Up until the peanut farmer got elected and started giving everything away - including discipline - that's exactly what it was, and America was smarter and stronger for it.
We didn't have "Attention Deficit Disorder" as a lingering condition either. There was a cure, and it worked. You were told what to do and how to do it in minute detail once. If you didn't respond with appropriate level of action, the general tendency was to find yourself in a heap over at the side somewhere, usually massaging that fresh welt upside your thick head. That's what was known - for reasons unexplained - as an "ass-whuppin'." You generally didn't have to roll across the livingroom/classroom floor more than about twice before the lesson took.
Being a kid was a lot like being a "raw maggot" in Marine Corps boot camp (so-called because of where that "boot" was found oftentime). Those of you that have cycled through know the drill. Those who don't need to rent and watch Full Metal Jacket, then pick up from here. Those who didn't get with the program were recycled through the grade they failed, not just passed on stupid as dirt like they are now. Those who chronically failed washed out as "incorigible", a word that, translated from the Latin root, means "too fuckin' dumb to do much more than breathe." Trouble-makers and hard-cases were dealt with, in graduatingly higher levels of severity adjusted to their chronic tendencies, until their attention was acquired. I was a hard-case who had to spend lots of time with the trouble-makers who made my life almost as miserable as the teachers.
The judiciary went something like this: First offense, ass-whuppin' from teacher. Second offense, same as first, then sent to principal's office for additional ass-whuppin'. Third offense, same as second plus the dreaded "referral". This was a triplicate, multicolor form describing your transgressions in detail that went home with you to insure you got another ass-whuppin' from your parents, with a signed copy that had to be returned the next day. By that time, you were either docile or patae! Given how human nature distorts in the authoritarian gravitational field of absolute power, the schools were diligent in their "application of the board of education to the seat of higher learning."
I don't know who Jimmy Carter appointed Secretary of Education, but I'm guessing it was Dr. Spock, or some similar mealy-mouthed, spineless putz. At first, it seemed like a Godsend: No more ass-whuppin's at all, and they were even tossing around the idea of giving your parents an ass-whuppin' if they tried to give you one! For a while us hard-cases thought Christ had returned and the Millennial Peace was on...until the trouble-makers proved to us otherwise.
Since nobody was getting any ass-whup at school, and the trouble-makers' parents were either drunk, in prison or both and couldn't deliver at home, they were the ones reigning now, with no hindrance whatsofuckingever! Taking the paddles away from the teachers did not take brass knuckles, switch-blades and other armament from the trouble-makers. Fortunately for everyone else, most the trouble-makers discovered pot about the end of middle school, and pretty much tranquilized themselves right off our backs and out of reality...One in particular who shall remain nameless took such a "chronic" interest and fascination with other chemicals he damn-near pacified himself into the marble orchard.
Today the inmates are running the asylum. If you're a school teacher in certain parts of Los Angeles, New York City or Chicago, you need a bullet-proof vest and a Kevlar helmet to make sure you get through the work day alive. Some put in metal detectors, security doors and armed guards, to where school looks more like an airport or prison. Other educators have taken to more, shall we say, "intimate relations" with their students, of which the headlines exploit from time to time. The emerging phenomenon of the no-paddle, yes-prescription classroom are addle-brained robokids with a new kind of chemical dependence constantly being labeled "autistic"; especially little boys that act like what they are instead of geldings. Sparing the rod isn't merely spoiling the child, it's turning him into a freaking vegetable.
Ever try to teach algebra to a head of cauliflower?