An effort to reinstate corporal punishment in public schools barely failed Tuesday.
The proposal was in an amendment to a bill that would add cyberbullying to Oklahoma's anti-bullying laws.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives Common Education Committee passed House Bill 1661. It now goes to the full House.
An amendment allowing corporal punishment in the classroom failed 8-8. The amendment, by Rep. Doug Cox, would have allowed any teacher in a school district to use corporal punishment if at the teacher's discretion it is needed “to maintain discipline and order in the classroom.”
The amendment required the teacher to have parental permission.
In Oklahoma, corporal punishment is up to each district.
“An increasing number of school boards are outlawing corporal punishment, taking away the power of the teacher if the teacher sees fit to use corporal punishment as a tool to maintain proper decorum and discipline in the classroom that leads to a good learning environment,” said Cox, R-Grove.
“Part of a school's job is to prepare kids for life. Part of being successful in life is to know that if you have negative behavior that there's going to be negative consequences.”
Cox said he doesn't think in-school suspension is seen as punishment by students.
Cox isn't through seeking to reinstate corporal punishment in Oklahoma's public schools.
“I'm going to try to get it in every education bill I can,” he said.
Rep. Lee Denney, author of HB 1661, is making her second attempt in two years to get a cyberbullying bill passed. The House in 2011, after first approving it, defeated an amended version. Opponents said it was another mandate being placed on public schools and that parents and teachers can take of the problem.
Denney, R-Cushing, authored the bill because a child in her district, Ty Field, 11, shot and killed himself in 2010 after reportedly being bullied at school earlier in the day.
The House Common Education Committee voted 15-1 to pass Denny's latest version of the bill. It now goes to the full House.
Cyberbullying includes using cellphones, text messages and social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.
HB 1661 would cover messages, blogs, social media, online games and websites, whether or not the conduct originated at school, with school equipment or during school hours. It also requires that school districts develop policies that prohibit threatening behavior, harassment and bullying off school grounds if the behavior will disrupt or interfere with the education of any student.
“It used to just be somebody making a snide comment and you'd go home and tell your mom and she'd tell you to blow it off,” Denney said.
“But now it goes viral. The whole school can think this and think it to be true. This goes to ultimately keeping our kids safe as far as suicide prevention, violence among one another.”