Today’s mid-morning session on ending corporal punishment in schools turned out to be equal parts informational and entertaining. Texas State Representative Dr. Alma Allen and Louisiana State Representative Barbara Norton were more than willing to cover some of the achievements they had already made within their State laws- and what their plans are for the next step.
Dr. Allen, a former schoolteacher and administrator from Houston, has been serving since 2004 and has been a steady voice in campaigning for an end to corporal punishment in Texas schools. Her presentations was part recent history and part motivational speech- the accompanying slideshow gave a detailed breakdown of the diligence, innovation, and outright political maneuvering needed to pass anti-C.P. laws. (One example was her choice to abandon the term ‘anti-C.P.’ altogether, instead going for using ‘Parental Rights’. This was a seemingly inconsequential but important step in getting her bill passed.) She recalled her many challenges with great humor and a positive outlook, such as how in the beginning she only had one ally within the Texas House, and had to go up against a house of 150 Representatives- 101 of whom were Republican, some who were apparently not even aware that corporal punishment was still taking place.
Rep. Norton had a story that took place on an overall smaller scale, but was nonetheless equally as important. Her talks with teachers in Caddo Parish (her district) left her in shock when she discovered that physical punishment was still taking place in the school system. A humorous if not slightly terrifying account of her direct confrontation with the local superintendent (“He had been there all of three months…I don’t think he was expecting to see someone like me with blood in her eyes,”) was one of the highlights of the session.
“School isn’t set up to raise children, it’s here to teach children!” said Norton.
A simultaneous lecture on strategies towards ending C.P. in Homes featuring Dr. Joan Durrant, Milena Grillo, Peter Newell, and Mali Nilsson took place in the Continental Room here at the Fairmont.
The conference wrapped up around noon in the Gold Room with closing remarks and the passing of a resolution banning corporal punishment by an emotional Dr. George Holden, who was proud to have chaired this conference but at the same time was ‘very relieved’ that the next Summit would have someone else chairing it. He announced that a second Summit would take place in two years in another country, although an exact location had not been determined as of yet. (The possibility of an African country was mentioned.) Much comment was given to the usage of social networking and technology to keep the movement alive and running throughout the next few years.
The final minutes were spent rounding up multiple resolutions and ideas created in the ‘break-out’ sessions that took place throughout the conference. These included terms and ideals such as multi-faith dialogue, hardline U.S. support, a unified language/standpoint on the subject, information accuracy, and most of all, a call for a direct and encompassing ban on corporal punishment in not just the home and the school but in all facets of human life.
I believe that that just about wraps things up for this blog. Again, I’d like to thank Dr. Holden for giving me the chance to cover such an important summit, and I feel that I’m walking away with a lot more information about a subject that quite honestly doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. I believe that this first Global Summit has potential to be only the first stepping stone for something much larger, and I’m looking forward to seeing the continuation and evolution of this movement. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and I wish you all good luck!
A couple of final links for future news:
The Global Summit website will continue to stay up as well and will have more announcements and updates in the future.