A pair of school issues to watch

A couple of school related odds and ends worth mentioning.

First up: the House has approved a bill that mandates elementary school kids be taught cursive and multiplication tables. This will almost surely be signed into law given its broad support in the House and the fact that the folks in Raleigh are in some kind of race to pass as much legislation as possible.

I’ve always thought that cursive was pretty stupid, dating back to my own days in elementary school where it was used as some kind of torture device; thankfully, it’s something that barely even exists in the real world, so you can safely erase all memory of it if you don’t mind looking illiterate by using “X” as your signature. The rationale behind this move is hilariously grumpy-old-man; I can’t find the exact quote now but (paraphrasing WUNC) apparently a lawmaker received a letter from a child in his district and was distraught that it was written in print. Um.

Multiplication tables, though? I can dig that. Being able to multiply things is maybe a good idea, at least until everybody gets Google glass.

The other issue is that there’s growing frustration with the hilarious school calendar restriction law which limits the ability for school districts to set start dates for class. The law was originally passed largely due to lobbying from tourism advocacy groups from the Eastern part of the state (where I guess their Internets are trapped in like 1995 or something) to extend the lucrative family beach summer season as long as possible. Sure, I guess maximizing tourism spending is as good a reason as any to dictate how we educate our kids. It’s not like there’s any problem here, right?

Except that there kind of is. This all happened despite the protests of actual educators and local school administrators, since the law means school years are now split at winter break in non-half, thus leaving schools with uneven semesters (or a semester that has to finish its last two weeks after a week of winter break).

We’ll see whether McCrory ends up touching this one. On the one hand, tourism protectionism is cha-ching. On the other, McCrory has billed himself as the “education guy,” and at some point maybe he’ll want to do something not completely terrible, so I propose that he starts here.

1 thought on “A pair of school issues to watch”

  1. Well, if EVER there was a case where “by golly there oughtta be a law!” was a justified response, I guess receiving a stack of hand-written thank you notes from a class of fourth graders is certainly it 🙂

    For that matter, I’m all in favor of being able to mulitply too, but rote memorization of multiplication tables seems like it was never the right answer to that particular problem anyway. (Learning the typographic algorithm for multiplication, or how to use a slide-rule or pocket calculator, or smart-phone or tech du-jour has always been a better solution for that.) Rote memorization almost certainly does well have its place in cognitive development, but I’d feel better with, oh I don’t know maybe… professional educators making those decisions.

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