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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Oklahoma Bill on Corporal Punishment

In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

María Luisa Paúl at WP:
Oklahoma state Rep. John Talley thought his bill to bar schools from spanking children with disabilities would find little to no opposition at the state’s legislature. After all, the Republican lawmaker said he had fielded calls with dozens of families and educational groups, drawn inspiration from his personal experience and received support from colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Yet on Tuesday, what seemed like a rare bipartisan moment quickly came crashing down as other Republican lawmakers invoked the Bible to argue against Talley’s House Bill 1028, claiming in some instances that “God’s word is higher than all the so-called experts,” as Rep. Jim Olsen posited during the proposed legislation’s debate. The bill wound up with 45 votes in favor and 43 against — six short of the 51 it needed to pass.

“Several scriptures could be read here. Let me read just one, Proverbs 29: ‘The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,’” Olsen said. “So that would seem to endorse the use of corporal punishment.”

The problem with that assessment, Talley told The Washington Post, was that it conflated his bill with an overall ban on corporal punishment. House Bill 1028 would specifically prohibit schools from using that measure on “any student identified with a disability in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.” The current state law bars the punishment — which includes slapping, spanking or paddling — for children with “the most significant cognitive disabilities,” unless the student’s parents allow it through a waiver.

A minister himself, Talley also disagreed with Olsen’s religious interpretation.

“Why don’t we follow all the other Old Testament laws?” Talley said. “There’s about 4,000 of them, and one of them is to not allow wives to wear jewelry, or stone your child if they’re disobedient. Why don’t we do that? Because we pick and choose what we want to follow.”