No. 516



Did I ever tell you about the time the high school principal gave me 27 licks with a paddle for mocking the English teacher? His name was Bill Little. Some of my friends who read this column in the Lincoln Ledger in Gould and Star City, the county seat town where it's published, will probably relate to this true, but painful story. In fact, some of them probably traveled down the same road. Those were the days when you sure did not want to go back to the principal's office for the second or third time. I was slow in many things, but I was a fast learner when it came to taking that short trip, just down the hall to the principal's office. However, I can truthfully say he was always nice about it.

This incident came to mind as I was reading a recent e-mail from Brenda Strickling, a faithful reader of my column in Centerville, Iowa. Brenda is working hard to get our literacy campaign started in her community and recently she sent me something her husband Larry had written. It was titled, "The True Board of Education." I will share his article in a moment, but ironically Larry and I both graduated from high school the same year, but he graduated from Ravenna High School in Ravenna, Ohio. Now, granted, this was from a different era, but I can tell you from experience, if we went back to those days we would not have the discipline problems many of our schools are having today.

Here is what Larry Strickling wrote and titled it, "The True Board of Education:"

"In days gone by, the Board of Education ruled supreme in all schools. All students were in awe of its power and the administration of this power; some were even in fear of this supreme power. Most schools had an in-house administrator who exerted this power when required; usually the principal of said school. As you have probably surmised by now, the "True-Board" was literally a board hand-crafted for a perfect fit to the hand of the administrator, about two feet in length with many holes drilled into the business end of the board. Anyone who met this board was never anxious for another meeting! Woe be unto the repeat offender. (This is what I was saying earlier.)

I must confess my days in school were in the 1940s and 1950s, graduating in 1956. I still remember Mr. Stewart, the grade-school principal at West Main. He was the sixth-grade teacher and had an office on the second floor. Anytime he took a pupil into this office, you could hear a pin drop until they finally emerged. Everyone was expecting the usual "WHACK-WHACK." Mr. Watters, our junior and senior high principal commanded a similar authority over all students and was also well represented by the Board of Education.

The event burned into my memory is an incident that happened in shop class; the teacher was also the head football coach. A cardinal rule in shop was absolutely NO horseplay. One day the coach was late getting to class and two classmates were playing tag around the workbenches. One of them heard the coach coming and stopped dead in his tracks, the other did not. Needless to say the coach was not happy when he entered the shop and one of his football players was running. He called him in front of the whole class, told him to grab his ankles and administered the board of education (he had a paddle hand made personally, the best there ever was.). Bill stood up and smiled at the coach. Mr. Gilchrest told him to grab his ankles again, for he must not have gotten the message. Another lick was applied that lifted Bill at least a foot off the floor. To Bill's credit he never shed a tear when standing back up Ð but he didn't smile this time." He concludes by saying, "Our Boards of Education, properly applied, kept many students toeing the line."

Now I ask, is it time to bring back the TRUE Board of Education? Thanks Larry, for sharing your memories from a bygone era. For many people who will read this column across the country, this kind of thinking is old fashioned. However, you and I both know that it works.

Unless we have some drastic changes in our nation's court system, these days are gone forever, but there may be hope down the road. When conditions reach critical mass, more and more people begin to look for solutions to our social and economic problems. Outside of the spiritual realm, the answer lies in education and the values we are teaching our nation's young people. This will determine the kind of nation we will leave to future generations of Americans. Even if it means that my own grandchildren would get a few licks here and there, I would love to see our schools return to this system of discipline. Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)