The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 22, 2013

Getting to 'yes' in health care


All concerned should strive for a TPP that addresses legitimate concerns of U.S. business — but reflects the unique dangers of smoking both here and abroad.

Washington Post

Better things than cursive

Like 32-volume encyclopedias or cassette tapes, cursive writing has become a casualty of technology. Why learn how to draw that funny-looking crooked triple loop when you can just tap the shift key and the letter Z on your mobile phone? Better yet, why bother with uppercase letters at all? They’re not necessary for understanding.

Yet misgivings over the eclipse of cursive-writing instruction are provoking a backlash, with some state legislators overriding decisions to drop the lessons. Most American adults were taught that print writing was a step to cursive, the mark of true literacy. So it’s fair to ask: Will students deprived of this skill be lacking something essential?

In a word: no. Literacy, it’s worth remembering, is an evolving concept. For three centuries — until pocket calculators became common in the mid-1970s — students had to master the slide rule to quickly solve complex math problems, such as determining a number’s square root. Today, most kids probably couldn’t click on a slide rule even if it were right on the screen in front of them.

The issue is how students spend their limited time in school. In districts where cursive has been dropped, its former teachers have been among the most enthusiastic, because the change liberates them to teach more valuable subjects.

Washington Post

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