OKLAHOMA CITY - In a letter to governors and state superintendents, the U.S. Secretary of Education is urging schools to end the use of corporal punishment.

Calling the practice, "harmful and ineffective", Secretary John King Jr. said in the letter sent on Tuesday it is "difficult for a school to be considered safe or supportive if its students are fearful of being physically punished" and telling school administrators physical discipline has “no place in public schools.”

However, according to the U.S. Department of Education, 22 states still use physical punishment where it's seen as a tradition and an effective way to handle unruly children as young as 4-years-old.

While the states in which the method discipline is legally allowed range from the upper west to the northeast to the deep south, the use of corporal punishment is most commonly used in the South, specifically Arkansas to Georgia.

In Oklahoma, the most common form of corporal punishment is spanking or paddling. While the state's two largest districts, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, have outlawed its use smaller and more rural school districts still reach for the paddle for punishment.

According to research from one state nonprofit, 587 schools still physically disciplined Oklahoma students.

In his letter, King said physical punishment creates aggressive behavior and lower academic performance, the same behavior it's meant to punish. It's also used more often, against students of color and those with disabilities. That trend follows other forms of non-corporal punishment, like suspension or expulsion as well.

The letter is only a suggestion and in Oklahoma corporal punishment is explicitly protected by law saying its use must be left up to districts. That means unless there's a widespread change, corporal punishment may be here to stay in the Sooner state.