Representative Pat Hurley made up facts to bolster her false claims about cursive writing.

Despite John Hood's happy talk about the GOP's use of research for formulate policy, Republican legislators continue live in the alternate universe of their ideological agenda. Case in point: new legislation to mandate cursive writing in schools, where it appears that Representative Pat Hurley was happy to make up claims out of thin air.

For a detailed take down of this Republican criminal negligence, check out the extensive coverage on Diane Ravitch's blog.

The extensive presentation already made to the legislature by the bill’s sponsor (Rep. Pat Hurley) documentably [sic] contains serious evasions or misrepresentations of fact. These are visible in the publicly available (WRAL-TV) video of her testimony — which was presumably under oath — to the North Carolina House Education Committee:

In her presentation, Rep. Hurley asserts that the importance of cursive has been proven by research done by persons whom she identifies only as the “PET scan people.” She states that this research established that the human brain “doesn’t work” (direct quote) while one is keyboarding, and that “only one half” (direct quote) of the brain actually works while one is print-writing. (It takes cursive writing, she alleges, to allow the entire brain to work).

Since her presentation does not give a checkable source for that very surprising statement, I asked her office to please send me the research, or at least a citation that could back it up. The material she chose to send in response (which I will happily forward to anyone, on request: ) turns out, on inspection, to be seriously discrepant with the claims she makes to the House Education Committee about the research findings. (In other words: the research doesn’t say what she claims it says.) Specifically, the research she misrepresents — like other research, to be described and cited below — does not support her claim of a superiority for cursive or her claim of an essential role for cursive handwriting in education, and therefore it does not support a legislative mandate for cursive handwriting instruction.

NOTE: Edited to remove reference to intentionally lying. I'll let you be the judge of that.


You can be in favor of cursive all you want, Ms. Hurley

Just don't pretend it has anything to do with brain development, thinking, or improved education.

To other BlueNC readers, please spread the word about this egregious example of legislators cooking the books to support their insupportable claims.

NC law allows them to lie

Unfortunately NC law allows legislators to lie with impunity. They can slander you on the House floor and you can't sue them.

No oath?

It seems like every session should begin with the same oath required in a court of law. Then people like Hurley could be charged with perjury.


I knew it was just a matter of time before my former, gerrymandered-into-an-even-safer-district, representative Pat Hurley, made it onto the front page of BlueNC.

The three thinking people residing in her district already knew she was typical teabagger material, but what's this about them being able to slander us on the House floor with no recourse? I don't doubt it, but would like to be able to cite the statute when I throw her and the rest of her partners in crime under the bus.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail


Foiled again!

A study by "the PAT Spam people" shows conclusively that the Hurley brain "doesn't work" (direct quote) while legislating.

Ask John Hood for a copy of the study.

"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

GS 120-9

Chapter 120 - General Assembly
§ 120‑9. Freedom of speech.

The members shall have freedom of speech and debate in the General Assembly, and shall not be liable to impeachment or question, in any court or place out of the General Assembly, for words therein spoken. (1787, c. 277, s. 3, P.R.; R.C., c. 52, s. 29; Code, s. 2849; Rev., s. 4404; C.S., 6093; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1037, s. 1; 2000‑140, s. 28.)


I never doubted it, but seeing it in print makes it all the more vomit inducing.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Don't expect them to be fixing that anytime soon

They're happy to send people to jail for lying about where they live in order to vote, but their own requirements for truthiness? Not so much.

Nothing from...

....the great Dr. Cordato that could help this burning issue?

The House voted unanamously for the bill

after Rep. Michaux indicated everyone would vote for it---dems and reps

Martha Brock

Teh stoopid ... it hurts

Dems and Republicans alike, I guess.

I expect Dems to know better ... but I guess those expectations may be too high.

No debate on cursive bill

I was present in the gallery--curious about the bill. There were no questions and no debate from the Democrats. Michaux was recognized and he asked everyone who planned to vote for the bill to hit the green button, and they all lit up. Then the Speaker called for the vote and not one Democrat voted against it.

Personally, I don't oppose the teaching of cursive, just wonder if a law was even necessary, although Hurley indicated she contacted Dept. of Public Instruction and they said it was required.

The bill has only passed one chamber, and the Senate has yet to vote on this bill.

Martha Brock

In a world where decisions are evidence -based

cursive should neither be required nor taught. Judging from the research I read today, it is a waste of time, does not stimulate any particular form of brain development, and detracts from resources that could be better spent.

My first reaction was that the idea had some merit ... based on old-school instincts and feeling. I was wrong. The evidence is clear. Teaching cursive doesn't do what the bill's sponsors said it would do. They lied.

Mr. "Fact-based" McCrory will sign the thing into law, no doubt. It's all a political game.

Shorthand instead

I'd be in favor of requiring teaching of shorthand.

You need some way to take down word for word what's being said in meetings where the Republicans bar cameras and recording devices.

If it's a state law now...

...what's the repercussion for not teaching it...or not mastering it?

