INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Ń Students, keep practicing those swirly letters: State
lawmakers say they feel so strongly that kids should know how to write in
cursive that they’ll push to keep it in schools next year.
Terre Haute Sen. Tim Skinner and Oldenburg Sen. Jean Leising said they were
horrified when they learned the state no longer required the writing style
be taught. They said this week they plan to submit bills when lawmakers
return to Indianapolis in 2012 that would reverse that.
"It’s a very simple bill that says that Indiana still has to teach cursive,”
Leising said. She said she was appalled when she found out that students may
not learn the same writing style that has connected generations of
Americans. Without it, students wouldn’t be able to read the original
version of the Constitution, she said.
Just because schools are no longer required to teach cursive does not mean
they are excluded from teaching it, said Stephanie Sample, spokeswoman for
the Indiana Department of Education. The change was included in April when
the state adopted national “common core standards” for teaching students,
“It’s a local decision, we support schools that want to do it,” she said.
Skinner, a retired high school government and economics teacher, said he
plans to either submit his own legislation or sign onto Leising’s. Cursive
has been one of the few constants in American education, he said.
“It might be one of those things that conventional wisdom has had us doing
this (teaching cursive) without any legislation to support it,” he said. “I
would then say cursive is just as important as mathematics and science.”
Cursive may be safe for now, but school systems staring down budget cuts or
increased testing benchmarks in math and science may decide to scrap it in
the future, Skinner said.
The new “common core standards” were adopted by dozens of states earlier
this year as a measure to unify requirements across the states and make the
requirements clearer for teachers, Sample said. There’s nothing stopping
states from adding onto the standards, but the state shouldn’t micromanage
school systems, she said.
“I was personally glad to hear that we weren’t abandoning cursive writing,”
said Chris Collier, director of the Center for Inquiry at Indianapolis
The writing style is as important for bridging generational gaps, like
reading letters from grandparents, as it is for covering technological and
monetary gaps that cannot be bridged by iPads and laptops, Collier said. Not
every student has access to a computer at home, and not every classroom has
a 1:1 ratio of computers to students.
But legislation mandating cursive instruction is probably not the answer,
either, she said. School administrators seem to be sticking by cursive
without the added push from lawmakers, she said.
“I’d like to be able to choose the format I’m most comfortable with,” she
said. “I like having that variety and I like putting at our kids’ fingertips
a lot of methods.”