Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this historic moment. On Wednesday, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed HB 172, a bill which will eliminate corporal punishment in public schools across the state.
With her signature, Governor Susana Martinez made New Mexico the 31st state to ban this unjust act and demonstrated her commitment to protect New Mexico's 330,000 schoolchildren. I agree with the Governor when she stated that "[t]he decision on whether or not to use corporal punishment on a child is one that is best left to a parent," as it surely doesn't belong in the hands of a school administrator.
Starting July 1, students will go to school in an environment that is free from fear of the paddle.
The tide is changing. The worm is turning. The time has come to abolish corporal punishment throughout this great nation of ours, ending the threat of children being hit by adults and freeing children from the hostile environment this threat creates.
I believe that children must be free to learn in safe and nurturing environments free from fear. They must trust that we are providing schools that are safe for them to be inquisitive and explore as they learn and grow. And it's not just me saying that, but more than 50 national organizations agree, having called for the ban on corporal punishment -- time and again.
It is great to know that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan agrees. Last month at the White House, Sec. Duncan said: "My wife and I have two young children. We want them to learn every day in school, but to do that, they must feel safe first. You cannot do your best or concentrate academically if you are scared."
It for these reasons that I launched the Unlimited Justice* campaign. My instinct was that people across the country want to engage their elected officials directly about education reform issues. When the Unlimited Justice iPhone app hit the #1 spot for free education downloads during our launch week at SXSW, we never dreamed how fast we could activate the public to get their voices heard by those in power. A blizzard of calls, faxes and emails, along with Facebook messages and tweets, took their toll on the New Mexico Senate and the Governor's office that their constituents wanted the law changed.
This new day for New Mexico's schoolchildren could not have been achieved without the tireless efforts of folks like Representative Rick Miera and Senator Cynthia Nava, whose leadership pushed the bill through a legislature divided on this issue. Additionally, parents and activists made their voices heard and led their elected officials to be responsive to their desires. To all, your collective dedication to the protection of children is inspiring.
My hope is New Mexico will serve as a positive example to the parents, educators and especially the elected officials in the remaining 19 states that still allow this form of taxpayer-funded child abuse. Join me and the thousands of others in the Unlimited Justice* campaign to end corporal punishment in America's schools.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming: YOU'RE NEXT!
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