Preble students submit anti-corporal punishment bill to Congress

Former Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D., guided students through process

Last year, Preble social studies teacher Jeff Kline wanted his 9th graders to research national issues and create a new federal law. Then-Representative Steve Kagen, M.D. offered to work with the kids and offer his Capitol Hill know-how of the legislative process. What has resulted is the collaborative work of Kagen and five social studies classes known as H.R. 3027, or “The Abolishment of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Act 2011,” in an effort to ban corporal punishment in schools.

The bill summary states: In order to aid in the overall well being of children attending public schools; this bill provides that no teacher or staff member of any public school can use any form of corporal punishment as a means of punishment or as a way to change behavior.

Corporal punishment is allowed in 21 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

The students’ research discovered Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced a similar piece of legislation a year earlier that did not find much success beyond the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Through Kagen, the students’ bill proposal was brought to Representative McCarthy’s office this past spring. Last week, Congresswoman McCarthy submitted the legislation on September 22 for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives. Six other congressional representatives are co-sponsoring the bill: Michael Capuano (D-MA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Bob Filner (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Robert Scott (D-VA).

“The wonder of the American democracy is any citizen can have an influence over federal law,” said Jeff Kline, Preble High School social studies teacher. “These students have created a bill, and through the help of current and former Congressional representatives, may very well have helped to establish a national law.”

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