Here’s the link to the column that ran July 9, 2014 in Bluffton Today.
Here’s the text
When signatures equal budget dollars, they’re just not worth it
It’s tough letting go. I’m not one that’s much for change.
I might have gone in to Blockbuster eight times over its time in Bluffton but it felt like a major loss when it closed. I loved The Pig and wrote the corporate owners to tell them how stupid they were when they closed ours.
And when Badabings suddenly closed on S.C. 46, I swore up and down that I’d never go to its replacement — and then inexplicably proceeded to feel sad when Napoli closed its doors a couple weeks back.
So when the movement began all across the country to get rid of cursive writing instruction in schools, I was crushed. This isn’t a store closing or a new way to fold the bathroom towels. This was major change.
Cursive writing felt like a basic rite of passage that was just the latest victim of our seemingly never-ending need to cut school budgets and play roulette with our country’s future.
Well, for once, I was on the same page as a politician. Gov. Nikki Haley brought back cursive writing in a big way by signing the Back to Basics in Education Act last month.
Beaufort County elementary schools never stopped teaching cursive, but state standards have not required cursive in five years.
Now, instead of just teaching it in second and third grade, there will be guidelines and statewide assessments to make sure students are mastering the writing style.
I appreciate our school administrators fighting for cursive. Good for you, Gov. Haley, right?
Wrong. This whole cursive thing is a waste of time and money. Sometimes, change is good and necessary. It goes against every fiber of my being to say that, but we need to take the emotions out of this argument.
And that’s what this is, folks. This fight for cursive is an emotional reaction. I saw Brian Williams telling me that this basic rite of passage was going away and it felt wrong. You’re taking away my youth. You’re making me obsolete and you’re making my kids into mindless robots.
Step back and think about it. When is the last time you actually used cursive writing? And yes, Sun City friends, I know you’re shaking your head right now. Many of you still write hand-written notes and that’s beautiful and it’s something I want to pass on to my kids because that personal touch means so much more than hitting keys on a keyboard.
But is that worth adding expenses at the cost of other more necessary programs? I would say there was never fat in a school budget, but we are truly at a time when administrators are forced to make “keep this, cut that” decisions that alter our kids’ futures like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
We can’t afford waste, and money spent to teach cursive is waste.
Friends say to me, “How will our kids sign documents?” Oh, the horror.
Have you seen your friend’s signature lately? It’s not cursive. It’s some indescribable lazy mutation of that art.
Technology has evolved that makes that chicken scratch for us. Electronic signatures are becoming more and more the norm and by the next generation, it will be the standard.
So, what else then? Tell me one other thing we use cursive for. There’s nothing.
Listen, that signature might be enough to make the argument. With identify theft running rampant in our world today, it may just be necessary enough to warrant these costs.
I never thought I’d be making this argument. On an emotional level, it bothers me that my 11-year-old doesn’t know how to sign his name. This basic thing we learned in past generations is a relic in today’s world.
This isn’t a popular sentiment, but oddly enough, it’s a stance that county education executives are voicing. That’s how dire our state of funding education is.
We’re forcing educators to argue against long-established basics because they know that in today’s world, any monies spent teaching cursive could be put to better use to promote skills that have long-term real-world application.
This opens up a Pandora’s box of sorts when it comes to these choices. I’d argue that algebra and calculus should be next — and not just because I’d rather eat feces-flavored dirt than ever take another algebra class.
Same argument as cursive — it’s a useless skill for most of society. Once a kid determines he’s going down an engineering/computer science career path, then work that in. But that’s an argument for another day.
I get it. To say cursive isn’t worth it, it somehow invalidates our life experience, makes us feel old and increasingly obsolete.
I’d argue that having the guts to make this decision makes us relevant and responsible guardians of the future.
I take pride that I can have a decipherable signature. That pride shouldn’t be a line item in a school budget.
Tim Wood is a writer living in Bluffton. Email him with comments or story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.