school, it’s called discipline. What do you think? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Parents Who Gift a Teacher Above and Beyond the Joint Class Gift

I’m being a little factitious here, but I am sure I am not the only parent who can relate to this one.

We can all agree on two things. First, teachers are grossly underpaid and deserve a little something extra from the parents. Second, that “little something extra” should not be 25 candles and “World’s Greatest Teacher” mugs.

For the ten years I have had kids in school, there is always a collection at the beginning of the year to buy a joint class gift for the teacher. Great idea, right? Instead of everyone buying the teacher trinkets she probably doesn’t need or want, we pool our money together to buy the teacher something she could really use and appreciate (like an Amazon gift card).

Except there’s always one or two (or more) parents who just have to give a separate gift (on top of their donation to the joint class gift). And that gift always seems to be delivered by their kid in front of all of the other kids. And do you know what the other kids think? “Oh no! I [meaning my mom] forgot to buy my teacher a gift. My teacher’s going to think I don’t like her. I feel terrible!”

This year I made donations to seven separate joint teacher gift funds for my four kids. And still my seven year old came home crying from school because she had no big wrapped gift to give her teacher on the last day of school before Christmas.

Okay moms. We all need to get on the same page. Are we doing joint class gifts or not? If we are and you still really feel the need to give the teacher a separate gift, don’t have your kids deliver it to the teacher in front of the other kids.

* True story. The dad of one of my eldest daughter’s second grade classmates wore this on the first day of school. The picture of a topless woman holding a beer in one hand and a bowling ball in the other led to some very awkward questions from my then-seven year old.

Disclaimer: This website is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “It Oughta Be Illegal…The School Edition

  1. I’m totally with you on the teacher gift given separately from the joint class gift! It’s infuriating and heartbreaking to see kids feel badly about not having a gift to give when they are too young to understand that they did give a gift. Maybe it’s odd that it gets me more riled up than corporal punishment in schools, but I only have experience with one of these things and corporal punishment in school seems so outdated.

    1. Glad I am not the only one miffed about the deviations from the joint class gift. I can’t believe any schools still use corporal punishment. Thankfully it’s not an issue with my kids and their school.

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