The opening sequence of “The Simpsons” TV show often includes a clip featuring Bart Simpson staying after school to write a phrase on the chalkboard as punishment. Could it be children someday might see archived episodes and wonder what he’s writing on?
Here are some of the memorable quotes Bart has written through the years, according to the fan site The Simpsons Archive (www.snpp.com).
• The boys room is not a water park.
• Wedgies are unhealthy for children and other living things.
• Fridays are not “pants optional.”
• I will not trade pants with others.
• Funny noises are not funny.
• I will not send lard through the mail.
• I will not Xerox my butt.
• I won’t not use no double negatives.
• Dodgeball stops at the gym door.
• I will not obey the voices in my head.
• I am not Charlie Brown on acid.
• Poking a dead raccoon is not research.
• Beer in a milk carton is not milk.
This generation of Lawrence schoolchildren is growing up without hearing the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.
Now sure, they have computers and graphing calculators, and iPods and cell phones. But as the Lawrence School District and others like it around the country abandon the infamous chalkboards in favor of white board and smart boards, that old cliché about a terrible, high-pitched sound has no meaning.
At the moment, Tom Bracciano says the district has about 40 percent of its classrooms equipped with whiteboards, while the remaining 60 percent still have chalkboards. But it’s a number dwindling fast.
The school district budgets about $30,000 a year to buy 50 whiteboards, which replace the old chalkboards. New schools, like Langston Hughes, were built from the ground up with whiteboards only.
And while Bracciano says there’s a general push to eliminate the dust-producing chalkboards, the whiteboards also can be irritating.
“There are people who have an issue with the strong marker smell,” he says.
Bracciano admits he does sometimes ponder what it would be like to have a generation of kids clueless to the phrase “fingernails on a chalkboard,” but he’s confident a new, whiteboard-related alternative will arrive soon.
“There’ll probably be something like it. The new boards, they can scratch,” he explains. “When you scratch a whiteboard and start to write on it, it gets all funky. It never cleans right again.”
He suggests the new classroom-related board could wind up something like “as clear as a scratched up whiteboard.” But he’s just guessing.
At Kansas University, the number of classrooms with black or green chalkboards hanging on the walls is dwindling, but a university spokeswoman says some still are available.
“We have about 200 classrooms that are centrally scheduled and reserved. Nobody keeps statistics on which have blackboards versus whiteboards,” KU’s Lauren Beatty says. “But there is at least one professor who has requested to still have a chalkboard.”
She adds that KU’s Facilities Operations department still keeps chalk and erasers on hand, though they don’t see them ordered very often.
Bracciano points out another potential problem in the disappearance of chalkboards.
“When I was a kid, it was a big reward to take the erasers outside and beat the chalk out,” he explains. “You got to get out of class. I don’t know what they’ll do next.”