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 those same questions.
Since 2011, Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, has carried a bill to reverse the decision that jettisoned penmanship in favor of keyboarding skills for elementary school students in Indiana. Her fellow senators have passed that bill each of the last eight years, and the House Education Committee has killed it.
Leising again has co-authored a bill this session with Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. Senate Bill 57 would require every school district, charter school and nonpublic elementary to include cursive writing in its curriculum.
Her bill last session included data.
According to WXIN-TV Indianapolis, the state Department of Education surveyed Hoosier educators from Aug. 4, 2017, through Oct. 1, 2017. Of 3,878 respondents, 70% said they favored mandatory cursive writing instruction.
Fortunately for the traditionalists among us, Kokomo area school administrators told us in 2011 they have no plans to abandon the lessons in cursive writing.
John Bevan, former superintendent of Southeastern School Corp. in nearby Walton, 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 If students don’t learn cursive, he said, they won’t be able to read historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.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 schools 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 not needed.