Indiana’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards in 2011 made teaching cursive optional. State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) has introduced legislation every year since to require schools to teach cursive writing.
Leising introduced Senate Bill 8 in January 2018. According to the bill’s text, the legislation would “[require] each school corporation, charter school, and accredited nonpublic elementary school to include cursive writing in its curriculum.
S.B. 8 passed the Senate, as it has in every previous year, in January, and is under consideration by the House.
Says Schools Want Cursive
Leising says data shows individual schools in Indiana value cursive, but few teach it.
“A survey conducted by the Indiana Department of Education from August 4 through October 1, 2017 of all teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members indicated the following: 70 percent of the 3,878 respondents were in favor of teaching cursive,” Leising said. “Only 20 percent of the schools indicated they were teaching cursive.”
Leising says other states have addressed the issue of cursive in the classroom.
“Currently, 23 states require the teaching of cursive,” Leising said. “In addition, 14 states have pending legislation. Many states had abandoned cursive when Common Core was introduced.”
Cites Cognitive Benefits
Leising says she introduced S.B. 8 to preserve the important skill of handwriting and the developmental benefits of learning cursive.
“According to medical professionals, cursive writing enhances the cognitive development of the brain in young children as they learn to connect letters,” Leising said. “Children who are not taught cursive cannot read cursive. They do not have a signature.”
Leising says she is hopeful this will be the year her bill finally passes.
“S.B. 8, with 10 Senate sponsors, passed the Senate with a vote of 38 to 11,” Leising said. “I am hopeful that the House Education Committee Chairman will, for the first time, give the bill a hearing. I assume that the survey results might encourage him to schedule a hearing.”
Choice for Change
Craig Ladwig, founder of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, says more school choice would make education in Indiana more efficient and effective.
“It focuses teachers’ time on classroom learning,” Ladwig said. “You eliminate the bureaucracy entirely.”
If families had choices, the best educational practices would survive and thrive, whether regarding cursive writing or any other form of learning, and legislation like S.B. 8 would be unnecessary, Ladwig says.
“Public choice economics is a great model for education reform because it studies how people react to incentives and disincentives,” Ladwig said.
Lindsey Schulenburg ([email protected]) writes from Chicago, Illinois.
Teresa Mull, “Carew Papritz: The Case Against Cursive,” The Heartland Institute, April 28, 2017: https://heartland.org/multimedia/podcasts/carew-papritz-the-case-against-cursive