Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 8, 2013

Cursive still hanging on


THE ISSUE: Legislation mandating instruction in cursive writing.

OUR VIEW: Yet another law dictating what teachers should teach is neither needed nor probably welcomed.

For the older folks among us, a memo from state education officials in the spring of 2011 that cursive writing would no longer be a part of the required curriculum came as a bit of a shock.

We remember making entire rows of letters and being judged on whether we made the loops in precisely the right way. Learning the proper way to make a capital “A” and a small “t” were simply a part of growing up.

How could schools suddenly stop offering that instruction? What would become of a future generation of adults unable to sign their own names?

Lawmakers continue to ask the same questions. As they did last year, they’ll debate this legislative session whether to require that schools teach handwriting.

Fortunately for the traditionalists among us, Howard County school administrators told us in July 2011 they have no plans to abandon the lessons in cursive writing. Handwriting, as well as keyboarding anyway, will remain a part of the third-grade curriculum at Western.

“I just feel it’s a skill you need throughout your life,” then-Western Intermediate School principal Heather Hendrich told us.

John Bevan, superintendent of Southeastern School Corp. in nearby Walton, believed the state’s curriculum change concerning cursive writing was being driven by a daily 90-minute reading block requirement for kindergarten through third grade.

“The state is making a number of decisions right now that I don’t necessarily think are wise, but that is their privilege,” he said in 2011. “We will try to make do the best we can.”

Bevan said a decision to stop teaching cursive would extend beyond the ability of students to sign their names. If students don’t learn cursive, he said, they won’t be able to read historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.

“We can’t do everything on computers and smartphones,” he said. “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”

And so, for now anyway, students in Kokomo area school corporations will continue to learn how to make the proper loop on a capital “L.”

School officials in other districts likely have similar opinions on handwriting.

Of course, now that such instruction is no longer part of the required curriculum, we can guess that the time spent on it will continue to decline.

But yet another law dictating what teachers should teach is neither needed nor probably welcomed.