Let's see some examples of our legislators' cursive handwriting and ban printing in the NCGA.

I'm so embarrassed for my state...

There's an Upside...


Didn't they? Oh, wait, you mean that they all ran on platforms of JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! and SMALL GOVERNMENT?

The upside is that our state must be in better shape than we thought, a virtual utopia, if the final problem to be worked on is cursive writing in schools.

"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

Please provide research citations, James

from your research on teaching cursive writing. The only source cited so far, Gladstone, has no authority I can find to base her conclusions on. Let's do better than the opposition, if we want to ask them to use accurate, reliable research.

Where are our local educators on this issue? The folks cited in this blog are from NY State.

If the bill is passed, and it won't pass the NC Senate until after crossover day, I would hope the NCAE and folks from DPI will weigh in. Just throwing spitballs in class at Hurley proves nothing.

Martha Brock


I reviewed about a dozen research reports in the past two days and found the case being made on both sides of the issue. There is a strong contingent of folks who have found cursive helps to integrate neural processing ... and an equally strong contingent that finds there are lots of other ways (weaving, building blocks, music) to achieve that goal. A good summary of arguments on both sides is here, which despite its title makes a pretty good case FOR cursive.

Other findings.

Overview of research
Arguments against
Why it's more complicated than it seems from this simplistic legislation

I send my own Aspergers daughter to a school where cursive was part of the core curriculum, and I fully supported it. Not based on scientific evidence, but on the experience of teachers.

What I object to here is Hurley's cherry picking of data to pass a law that requires teachers to do anything ... while also passing legislation that removes the cap on class sizes, cuts teaching assistants and teachers, fails to provide funding for new textbooks and worse.

So I too look forward to hearing from educators to find out if they want another legal mandate imposed by all the so-called education "experts" in the General Assembly.


PS There's a lot more research, which you can easily find yourself, if you're so inclined. I read much of it before deciding to challenge Hurley on this, having concluded that the evidence is very much divided. Unfortunately, the honorables don't much seem to look at both sides of any issue, and are quick to jump on apple-pie ideas and turn them into laws.

Thanks. Here's more on brain research

'How Handwriting Trains the Brain' from the Wall Street Journal in 2010:

Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development.

It's not just children who benefit. Adults studying new symbols, such as Chinese characters, might enhance recognition by writing the characters by hand...

Also, this is a discussion from Colorado focusing on schools and the trend toward limited time for teaching cursive writing from March 28th, 2011:

Denver Public Schools chief academic officer Susana Cordova also attributes the change to the increase in state-wide testing in recent years. She sees schools reluctant to spend class time on something not emphasized in state standards...

Read more:

Martha Brock

The WALL STREET JOURNAL article doesn't support cursive

The WALL STREET JOURNAL article doesn't support cursive.
The case it makes is for handwriting.
Not all handwriting is cursive.

In fact, two of the handwriting styles illustrated in the article itself (Barchowsky and Getty-Dubay) are not described as "cursive" by most native speakers of American English.

The article from Colorado isn't research, either.

The article from Colorado isn't research, either. Moreover, it falls into the common error of assuming that cursive is the only handwriting style other than printing. (Accepting that mistake makes it easy to assume that handwriting must be crude and motorically infantile unless it's cursive. Samples on the following site show much worthwhile handwriting teaching and practice that a cursive mandate would not approve: )

NYT op-ed on Italic

Here's an op-ed on Italic from the NY Times with some nice examples.

As someone raised in the NC school system where I was taught printing first, then cursive around 2nd and 3rd grade, I think Italic is probably the best approach. Eventually, many people gravitate towards this style anyway, using a combination of cursive and printed text that's quick and natural for them as they take more complex notes.

I didn't learn typing until high school, just about the time the first desktop computers were coming out. Now I'd say that keyboarding skills are more important than cursive.

The law just seems like an attempt to hold on to some dear memories rather than looking forward and thinking about how society is changing. I'm sorry - it's not 1955 anymore and getting an "A" in penmanship isn't going to help Beaver Cleaver get a job or be able to communicate effectively when he's an adult.

Perhaps this is what our lawmakers had in mind when they voted for this silly thing.

Or, perhaps this if the future they're preparing our students for:

Read the sidebar in the WSJ article

Re: WSJ article: All the examples of handwriting used in the article are in script, not printing. Please find something substantive to add, rather than playing attack dog on this blog.

Re: Colorado article: I said it was "a discussion." I did not mean to say it was a research report. However, it is from a web site for educators, unlike your NY blog, which simply presents your opinion.

Martha Brock

What this bill, silly or not, boils down to

What this bill boils down to is what James said earlier about the brain research angle:

the evidence is very much divided. Unfortunately, the honorables don't much seem to look at both sides of any issue, and are quick to jump on apple-pie ideas and turn them into laws.

Since this blog leans more toward opinion than hard research, my opinion is that I can write more fluently and more efficiently, when I use cursive writing for taking notes or writing essays or opinion pieces. Typing on the computer keyboard leads to more mistakes and less grounded arguments.

