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Common Core Curricula - Killing Cursive

February 17, 2011 by jenni

Clearly ROPE does not support the adoption of the Common Core Curriculum Standards which were adopted by the Oklahoma State Legislature in SB 2033 - a bill produced at the last of the 2009-2010 session as a 'drop in' for all the education reforms necessary for Oklahoma to be a Race To The Top recipient.

No, we did not get RTT funds, but we did get the Common Core Curriculum Standards and now, no way to pay for their implementation in a budget year for our state even tighter than the last.

Though you can find a position paper here on our website directed specifically at informing legislators and tax payers as to why we believe the CCS should be repealed (http://www.restoreokpubliceducation.com/node/631), we have neglected to include a few pieces of information along the way.

1. Cursive will be completely done away with in the new standards. http://abcnews.go.com/US/end-cursive/story?id=12749517
http://www.ketv.com/news/26589464/detail.html
Studies have shown that cursive helps train a number of very important developmental milestones. At the bottom of the article you will find two opinion pieces that explain the rational for teaching cursive and why its loss will derogatorily effect students in Oklahoma.

2. We keep forgetting this point, but federal curriculum is unconstitutional as it violates the 10th Amendment of state sovereignty and is actually against a (http://www.restoreokpubliceducation.com/node/513)
thirty-five year old federal law (20 USC 1232a – Sec. 1232a.) that declares “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system.” http://vlex.com/vid/prohibition-against-federal-control-19195093

Interestingly, but even the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which has been reauthorized EIGHT times since its inception in 1965 explicitly forbids the establishment of a national curriculum. As mandated in the Act, the funds are authorized for professional development, instructional materials, resources to support educational programs, and parental involvement promotion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_and_Secondary_Education_Act

3. Nine other states have decided - for one reason or another (mainly money) - not to adopt the CCCS:
Hawaii, Texas, South Carolina, Maine, Nebraska, Washington state, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota (http://www.corestandards.org/in-the-states)

Why do we keep instituting federal mandates that are illegal? Makes one wonder....

Is Cursive Handwriting Worth the Time and Effort?

by Mary Lou Bruner, M. Ed.
1-26-2011

It is very difficult for me to understand how educators could even think about doing away with instruction in cursive writing in schools. Maybe they will also decide to do away with standard spelling. That would make just as much sense in my opinion.

Reversals are impossible in Cursive Writing.

I have a master's degree in special education. In my college coursework I learned that one of the things which helps learning disabled children is cursive writing. Dyslexic children often confuse "b" and "d" in print form, but it is almost impossible to reverse these letters in cursive. Those two letters are completely different in cursive writing.

Cursive writing trains the eyes and brain to move from left to right.

Cursive writing flows from left to right. It is impossible to write backwards in cursive. Is it a co-incidence that reading also flows from left to right? Cursive writing helps children train their eyes and brains to be better and faster readers.

Cursive writing enhances learning.

In teacher training courses we have learned that children learn in many ways. Some seem to depend more upon visual stimuli while others seem to depend more upon auditory clues. But it has been my experience in teaching kindergarten and special education children that the greatest learning comes when more of the senses are involved in the learning experience. That is why kindergarten lesson plans often call for cooking and tasting which brings the senses of smell and taste into the learning experience.

Cursive writing is a tactile activity.

The sense of touch is probably more important to learning than taste or smell. When children write in cursive, they "feel" or "experience" the shape of the letters as they form them on paper. Physically forming the letters with the fingers seems to make an "imprint" upon the brain. When children have experienced the process of "coding" the words, I think it helps them to "decode" the words. Therefore a person might conclude cursive handwriting helps children learn to read.

Coding the words using a tactile activity is more meaningful than using a keyboard because all of the keys on the keyboard feel the same. The difference might be compared to looking at a picture of an object as opposed to seeing a model of the object or the "real" thing which a person can touch and feel.

There is probably much evidence that students who take notes are better learners than students who only depend on their memory. The actual process of writing might have a substantial influence on memory because to take notes a student must pay close attention to the lecture.

Often college students study by rewriting their notes. They might do this on the computer or they might rewrite their notes using handwriting. Rewriting notes requires a student to analyze and review what is important in the notes and that process alone probably helps the student learn for a test. There is a chance that typed notes might be better for some students and in some cases because typed print is easier to read and study. But some students might actually benefit more from the tactile experience of rewriting the notes using handwriting. It takes more time and thought to write the notes in handwriting, and the extra time plus the tactile experience might enhance learning for some students.

Many writers who experience "writer's block" might sometimes benefit from writing their text in handwriting. Somehow the thoughts seem to flow from the brain into the hands and fingers. I love to write, but I am nervous when speaking to a large group. I have found that just holding a pen in my hand while I am speaking helps me to communicate more clearly because somehow I know that with a pen in my hand I am ready.

Cursive handwriting is art.

At one time in history second and third grade teachers spent a great deal of time teaching children to gracefully form the cursive letters to look just like the letters in the handwriting manual. As those teachers taught the Palmer Method, they were teaching much more than handwriting. They were teaching art. They were teaching eye-hand coordination. They were teaching perseverance. They were teaching the art of striving for perfection. They were teaching self-pride. Later after third grade each child could customize his or her own handwriting, and develop his or her own personal signature. But the children had the basics firmly imprinted in their brains. I am not an artist, but it seems that the skills learned in handwriting would be similar to the eye-hand skills used by an artist. The eyes communicate to the brain what needs to be done and the brain tells the hands what to do to get the desired results.

Much of our history is recorded in cursive handwriting.
Our founding fathers did not sign the Declaration of Independence sloppily so we could not identify them by their signatures and hold them accountable. Our founding fathers proudly wrote their names so that all could read their names. But now our children might not be able to read what our founding fathers wrote because they wrote it in cursive. Just think what documents might look like in the future. We might not be able to read the names on the documents and/or the signatures might look very immature like the signatures of first graders trying to write in cursive when they have not been taught how to write in cursive.

The loss of cursive writing skills in future generations of Americans will be a great handicap. People looking at old documents written in cursive will only be able to recognize a few words here and there much as we are able to recognize only a few words here and there in documents such as the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales written in Middle English. You really cannot get much meaning from the documents when you can only recognize a few words here and there.

My training and background as a kindergarten teacher, special education teacher, and educational diagnostician leads me to believe that it is a huge mistake to ignore the importance of teaching cursive handwriting in the public schools of Texas. I believe the Texas State Board of Education included handwriting in the English-Lang.Arts-Reading curriculum which was developed three years ago.

If the federal government has its way, that curriculum developed in Texas will be thrown out in favor of the curriculum developed by experts and bureaucrats who believe handwriting has no value. The Back to Basics curriculum in Texas also included phonics and English grammar rules. Many "experts" do not value phonics and English grammar rules. Will the federal government also decide schools have no time to waste on phonics and English grammar skills? Though the value of technology cannot be ignored because so much can be accomplished through technology, we should never forget that a Back to Basis approach to learning is the best approach.

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