"Sometimes holes were cut in the paddle to make the beating more painful."
The NYT has a piece on corporal punishment in public schools. Of the 300,000 students punished by being popped with a paddle in public schools in 2002-3, seventy percent were from 5 southern states: Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. The south just doesn't like change.
I was spanked growing up. It worked, and it didn't make me any more likely to punch someone on the playground. But I would not want a school principle to touch my child, especially with a wooden board.