the LA language law article

Dennis Baron debaron at NTX1.CSO.UIUC.EDU
Wed Jun 16 17:05:04 UTC 1999


Bill will force kids to act with class
by Kevin McGill
Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. - Respect is about to become the law in Louisiana's
The Legislature is on the verge of passing Gov. Mike Foster's bill requiring
students to address teachers and other school employees as "ma'am" or "sir"
or use the appropriate title of Mr., Miss, Ms. or Mrs.
It could be the first such law in the nation.
Lest it be dismissed as a knee-jerk answer to the recent violence at
Columbine High and other schools, the Republican governor stressed: "It's
something I've been thinking about for a long time."
The Senate approved the bill, 34-5, last month, the House, 89-19, this week.
A final Senate vote on House amendments could take place some time before
Monday night when the Legislature adjourns.
The bill leaves it up to school boards to decide the punishment, though the
House eliminated expulsion or suspension.
Around the country, some school systems require parents or students to sign
codes of discipline. Some states, notably Arkansas and Georgia, require
"character education," teaching honesty, fairness and respect for others.
But Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform in
Washington, said she knows of no other such attempt to require respectful
conversation through state law.
"We're not trying to say this is the answer to discipline, but what do we
have to lose?" said the bill's Senate sponsor, Donald Cravins, a Democrat.
Many teachers and students are skeptical.
"It's not going to solve our problems," said Mark Teal, a 14-year teacher in
the town of Sulphur. "I believe our problems will be solved in the homes."
Asia Ayman, an eighth-grader in New Orleans, said: "Kids don't respect their
parents at home. What makes them think they're going to go to school and
respect their teachers?"
But retired teacher Jean Kennedy of New Orleans said she likes the idea.
"I agree with those who say you can't really legislate respect," she said,
"but I think it's a good idea to try whatever method there might be to raise
the consciousness of students and parents, and this may be a way of doing
The bill would apply to kindergarten through fifth grade in the school year
that starts this fall. Higher grades would be phased in one year at a time.
Two years ago, Louisiana enacted the nation's first covenant marriage law,
which lets couples choice a type of marriage license that makes it more
difficult to get divorced. Louisiana also has adopted some of the most
restrictive abortion laws in the nation.  <<...>>
[taken from the Phila. Daily News website:; similar stories
at CNN, etc.]

Dennis Baron, Head                               debaron at
Department of English                         phone: 217-333-2390
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.                                      fax:217-333-4321
Urbana, Illinois 61801

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