With SB 129, Sen. Leising continues with her quest to dictate that all schools throughout the land teach cursive to their students, regardless of whether educators making those decisions regard cursive instruction as the best use of limited teaching time. Last year, HB 1420 passed with a bit of fluff indicating that schools are permitted to offer cursive instruction (which has always been the case). She had successfully injected mandatory cursive into the version of the House bill that passed the Senate, but that was stripped out in conference in favor of the voluntary language.
Before anyone gets going on the cognitive benefits, motor skills, and so forth supposedly offered by cursive, please be careful to distinguish benefits derived from handwriting in general (including printing) versus those (if any) provided by cursive specifically. If schools want to teach it, fine. But the State shouldn’t mandate cursive based on legislators’ nostalgia or based on benefits kids will get from printing anyway.
Sen. Leising has been tilting at this particular windmill for years since the State Board of Education made cursive discretionary for schools to teach. Advocates of cursive come up with post hoc rationalizations for why they care so much. It’s for the children, of course. But the justifications are specious:
“They need to be able to sign their name.”
Fine, spend a few hours one day teaching them to sign their name.
“It affects brain development.”
You get the same development from printing.
“They need to be able to read the original Declaration of Independence.”
When they get to this point, proponents of mandatory cursive are grasping at straws.
The fact is that cursive is the slide rule of writing. Nostalgia is the motivation for hanging on to it. The world is changing, and that’s upsetting. The offered rationales are pretexts to justify the underlying nostalgia. If we just discovered cursive today, we would be in no rush to force it on our kids.