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Is your North Carolina state legislator in ALEC?

SourceWatch has assembled a partial list of  ALEC Politicians. The following is based on their list of 33 North Carolina Legislators with ALEC ties. It is annotated with links to Member information from the NC General Assembly website.

House of Representatives

Senate

  1. kategladstone
    April 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Your list of North Carolina legislators with ALEC ties needs to add Representative Pat Hurley. In her recent testimony to the North Carolina House Education Committee to support the cursive “Back to Basics” bill which she is sponsoring, the WRAL-TV video of her testimony — http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/video/12268754/ — shows her stating that ALEC gave her the statements she is uttering to support the bill. (Listen at the 8 minutes:40 seconds mark: you’ll have to listen carefully, because she makes her mention of ALEC go by _very _ quickly. You may wish to listen for a few seconds _around_ the mark, to make sure it doesn’t just go by you.

    Rep. Hurley getting her testimony from ALEC might be a bit less concerning if the testimony didn’t include documentable misrepresentations. Here are some documentable (and documented) evasions or misrepresentations of fact that her testimony involved:

    • In her testimony (on video, and presumably under oath, 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 even one _checkable_ source for that VERY surprising statement, I asked her office to please send me the research, or at least send a citation that could back it up. The material she chose to send in response (material i would be happy to show 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.
    In fact, it says the opposite. What she sent as “proof” was actually a paper showing that /a/ both sides of your brain work when you are TYPING, but not when you’re handwriting in cursive OR in printing. Then, only one side of your brain is doing the job. So, the research she gives out is the opposite of the testimony she gives out. (If indeed she’s getting both her research and her testimony from ALEC, she may want to talk with her ALEC information supplier to ask them to help her out with a little bit better quality control.)

    Things get worse: in terms of both the accuracy and the quality of the information, which again suggests a serious quality control problem on the part of whoever or whatever is her source.

    • Elsewhere (more than once) In her presentation to the House Education Committee, Rep. Hurley denies the legality of signatures not written in cursive, which she describes as “no signatures” (direct quote), although the legality of these signatures is asserted and protected by the state and federal laws that she is sworn to uphold.

    Specifically:
    /A/ 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.”
    /B/ Further, the North Carolina General Statutes 12-3(10) state, 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 be choosing personally to exclude printed handwritings from the category of “a proper handwriting” — if so, she has not pointed to any legal defense or rationale for such exclusion.)

    • Yet another legally questionable representation made by Representative Hurley during her presentation to the House Education Committee (no matter who, or what, was her source) is her claim that non-cursive handwritten signatures (such as printed signatures) need to be observed by two witnesses. In North Carolina, as in most states, the only signatures or marks needing witnesses are those made on a will (North Carolina General Statutes, Section 31, 3.3, on attested wills) — and in that case, two witnesses are required for all signatures (including, in other words, for cursive signatures as well as for non-cursive signatures).

    Concerns other than misrepresentation of research include the significant body of research which has not been represented at all in the deliberations. This research — copies/citations available from me on request (handwritingrepair@gmail.com) — shows that the fastest, most legible handwriters do not join all letters, but only some letters: making the easiest joins, skipping the others, and using print-like shapes for letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. Such facts throw a revealing light on efforts to mandate a form of handwriting which requires joining all letters and using different shapes for cursive versus printed letters.

    Reading cursive, of course, matters vitally. However, Rep. Hurley (in her capacity as cursive’s cheerleader) never mentions that one can learn to read a writing style without learning to produce it. (If we somehow had to learn to write every style that we needed to read, we would have to learn to read and write all over again whenever anyone invented a new font.)

    For this reason, it is odd that the documents which Hurley most often adduces (as the presumed evidence that writing in a particular style is the only way to learn to read that style) are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
    Some material in each document — the Constitution’s “We the People,” for instance — is penned, not in any form of cursive at all, but in “Olde Englishe” Blackletter. Are Rep. Hurley and her information sources (whatever source/supplier of information might imaginably be motivated to back a crusade to require cursive lessons in the schools) going to call next for a mandate of “Olde Englishe” Blackletter in the elementary schools?

    Reading cursive — if one does not have to learn how to write the same way, too — can be taught in 30 to 60 minutes to any small child who has learned to read ordinary printing. Why not just spend an inexpensive hour teaching children to read cursive handwriting — then use the time saved, and the money saved, to teach them to use some more practical form of handwriting?

    Most adults, after all, no longer use cursive. In 2012, a survey of handwriting teachers (source available on request) attending a national conference sponsored by the Zaner-Bloser firm — a well-known handwriting publisher which strongly advocates for cursive — revealed that only 37 percent of these devotees of penmanship actually used cursive for their own handwriting; another 8 percent wrote in print. The majority — 55 percent — wrote a hybrid: some features of their handwriting resembled cursive, but other features of their handwriting resembled print-writing (This compares well with the research noted above, on the handwriting habits of highly effective handwriters.) Knowing this, how sensible or practical — let alone ethical — is it to prioritize cursive? If ALEC is helping Pat Hurley (as she states), then ALEC and Representative Hurley are backing a losing horse.

    That horse may be going to _South_ Carolina, though. On April 9th, the South Carolina House Committee on Education and public works introduced a bill (coincidentally ALSO with “Back to Basics” in its title) that oh-so-coincidentally just happens to be word-for-word identical with the North Carolina bill —see for yourself at http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/bills/3905.docx … Now, folks, how did THAT happen?

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