Until recently, I was never sure when corporal punishment was eliminated from Spokane Public Schools.
I graduated from Spokane’s John Rogers High School in 1966 and paddling, sometimes called “hacking,” was used liberally at that time. Several of us students were the recipients of hacks throughout those years at Rogers, although my punishment usually resulted from false testimony spoken by my fellow classmates, or I was pulled down to their deplorable level due to my naïveté.
My mother recognized that I was a patsy and usually gave me a pass on my purported misbehaviors unless that misbehavior required her to meet with myself and the vice principal in his office, a dark chamber where he otherwise sweated out the confessions of misguided youth. You could literally smell the self-serving snitching that had been done in that room over the years.
Last week, the new incoming vice principal at Rogers High School, a Mr. Osborn, visited me at my home regarding a nondiscipline matter. He seemed very nice but he still made me nervous. He also made me want to call my mother and reassure her that it was not my fault. They still make vice principals in big packages. But what good is big if you can’t hack? Mr. Osborn departed my home without telling me to stand up straight and spit out my gum.
A couple of months ago, I purchased a box of old papers at an estate sale. A folder in that box contained a copy of a “Teacher’s Bulletin,” a top-secret information sheet issued to the faculty members at Rogers High School back on Feb. 10, 1967.
The bulletin topic for that day was “hacking,” or rather, the cessation of that vile practice. It seems that 1967 (one year after my graduation) was the year that Spokane public schools put the end to corporal punishment.
In the middle of the bulletin, after the faculty meeting times and before the announcement of picture retakes for the yearbook, the following words appeared: “Reminder of School Board Directive regarding corporal punishment … We are not to use the paddle … IN PLAIN LANGUAGE – DON’T HACK.”
Now, many of those who grew up in olden times, like my father, will tell you that the day the paddle was removed from high school was the beginning of all the behavior problems that plague America’s youth today. My father specifically cites those behavior problems several times throughout each day, i.e., those low-rider pants, drug use, gang violence, tattoos and hip-hop, although when questioned, he cannot tell you the difference between hip-hop and double-dutch.
Why didn’t the cessation of hacking in public school come sooner, or why wasn’t I born a few years later? The same with the military draft. Although I was not hacked in the Army, no one loved me there, either.
Perhaps the saddest part of all this is that I may have been the last student hacked before the end of paddling in the Spokane public schools, if the citing in this 1967 Rogers High teacher’s bulletin is accurate.
It didn’t have to happen.
The specifics of that dark day: Geometry teacher Joe Raymond administered two brutal hacks, in room 302 on the last day of classes in June 1966.
And in my defense, regarding the evidence of the crime for which that hacking occurred, there were no fingerprints taken and no DNA testing done.