(from Martha whose MRI probably looks like a doughnut)

Martha Brock

Your comparison of typing versus cursive

Your comparison of typing versus cursive is useful as far as it goes. It says nothing about the writing of those whose handwriting is neither cursive nor print-style.

Not all teachers agree with you

Not all teachers agree with you that all styles the WSJ illustrated are "script" (zor "cursive," as its more often called today).

When I discuss her with those who mandate (or want to mandate) cursive, some of them tell me that one, some, or all of those styles "definitely are cursive" — while others (even in the same school or district, and/or teaching the same grade) tell me that some of the same styles "definitely are not cursive")

Below are a few research/discussion links for handwriting. Have fun, Martha.

A signature error?

During the testimony, it was also interesting was interesting to see a North Carolina legislator (Pat Hurley) quoted as denying the legality of printed signatures — which are defended by the laws that she is sworn to uphold.

The UCC 1-201(37) — North Carolina General Statutes § 25‑1‑201(37) — specifies that “‘Signed’ includes using any symbol executed or adopted with present intention to adopt or accept a writing.”

Further, the North Carolina General Statutes 12-3(10) states, for use in statutes: “Provided, that in all cases where a written signature is required by law, the same shall be in a proper handwriting, or in a proper mark.”

Admittedly, Rep. Hurley may exclude printed handwriting from the category of “a proper handwriting” — if so, she has not pointed to any legal defense for such exclusion.

Even if she relegates all other styles to the category of "mark" — and, again, she has not shown any legal basis for doing so — the law of her state (and of the United States) specifically admits such signatures.

Thanks for this detailed response

My take on the whole process is that Hurley has been playing fast and loose with facts of all stripes. I guess that's the cross we all have to bear: legislators pursuing ideological agendas with little regard for accuracy.

That seems to be how many of them get what they want ... made even worse by an environment of "no debate" and "divide and conquer."

A hard lesson

I guess that's the cross we all have to bear: legislators pursuing ideological agendas with little regard for accuracy.

It's a hard lesson that liberals and progressives need to take to heart - extremist conservatives don't care about facts. They're driven by fear and emotion, not logic and certainly not by a sense of doing what's right.

Just don't bother falling into the trap of trying to refute all their garbage data - you've got to devote some time to diffusing the emotions they're trying to stir up.

The cursive bill seems more driven by a fear of change and a nostalgia for the past more than anything else.

If I were in a public meeting with Hurley, I'd hammer on the facts, but I'd also ask her why she's afraid of looking to the future and why she's afraid of change. The debate needs to be shifted from the bill itself to the childish fears motivating this waste of time.

So, folks like her wouldn't care about ...

And here I'd been assuming that Pat Hurley (evangelical Christian as she is) might care about, oh, a little thing called the Ten Commandments: especially that one about not bearing false witness ...

If the facts alone aren't enough to matter in debate (WHY??), just how WOULD you suggest going about "diffusing the emotions"? Would someone who isn't even concerned about factuality be willing (let alone able) to address her emotional motivations for not being concerned about factuality?

Confronting fear and emotion

I think simply broaching the subject is a good start.

Have you ever dealt with a bully?

Bullies are purely driven by fear and emotion. If you're in a situation with a bully when there's other people around, if you stare him or her right in the eyes and tell them you're not going to be bullied, what they're doing is wrong, and, very calmly, tell them they're being a bigot or just afraid of something, they start to back down.

The point isn't to get the bully to change their mind, but to diffuse their power - other people stop focusing on the bully and start seeing the bully for what he or she is.

You shift the debate from "Do this now! Pay attention to me!" to "Just what the hell do you think you're trying to do here? You've got a problem - we don't."

Back to Basics

Clearly, this dead horse has been overbeaten.

But I'd like to remind us all that, regardless of the research and opinions and claims and counterclaims: Should this really be a matter for the state legislature?

Shouldn't this be a matter for educational curriculum experts? Local boards? The State DPI or State Board of Ed? Someone other than money- and politics-driven people with little educational expertise?

I'm just sayin'

"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

Then some people tell me the misstatements "need equal time" ...

And then there are the people who state that misstatements, once they are identified, need "equal acceptance with the opposing, factual statements" in the name of "balance." (In other words: they actually ADMIT that "in a literal sense, it might indeed be perceived that the statements are disconnected from the facts, if someone's perspective is that they have issues with that ... " but then they tell me things like "it is better if it doesnot matter whether the statements had factuality issues, because the _social_ truth is the cultural consensus ... which is why consensus is the unifying force here, not the facts. There is obviously a strong consensus around Hurley's viewpoint. The occurrence of consensus is the reality here."


Well, Posmo, we'll see soon enough if the horse is dead ...

Well, Posmo, we'll see soon enough if the horse is dead ... The bill (Senste Bill 243, "Back to Basics") is on the NC Senate Calendar for tomorrow at 10 AM.

I expect there'll be a few kicks in the old nag yet.