The Satanic Temple’s controversial efforts to eliminate corporal punishment in Springtown ISD have at least one alumni supporter.
Dustin Cannon said he contacted the Temple after reading news coverage about the billboard and anti-paddling campaign and offered his support.
The Satanic Temple Wednesday put up a sign in Parker County notifying the Springtown community they have launched a campaign to protect students from corporal punishment.
Alongside The Satanic Temple logo, the billboard reads “Never be hit in school again. Exercise your religious rights.”
The Satanic Temple is a national organization with local chapters with a mission to “reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.”
The group believes that religion should be divorced from superstition and does not promote a belief in a personal Satan.
Springtown ISD’s paddling practices made national news in 2012 when Assistant Principal Kirt Shaw paddled two high school girls, leaving bruises that lasted a week on a 16-year-old girl and “welts, blisters and bruises” on a 15-year-old, according to the girls’ parents.
The administrator was found to have repeatedly violated the school district’s policy, which, at the time, allowed only persons of the same gender to paddle students.
However, in response, the school board opened up its policy to allow for men to discipline girls as long as a woman was present and vice versa.
The 2016-17 student handbook currently requires parents to opt out in writing if they do not want their child spanked.
Cannon, who now lives in Richardson, said he attended Springtown ISD from 6th grade until he graduated in 1988.
“I just don’t think that it’s appropriate in this day and age,” Cannon told the Democrat.
“I think instead of trying to give them these negative roles as basically hitting them to get them to do what we want them to do, it’s not appropriate,” Cannon said. “I think the teachers should find more positive ways to influence them.”
Cannon said he also believes that some children going to school terrified of corporal punishment is impacting their education.
“I just don’t think it’s appropriate for a non-parent, basically a government bureaucrat, to decide whether or not they can spank your child and not even really talk to you about it,” Cannon.
Cannon recalled that school staff were very reliant on corporal punishment when he attended three decades ago.
“At the time I was there – I don’t know what the situation is now – it was totally pervasive,” Cannon said. “It wasn’t just the vice principal could give you a spanking, it was any coach, any teacher. And they could do it at any time without any discussion with the parents or whatever.”
Cannon recalled one time he was in PE class.
“The coach decided that people were doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Cannon said. “He literally lined everybody up in the middle of the gym and got a chair and a paddle and started spanking one at a time. And here I was, I don’t remember exactly how old I was, maybe 16 or 17, literally receiving a paddling, abuse, in school for having literally done nothing.”
Cannon said he believes that parents who are OK with their child being paddled by school staff don’t realize how much its being used and how it is used as a crutch instead of figuring out more positive methods of dealing with children’s behavior.
He finds it surprising that corporal punishment hasn’t been abolished at Springtown ISD.
“I think it gives the town a black eye and it really doesn’t help in any way, shape or form,” Cannon said.