Roy Exum: Good Handwriting Is Crucial

Sunday, August 24, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Put me down as a strong proponent of Tennessee’s new law that will require handwriting – the art of cursive penmanship – to be mandatory for our elementary schools. Keyboarding, or what we used to call “typing class,” is part of the Common Core curriculum in most states but handwriting is not considered a necessary part of a third grader’s education.

Sandra Wilde, according to a recent story by Reuter’s news agency, is – get this -- the chairperson of the National Council of Teachers of English Elementary Section Steering Committee. I’m not kidding – that’s what the committee is called and the name itself sounds like a joke. That’s not good English and I’m not even an expert.

That aside, Sandra told Reuters: “I don’t think (penmanship classes) are bad, but I don’t think there is much of a point to it.” She thinks it will take time away from touch typing, which she sees as very important. She also thinks penmanship requirements are more of an effort by conservative states to “put their own stamp on the school system in a reaction to Common Core,” according to the Reuter’s story

My view, on the other hand, is that for the great part of one’s day people in America are away from their keyboards but almost all of the people I know have a pen and a piece of paper that are handy. In order to touch type, you have to have a keyboard but whether you are writing a service order, a traffic citation, a love letter, or an excuse from gym class, a person must have handwriting that is readable and effective.

Common Core? Nope, common sense.

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It is interesting that support for the police officer who shot an alleged unarmed robbery suspect in Ferguson, Mo., has raised more money for his defense than Michael Brown’s family has on the website GoFundMe. Two pages were opened last Sunday and, thus far, support for patrolmen Darren Wilson has raised $235,000 from 5,900 people across America while Brown’s family has been given $165,000 from roughly the same number of contributors.

More revealing are the radically different comments that accompany the donations. “I’m tired of seeing our children cut down like dogs,” wrote a Brown supporter while a Wilson empathizer countered, “I just want him and his family to know how much we care and believe he did the right thing and he’s not alone in this.”

* * *

The annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration got off to a rocky start in Shelbyville this weekend after 59 members of Congress wrote U.S. Department of Agriculture head Tom Vilsack demanding his inspectors “undertake a substantial and active on-the-ground role to ensure strict enforcement” against the rampant soring that has soured the industry.

Public perception of the grotesque “Big Lick” has decimated the crowds in recent years and a current bill in Congress and in the Senate to strengthen the federal Horse Protection Act will probably not be acted upon until after the November election. Senator Lamar Alexander and Tennessee’s Republican representatives are trying to stall the bill but there are already majorities in both the House and the Senate for the bill to pass.

According to one source, USDA inspectors performered 38 inspections of randomly-chosen horses on Thursday night at the celebration and 21 were disqualified.

* * *

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration gave public notice it is clamping down on America’s prescription drug epidemic earlier this week. In 45 days, as required by law, prescriptions for opioids such as hydrocodone will now be limited to a 90-day supply and cannot be refilled without a return visit where the patient must be personally seen by a physician – not a nurse or a physician’s assistant.

Between 1999 and 2010 deaths due to prescription drug overdose tripled in the United States but the sales of brand names like Vicodin and Lortab increased four-fold. Yet in 2012 doctors alone wrote 125 million prescriptions for medicines containing the highly-addictive hydrocodone, making it the No. 1 most prescribed drug in the country.

* * *

The women’s soccer team at the University of New Mexico was forced to cancel a game against Texas Tech the other day because of an investigation over hazing. Two team members were reportedly hospitalized after freshmen on the team were sprayed with urine, forced to strip naked and forced to consume large amounts of alcohol. Isn’t that swell. I say cancel the season and send those responsible back home for good. We are better than that …

 royexum@aol.com


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