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Editorial

Penmanship and the multiplication table were once the foundation of elementary school education in this country. Now it appears both tools are on the brink of completely disappearing from our schools.

The new Common Core educational standards left behind both cursive writing (a.k.a. script) and the memorization of the multiplication table. Discarding these skills is a terrible loss in the fundamentals of an education system that already lags behind many other industrialized nations of the world.

It appears those who developed modern curricula believe students of this age-and their children-will no longer need to know how to twirl a pen over a page or quickly calculate multiples of a number. After all, modern technology has made it possible for basic math problems to be solved in an instant. There are also various tools such as encrypted personal identification numbers and electronic signatures (esignatures) quickly verify someone’s identity.

Without a doubt, the world constantly changes and new things always come across the horizon. Even so, that doesn’t mean that what was tried and true should be rejected as unnecessary.

Just as texting cannot replace talking, ID numbers and esignatures cannot replace handwriting. Moreover, they are not impervious to forgers and crooks, as evidenced by the credit card security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus.

Reducing future generations to just printing their name robs them of an identity. “Sign here” is still standard procedure in buying a home, making a will, agreeing to a work contract, purchasing items with a credit card and a host of other functions that require signatures, not printing.

Letting “X marks the spot” be the standard for identity verification and confirmation is as dangerous as someone shouting their bank account numbers over the public address system at Grand Central Station.

Additionally, leaving all basic math to an electronic calculator also does a tremendous disservice to students. Memorizing the multiplication table is ABOUT more than just number-crunching; it’s about young minds acquiring and honing the ability to rapidly process all kinds of information.

Thankfully, there is a movement afoot to restore cursive writing and the multiplication table’s place in the American classroom. New York-in an effort led by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx-is among seven states with pending legislation under consideration to continue educating elementary school students in these basic, yet very important skills.

We encourage other members of the legislature to join him in retaining these fundamental practices in the classrooms. Think of penmanship and multiplication tables as a backup battery system for students in case of major power failures.

Knowledge is a lifetime quest that requires all types of tools that enhance the journey. Reading, writing and arithmetic are still the basic springboard to all heights.

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