Civitas Review

The Debate over Cursive Writing Is More than Academic


Here's what I can tell you: The honor code was the hardest part of the whole test (PSAT) . That's because it had to be written in cursive. The minute the teacher instructed the test-takers to write the one-sentence honor statement in cursive, audible gasps broke out in the room. Cursive? Most students my age have only encountered this foreign language in letters from grandma. Even then, kids take one look and hand the postcard to their parents for translation help.

Those are the words of Miss Emily Freeman.  She wrote them in a recent Wall Street Journal article.   Emily is a junior at Calvary Baptist Day School in Winston-Salem, NC.  Her words tell the story of what we are doing to our students as fewer schools teach cursive writing.  Yes, I know the legislature approved a bill requiring "that public schools provide instruction in cursive writing." They did the same for the teaching of  multiplication tables.  However we all know passing a law doesn't make the problem go away.  On the contrary, 41 states currently  do not require that students learn to read and write in cursive.  Common Core's emphasis on keyboarding and the fact that cursive will not be included on any testing may mean the problem may very well get worse.

But do students really need cursive writing?  What's the big deal if students can write?  Paula Bolyard explores that question in great article about just what is lost if we stop teaching cursive.   The debate about cursive is far from over. Neurologists and psychologists have long touted the benefits to learning (see here and here).

The truth is when we lose our ability to write and read in cursive we lose much of our ability to communicate; with others, and our past. When is that ever a good thing?

'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive?


The following chart is from a recent report produced by the Tax Foundation that examines the government's income redistribution via tax and spending policies. Interesting findings include:

  • Federal and state tax & spend programs take roughly $2 trillion of wealth from the top 40% of income earners  and give it to the bottom 60%.
  •  For an even more specific breakdown, the top 20% of income earners had $1.9 trillion of wealth taken by state and federal governments, of which just more than $1 trillion went to people in the  bottom 20% of income earners.
  • $2 trillion is nearly 1/8 of the entire U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)
  • Also according to the report, the average family in the bottom 20% of income earners receives on net about $27,000 annually in fed & state government benefits. (This naturally fuels the cycle of poverty, as families dependent on government benefits make the rational decision not to accept marginal increases in work and/or income for fear of losing far more sizeable gov't benefits. This is by design, in order to maximize gov't dependency and keep poor people poor, and as such increase political power as each election cycle candidates can instill fear among voters that their opponent will "take away" their gov't benefits.)

Clearly, wealth redistribution is alive and well in the US. For those concerned about the influence of "money in politics," you may want to start with this chart.

And of course, when government redistributes wealth, it is done through the threat of force, and is a zero-sum game (with clear winners and losers). Does anyone realistically think that such a massive program of forcibly taking from some to give to others can result in anything other than social animosity and tension?

What is it Like to be "Governed"?


“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality."

General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.”
―     Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"Professor" Nichol Can’t Resist Another Slur – 'Thug'


Today the Raleigh News and Observer reported on Civitas' request for Gene Nichol's emails and other public information in accordance with §132 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Nichol heads the Center for Poverty at UNC. Apparently we have upset some of his colleagues and they have complained to the media. We at Civitas wrote on Nichols and the Poverty Center before he penned a hateful piece about Governor McCrory in which he essentially called him a racist.   We wrote about the center back in 2012 and have written blog posts concerning the center and Nichol.

The piece by writer Jane Stancill was even-handed, but the most troubling line came at the end: "When asked whether the Civitas probe would curtail his commentary, Nichol said: 'I’m too old for that. I try to avoid being bullied by thugs, so I don’t think I’ll change.'"

So Nichol can't pass by an opportunity to call someone a name. In this case he called me a "thug." If this is what passes for civil discourse in the university, we really are in trouble. Civitas will not back down and the folks at UNC and the law school should not hold themselves above the law. The rank-and-file state employees know that everything they do is a matter of public record; those in academia making six-figure salaries should be smart enough to know that.

And all the name-calling in the world doesn't change the facts.

Ending with a quote from one of my favorite books, Animal Farm by George Orwell:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”