Louisiana Law Requires Students to Show Respect

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNS) - Louisiana Republican Governor Mike Foster on Tuesday signed a law that will require public school students to address their teachers as "ma'am" and "sir," a measure many believe will instill respect among students who are forbidden to pray in the classroom.

"When religion was taken out of the classroom it also took away some character traits that are taught with religion, such as respect and timeliness, and nothing was put in its place," said Trey Williams, a spokesman for Foster, in an interview with CNSNews.com. "This is a good law to get these character traits back into the classroom."

Students must refer to all adults as Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss, or face disciplinary action. The law applies to kindergarten through fifth grades; then follow the fifth grade class through their graduation year.

Foster talked to some teachers and principals about the idea, which is standard for Catholic schools in the state and a requirement for most adults when they were growing up, before taking action. The law should be seen more as a good start rather than a save-all solution, the governor said.

"The surprising part of the whole thing is there hasn't been any opposition," Williams said. "I really think that the reason is because people are looking for solutions out there, and it doesn't cost the citizens of the state a penny."

"Hopefully this will set some ground rules for our schools that will begin to spill over in our homes. If it works in Louisiana, I suspect other states, especially in the South, will be quick to adopt a similar law," Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) told CNSNews.com.

Each school system will decide what punishment to administer if the kids do not follow the rules, Williams said. The law will be implemented only in the state's public schools.

"Even in Louisiana there will be some schools, particularly in inner-city areas, that may look the other way when it comes to the law, but this is the next best thing to knuckle rapping," Johnson said.

The governor had been talking about enacting the law before the school tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, which left 15 students dead.

"But when that happened, it reinforced the need for it," Williams told CNSNews.com.

"The governor believes that respect should be taught at home. But when it's not, the school has to pick up the responsibility, and that's what's happening here. Kids who are being taught respect at home are not going to have any problem with the law. The kids who moan and groan are the ones who are not taught this at home, and they're the ones that need it," Williams said.