Texas lawmakers voted against parental approval for corporal punishment Wednesday, allowing schools to spank students with or without parents' say.
Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, said she personally doesn't believe in corporal punishment and noted that it's no longer practiced in the state's largest school districts, but said she wasn't trying to end the practice.
"This is a parental rights bill," Allen said. "I do not like corporal punishment, but this bill does not abolish it."
An amendment from Todd Smith, R-Euless, would have allowed parents to give approval just once instead of requiring contact every time their children act up.
Conservatives, however, rallied against giving parents the final say over educators.
"One of the biggest problems teachers faced is discipline in the schools," said Bill Zedler, R-Arlington. He said "spit-wads and that sort of thing" were the biggest problems in classrooms 30 or 40 years ago and that teachers face much more serious discipline problems now. "The very parents who will allow schools to use corporal punishment are the ones that have good discipline at home," he said. "Then we expect the teacher to teach and then at the same time we're taking all the tools away."
"This is not abolishing corporal punishment," Allen reiterated. "This is a parental rights bill."
Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, said the schools should have a uniform set of rules so they don't have to keep track of which children can face which kind of punishment when they misbehave. Allen, a former teacher and school administrator, disagreed.
"Every child that has ever entered my building or my classroom was different and ought to be treated as an individual," she said.
Republicans were split, but they accounted for almost all of the opposition, with 71 of the 73 "no" votes coming from the GOP. Among the ayes, there were 24 Republicans and 45 Democrats.