In a rare moment of sanity at the Oklahoma capitol, the State House reversed course yesterday and overwhelmingly passed HB 1028, which would prohibit schools from using corporal punishment to discipline special needs students with “the most significant cognitive disabilities.”
Just a few days earlier, they voted down a broader measure that would prohibit hitting all special needs students by a 45 - 43 - 13 margin because you just never know when a school teacher will need to paddle a blind kid.
The more “toned-down” version of the bill easily passed through the house after, I guess, a large swath of conservative lawmakers didn't enjoy being associated with the negative headlines, optics, and outrage associated with voting down a bill that would prohibit adults from spanking, swatting and hitting special needs students with intellectual disabilities.
That being said, the measure didn’t pass without some healthy debate and opposition.
For example, State Rep Dell Kerbs – a lawmaker who looks like he owns a hot dog stand because he does in fact own a hot dog stand – voted against the measure because he thinks we should respect a parent's decision to allow school administrators to discipline their children with force:
Coney-Boy Kerbs was one of eight lawmakers to vote against the measure that would prohibit grown-ups from hitting children who have “limited conceptual skills, written language skills, and understanding of numerical concepts such as quantity, time, and money.”
Here’s the full list:
I thought about ranking those eight members of the Child Abuse Causus to see which one would be the most likely to be arrested on actual child abuse charges, and with all respect to Kenton Patzkowski of the Oklahoma panhandle, the runaway winner is State Rep. Kevin West.
Seriously, look at that disciplinarian! I’d hate to see his DHS case file! I bet he has a large collection of belts and willow trees in his closet just ready to be used on a special needs kid at any moment.
Surprisingly, Jim Olsen – the guy who voted against the previous bill thanks to his interpretations of ancient religious texts – changed course and voted for the toned-down bill.
Surprisingly, he didn’t cite which Bible verse changed his mind:
Anyway, although the bill they passed yesterday is a toned-down measure, it is nice to see some lawmakers show some common sense and actually vote to prohibit school-sanctioned violence on some special needs kids.
Sadly, though, there’s a chance lawmakers can change their minds after the pro-child abuse lobby gets to them: