About that cursive bill

Turns out the whole scam is part of a national effort by a for-profit company named Zaner-Bloser that makes money teaching (you guessed it) cursive! Not only did Pat Hurley misrepresent the research around handwriting, she allowed herself to be used by shady special interests. The plot sickens.


Makes perfect sense

It's the Republican Way. Find a company that wants to slop at the public trough, and then pass a special interest bill to give that company taxpayer money.


Zaner-Bloser is owned by....

According to their website, Zaner-Bloser is located in Cleveland and owned by the Ohio company that publishes Highlights for Children.

"Our other programs include Spelling Connections, Strategies for Writers, Zaner-Bloser Voices Literature & Writing, Voices 3C eLessons, Read for Real, and Word Wisdom, among others."

Here's a newspaper fluff piece on Kent Johnson, the CEO of Highlights, that outlines the wide range of educational materials and curriculum the company sells.

I did some Google searching on him for a few minutes and didn't see a direct connection to ALEC or Americans for Prosperity - someone doing some more digging might find his connection to one of these groups or another conservative foundation or think tank pushing legislation to reform education in different states.

My info from Rep. Hurley

First, I want to say I was completely taken in by Rep. Hurley, and I thought she was perhaps misguded, but not dishonest. Now I am not so sure. I am sure I would not hire as a Legislative Assistant the woman who works for her and is the one quoted as getting the info from the sales rep in SC.

Here is what i just wrote in an email message to Rep. Hurley:

From Policy Watch today:

Hurley mentioned during her introduction of the bill that ALEC supplied her with background information with regard to cursive writing instruction. Pressing further, Gladstone asked Hurley’s office how she obtained research relevant to the bill, and Holder explained that they had received a lot of information from a “source in South Carolina.”

Upon further inquiry, that source turned out to be a sales rep from Zaner-Bloser, a for-profit company that promotes cursive writing and sells handwriting instructional materials. Incidentally, the South Carolina legislature is considering an identical bill to mandate cursive writing instruction, no doubt after having received the same research pushed to them by the Zaner-Bloser sales rep...


"Well, don't I feel stupid. Rep. Hurley, I won't put myself on the line for you or any other of the Republicans after this fiasco. I got James Protzman to apologize, and it turns out I owe him an apology."

I want to add the information Holder sent me about Kate Gladwell, when trying to discredit Gladwell's information. I do not think Gladwell is an expert on brain development, and she is a kook, but that is not relevant to the discussion. Check out the information by following the link in a message from Hurley's LA:

Rep. Hurley asked me to send this link to you.


Debbie Holder
Legislative Assistant

If you read the post at the Ripoff Report site, the title says it all:
Kate Gladstone Handwriting Repair She is rude, ignorant, and poor Albany, New York

Apparently living in a low rent apartment and being poor discredits what you have to say in Rep. Hurley's eyes. That takes me out of consideration, too.

Rep. Hurley has refused to comment in response to the N&O's story and the Policy Watch story today, apparently on advice from attorneys at the NCGA. She did contact a personal friend who called to try to get me to stop writing about the issue apparently at Hurley's request.

As the old saying goes, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Martha Brock

Thanks for this Martha

I did apologize for calling Pat Hurley a liar, and I was right to do so. She wasn't a liar, she was a sucker. I suppose that's better than being a liar, but not by much.

Maybe she will take the floor of the House and ask that the bill she promoted be withdrawn until the situation can be more carefully examined. That would be a fair and honest action in the face of this scandal.

Thanks, Martha, for thinking about these matters

Thanks, Martha, for thinking about these matters.

For those who have followed the course of the "Back to Basics" Bill from its beginnings in the House — where it is now headed, once again, to be reconciled with its Senate version before the governor can sign it— it's been interesting to see the level of the legislative discussions on this bill swiftly descend. House testimony on the bill began with claims presented to the Educstion Committee as factual — which soon turned out not to be.
After those claims had been exposed, what could be left? Personal anecdote and reminiscences: these could not be verified, after all — these composed yesterday's Senate discussion. (The eight brief minutes of that discussion would have been much longer, and much more difficult for the Senate's members, if that discussion had had to mention the issues of integrity and accuracy which have become notorious in connections with the bill's content and its presumed support.)
Since I do not live in North Carolina, I wonder whether perhaps greater integrity, greater concern for facts, may be expected of Governor McCrory when the time soon comes to either approve, or veto, the bill.

It's been notable that, without exception, all the unfavorable facts and comments regarding the bill have stemmed from cursive.
Could it be that the reason two such disparate matters — cursive and the multiplication tables — were shoveled into one bill was to create a "package deal" — to construct a situation where politicians would fear noticing the integrity issues involved in one part of the bill, because to reject that part of the bill (for even the strongest of reasons) would expose them to the risk of also being portrayed as opponents of math?
If so, would it perhaps be within the Governor's authority to send the bill back with the request that it be separated into two bills (one for each of two very different issues) and considered that way, from the beginning, instead of melting the two issues as one and expecting that conglomeration to be passed into law without adverse comment from Governor McCrory or from anyone else?

I'm wondering further, Martha ...

I'm wondering further whether it matters to Pat Hurley's legislative aide (Deborah Holder) that the anonymous author of the "Ripoff Report" states (in that report) that he or she was never a client of mine. Is it usual, let alone ethical, to believe that one has been "ripped off" by the provider of a service that one has never used?

It would also be interesting to know whether Ms. Holder is aware of the abundant results for the following searches:

"Ripoff Report"+extortion

"Ripoff Report+complaints+reputation+extortion+site.

I'd be most grateful, Martha, if you could please forward me a copy of the statements about me that were made to you by Ms. Holder. You have my e-mail address from our earlier correspondence.

I can write in cursive. It's a quaint relic that is fun. . .

. . . to show off to people in the office or to please other cursive writers. Some kids can learn cursive as an elective, like calligraphy, to help them read the original constitution or write fancy letters. Yet for most kids, learning how to read, write and think is more important than cursive.

It Just Makes You Want to...

Hurl (-ey).

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

An educator's perspective on this cursive business

While conclusive evidence is hard to find, my feeling from many years of involvement in education is that anything which has students generating language is good. Student development improves if technology is removed from the learning environment. Whether or not printing or cursive is better is a tough question. I am leaning towards cursive as being better.
The differences in letter formation are clearer and the left right flow is important as the writing movement helps the eyes track correctly when reading. With the letters being more distinct, confusion between similar looking letters is reduced (e.g. lower case b, d, p and q, they are all circles with a stick). The loops and swirls of cursive develop hand-eye coordination in a way that printing cannot. Used in combination, with cursive being emphasized early on, both styles can provide benefits for the developing mind.
Having students put pencil or pen to paper as much as possible should be a goal of education - whether it be in language development or math instruction. Use of technology should be (mostly) delayed until the later grades.
Misrepresenting facts to get laws passed mandating cursive instruction is quite another matter. To do so to benefit a corporate entity is unethical. I would point out that cursive handwriting can be taught without the use of any particular corporate product; teachers have been doing so for a long, long time.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?