Senate passes weaker

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 26, 2000

version of ‘yes, ma’am’ bill


Staff Writer

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Alabama senators want students to be respectful of teachers by using "ma’am" and "sir."

Parents tend to agree, but wonder what the consequences will be.

This past week, the Senate voted 23-0 in favor of a weaker version of Gov. Don Siegelman’s "yes, ma’am" legislation.

The watered-down version does not punish students who don’t use the old Southern terms of respect.

Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, worked on a compromise with the governor to delete the requirement that school boards establish displinary policies for the students who don’t use the mandated courteous addresses.

"We’ve watered it down a good bit, but the governor wanted to pass it," the bill’s sponsor Sen. Larry Means, D-Attalla, said.

The legislation, which still has to pass the House of Representatives, would require students in kindergarten through fifth grade to address public school employees with terms, such as "yes, ma’am" or "no, sir" or using "yes" and "no" followed by the employee’s name like "yes, Mr. Jones."

School boards will also have the option to enact policies requiring students in sixth through 12th grade to use the terms of respect.

Marianne Gralheer taught her two sons to use "yes, ma’am" and "no, sir" at an early age and believes they are in the minority.

"I just think it shows respect," Gralheer said.

However, like many other parents, she doesn’t know how teachers will enforce it.

Kathy Pugh looks at the issue with the eyes of a parent and an educator.

"I think it’s a good idea," the Banks teacher said. "I just think it’s going to be awfully hard to enforce."

She said "it’s not a bad idea," but politeness is something that should be learned at home.

Siegelman is pleased the Senate passed the bill with such overwhelming support and hopes the House will follow suit, the governor’s press secretary Carrie Kurlander said.

"The idea of the legislation is to reinforce respect," she said, adding Siegelman believes "good old fashion values" will carry individuals further in life.