Victory! State Board of Education Preserves Strong Science Standards

Dear Friends,

A very important and informative press release on April 21, 2017 written by Andy Hogue ahogue@txvalues.org with Texas Values. Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org.

PRESS RELEASE

Victory! State Board of Education Preserves Strong Science Standards

Students, Teachers May Continue Critical Discussion and Open Debate on Evolution

AUSTIN – Today, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted streamlined science TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the basic curriculum used by public schools) that ensures students and teachers may continue to have critical discussion and open debate on concepts regarding evolution, the origin of life, the fossil record, and cell complexity.

The board rejected a final attempt to have students and teachers merely “identify” scientific theories on the origins of life and instead approved the stronger language of “compare and contrast” and “examine.”

Texas Values testified at every meeting to ensure the streamlining changes honors the TEKS approved on a bipartisan basis in 2009 that protected critical discussion and open debate in the classroom for all scientific subjects and theories, including evolution.

Throughout the months-long streamlining process, liberal advocacy groups unsuccessfully attempted to weaken the biology standards to remove the ability of teachers and students to study and question all sides of the theory of evolution.

Said David Walls, Director of Operations for Texas Values who testified at the meeting:

“Today’s vote was another strong confirmation that Texas teachers and students retain the ability to have critical discussion and open debate on the theory of evolution and the origin of life. The streamlined biology TEKS protect and promote academic freedom and critical thinking for our students. We are thankful that the board once again rejected attempts to push a one-sided, dogmatic view and instead listened to teachers, parents, and students who favored preserving the ability to critically analyze scientific evidence regarding Darwinian evolution.”

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com 

Flipping the Script To combat illegibility, cursive making a comeback

Dear Friends,

A very informative and excellent article in the Dallas Morning News on (Wednesday April 5, 2017).  “Flipping the Script To combat illegibility, cursive making a comeback”

Dear teacher, thank you for teaching me how to write in cursive.

Yes, you read that correctly: One of the oldest human technologies — handwriting — is mounting a comeback.

Once a fixture in American classrooms, the ancient art of looping letters together began falling out of favor decades ago. It was nearly wiped out by the advent of modern technology, which made penmanship a decreasing classroom priority.

Cursive writing took another blow when most states adopted Common Core curriculum standards, which no longer required teaching it in public schools. Why? Because it takes precious time away from other subjects deemed more crucial in a world ruled by computers, laptops and smartphones.

Slowly but surely, however, penmanship is returning. Two states, Alabama and Louisiana, passed laws last year mandating that cursive writing be taught in public schools. That brings the total to at least 14 states, including Texas, that require proficiency in cursive writing.

Last fall, the nation’s largest public school system, up in New York City, rekindled the teaching of cursive writing. How the Big Apple got back on the bandwagon is intriguing, a lesson in both history and perseverance.

A New York state lawmaker, Nicole Malliotakis, was dumbfounded at a teenager’s inability to sign his name at a voter registration event. Instead, the 18-year-old printed his John Hancock in block letters. “That is my signature,” he said. “I never learned script.”

The Staten Island Republican took her concerns to education officials, who, wisely, charted a new course.

New York Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina dished out a handbook on teaching cursive and urged principals to use it. The manuals cite research “suggesting that fluent cursive helps students master writing tasks such as spelling and sentence construction because they don’t have to think as much about forming letters.”

Other research suggests learning to read and write in cursive can boost performance in other areas, too.

Yet, while researchers continue to debate cognitive and spill-over benefits from learning cursive, we were struck by a powerful, if plaintive, observation from Malliotakis: Students who aren’t trained in cursive won’t be able to readily digest many original historical documents.

“If an American student cannot read the Declaration of Independence, that is sad,” Malliotakis said.

We agree, although we also acknowledge that the hand-wringing over handwriting is overwrought in one respect: Few experts doubt that cursive writing will ever vanish; it’s simply too ingrained in our culture.

But what will it look like?

“When we don’t teach penmanship, the result is an ugly, unaesthetic and illegible script,” Steven Roger Fischer, a script expert and author of A History of Writing, once wrote in an article for Slate. “Ugliness is unimportant. Aesthetics are unimportant to many people. But illegibility defeats the purpose of writing. There must be a standard.”

So let it be written. And let it be done, please … in the classroom.

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com