Going through some old boxes, I found a package of letters that I had written my mother when I was in second grade. They were in cursive.

Cursive in English and other languages of equally well-crafted letters, documents, etc. have been written for thousands of years in civilizations across the world.

My first years of schooling were in a legendary One Room Schoolhouse in the north woods of Maine. I was living with my grandparents and brother on the farm that my great-grandfather carved out of the untouched forest in 1848. (Out West, the Indians were still living free across the land in their villages and hunting buffalo on the plains.)

The school we went to was two miles down the dirt road, called Tucker Ridge after the family. In the warm months, we’d head off for school by crossing the 4-acre field on the upper part of the farm and then across the next farm’s hay field to meet up with the girls at that farm. On we went, joining with other kids as we made our way to the schoolhouse, the quintessential one-room country school building with a porch — we call porches “verandas” back then — and the bell in the belfry.

Our teacher, Mrs. Hanscom, would be there to greet us, all 18 of us that made up the student body from sub-primary (kindergarten) through eighth grade. (In the cold months, she also had the wood stove purring when we got there.)

My brother was two grades ahead of me. Before I was old enough to go to school, he had taught me my ABCs, including how to write them. He taught me how to read my first little book and to write my name, even in cursive. So I went off to my first day of school all puffed up with my abilities.

When my brother and I were taken off the farm when in fifth and seventh grades and moved to school in the Boston area, we were a full year ahead academically.

Fast-forward to the 1980s, by which time the "dumbing down" of public education already had a foothold. I had been living for a quarter of a century all over the country, the last 10 years in California. California has always been ahead of us, especially in negative things, and they were ahead with the start of the slow but steady destruction of the curriculum in our schools.

My daughter was 5. I did not want her in school there. I came home t‘Maine. I quickly found that Belfast schools were teaching the same things as in California to the point that they were learning the ABCs (accompanied by drawings of things like “D is for delicious doughnuts”) mimeographed to make it look as though it was innocent local study material.

I was just plain mad. I wrote a letter to the editor. I had moved 3,000 miles to get away from this stuff.

At the same time, Linda Bean had started a statewide newspaper out of Hallowell: ”The Maine Paper.” She was starting to cover education, or the lack of it, in Maine. My letter picked up speed around the state and abroad. And one day, Linda called me and asked if she could do a story on me and the organization I started: ”Families for Freedom.” So I got my first cover story/center spread article. That connected me to two other state organizations that were also sounding the alarm — and fighting parents being jailed for homeschooling.

Yes, folks, in 1980, parents who saw what was going on in public education in Maine were forbidden to homeschool. They could even have their kids taken away from them.

At the same time, a church just one block from my house, opened up a private school. The ink wasn’t dry on their announcement before I had my daughter enrolled. She went there until 10th grade when the school closed. She got a good grounding in the old-time, real education. And she learned cursive.

I soon found myself doing feature stories and investigative writing for The Maine Paper and connecting with groups in Maine and nationwide. We spent a lot of time in the halls of power in Augusta and conventions in D.C., including a private tour of the White House when Reagan was president — and he was our guest banquet speaker at the close of our three-day convention. We had a bill in. And we fought down the powers that be and finally won the right to homeschool. Now Maine is known as one of the best states for homeschooling. (That is in danger again, though. We do not have a governor who is friendly to homeschooling. And now, with the craziness swirling around the schools, parents are opting and scrambling to homeschool.)

But we now have three-four generations of young people who cannot write or even read cursive. The first time for thousands of years. And handwriting isn’t the only thing that has been systematically “dumbed down." There’s a deliberate design to this insanity. By now, most are familiar with the cockamamie math curriculum, ”Common Core.” Our students became less and less proficient in math and far behind many other countries. I won’t go into that further except to say that Common Core is being shown the door by our administration.

Ditto the totally rewritten history of our country over the years. One fifth grade history book, back in 1981, for example, had only one one-inch paragraph, derogatory, on George Washington. It had 5 1/2 pages of text and photos on — ready for this? — Marilyn Monroe.

The history books planned for the coming year are even worse. Total revision and aimed at creating even more racial division in the country. The administration has said: ”Not gonna happen…” and has appointed a commission now working on history books that actually tell the history of our country.

Now to get cursive taught again. Cursive is not a throwaway subject. And the educators who forbid it knew this going in. Again, the deliberate dumbed-down curriculum of those who set the watered-down education on its course.

Not deliberate? Answer this. A little second grader came home upset at a note on her paper. There was an angry red-circle around her name that she had put on the top. And a warning in big red letters: “You know you are not supposed to write your name in cursive!” The little girl had obediently written the lesson in block print but was proud that she could write her name in cursive. She didn't know that even that was not allowed.

So, is cursive important?

There are several testimonies and articles by professionals who testify "Yes.” And here is a short explanation as to why. Cursive writing is good for brain development. The continuous act of cursive writing and the exercises that go with learning it “build a better brain.” It opens up the ability to learn all subjects. Some small private schools are starting to teach it again.

It still boggles my mind that we have grown grandkids — indeed young adults going into their 30s! — these days who can neither read nor write in cursive.

Of course there could be an upside to this mess. We old folk could use cursive as a secret code.

Note: One of the friends I fought the battles with in the '80s against the creeping totalitarianism in our country and the education system wrote the go-to tome on all of this: "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” by Charlotte Iserbyt, still available. She was also appointed to the Department of Education in D.C. by President Ronald Reagan. One of his top goals was to abolish the Federal Bureau of Education and put the schools back under the control of the state. They were unable to achieve that goal.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools. She now lives in Morrill.