Bless their heart. Some lawmakers simply can not miss a chance to pat themselves on the back when the opportunity comes along. Even when what they propose is totally pointless.
In this case, Rep. Dickie Drake is plum swelled with pride that he got HB 218 passed. You see, even though the Alabama course of study says that cursive writing be taught in elementary school, Rep. Drake felt it critical that we pass legislation directing schools to do what they are already doing. Hence HB 218.
All I can figure is that somehow cursive writing has something to do with Alabama Values which politicians like to crow about. You know, the kind of values the governor and the Speaker of the House have put on display lately.
My friend and longtime educator, Charlotte Campbell of Gadsden, was so moved by Mr. Drake’s work on behalf of Alabama public schools, she penned the following:
On the last day of the 2016 legislative session, final passage came to House Bill 218, sponsored by Representative Dickie Drake; a bill that will create yet another assessment for teachers. The bill states that by the end of the third grade, students would be “certified” in legible cursive handwriting. Perhaps Mr. Drake failed to conduct any research, and Senator Dick Brewbaker failed as well when he encouraged the senate to pass this bill. If the governor signs the bill; it becomes law.
After getting over the shock of this pointless bill, I probed the research. According to Arnold Gesell, “Painstaking qualities did not always produce accurate writing; a tendency to scrawl or illegible handwriting has been frequently noted among more of genius of many countries and is by no means due to too much writing.” There were also differences in male and female outcomes. Havelock Ellis states in his research that handwriting may be “interpreted as an inherited physical trait”. We can all name brilliant people with terrible handwriting; Paganini, the great violinist, Beethoven, Napoleon, and Sigmund Freud, just to name a few. Physicians have always been touted about illegible handwriting?
The Alabama Course of Study states that handwriting including cursive will be taught in the elementary grades. Remediation is provided when necessary as it is in all disciplines/subjects. So, why does the legislature suddenly pass a bill requiring an assessment certified and sent to the Alabama State Department of Education?
A screenshot of Mr. Drake’s Facebook page demonstrates pride, “Today, I successfully passed legislation requiring cursive writing to be taught in all Alabama schools by the end of the 3rd grade and each school board must certify to the state board of education they are complying with this law.”
So the elected officials, once again, know more than the educators, the researchers, and are set on controlling Alabama Public Education. It would benefit classrooms across the state if the Alabama Legislature moved education from the #41 spot in funding into the top ten to ensure resources are in place to move from the bottom into the top ten in the nation.
Based on the research on handwriting, the legislators passing this bill must have a “perfect handwriting”.