Chicken-Fried News: Board games 

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The relationship between educators and the elected officials who set the rules and budget with which the educators operate has always been a little strained. But when was the last time Oklahoma saw the two sides so polarized?

As Oklahoma City teachers were preparing to strike and business-minded lawmakers cried extortion, Rep. John Bennett, the Capitol’s one-man public relations nightmare, offered a new and crispy hot take on the real root of this state’s education challenges.

“Money is not the number one issue,” Bennett said on the House floor as lawmakers debated revenue measures that would lead to a teacher pay increase. “Maybe if we spanked our kids at home a little better with a paddle, made them mind and be good kids, the teachers wouldn’t have it so hard in the classroom.”

Oh, right. Oklahoma has teachers panhandling on the side of the road because Johnny has not been taught to respect his elders through the use of sheer disciplinary force. When questioned about his statements by a KFOR reporter later, Bennett stood by his comments, saying he tells all of his children’s teachers to paddle them if they misbehave.

“If they get out of line after that,” the Sallisaw Republican told Channel 4, “call me and I’ll come up and paddle them in front of the whole class because they will not disrespect their elders or teachers in school.”

Bennett sounds like someone desperately trying to divert attention from the funding crisis at hand. Then again, his history of questionable statements makes it seem like this could be a perfectly valid point in his mind.

When interviewed by KFOR, Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, said the comments, coming from Bennett, did not necessarily surprise her. But she also said they were nonetheless inappropriate.

“One of the reasons why I perked up is because I did grow up in domestic violence,” she said. “I was a child who was abused, and there is never a time that it’s appropriate to say something like that, especially as an elected leader in our state on the House floor.”

Bennett stepped out of line, you say? By his own logic, doesn’t that earn him a paddling? Violence is out of the question in the mind of Chicken-Fried News, but if Bennett wants to stand by his own convictions and volunteer for a public whooping on the House floor, far be it from us to stop him.


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