Indiana Cursive Bill Gets A Fifth Go-Round

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — January 08, 2016 1 min read
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Is cursive necessary?

Indiana Senator Jean Leising certainly believes so. The senator has spent four years attempting to ensure that Indiana schools be required by law to teach cursive.

Leising, a Republican, along with two colleagues, introduced a bill earlier this week that would require schools to teach cursive. This is the fifth consecutive year Leising has introduced similar bills in the Indiana Senate’s education committee, according to WFYI Indiana. (Here’s a post on one of her earlier efforts from this blog back in 2012.)

Leising started her quest after Indiana adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. The standards did not specifically include handwriting, which, their authors said, could be added by individual states. Several states, including Florida, took steps to do so.

Indiana has since ditched the Common Core, and, in the process, created detailed handwriting standards. Students in grades K-5 are expected to learn to form and space letters appropriately. The standards say that students can write in print OR cursive.

Researchers agree that there is a cognitive benefit to learning handwriting. But Leising argues that cursive is distinctly valuable. In early 2012, she told Education Week that her constituents immediately raised concerns when they realized cursive wasn’t being taught. They worried about students’ ability to read historical documents like the Constitution or to sign documents.

For now, the fate of cursive in Indiana schools remains undetermined: While the bill had been approved by the state Senate’s education committee in previous years, it has not been heard by the House.

Why the passion for cursive? A 2012 blog post on this topic quotes a somewhat bemused Steve Graham, then a researcher at Vanderbilt University: “I’ve never seen anything in writing that people feel so passionate about,” Graham said. “On the one hand, I like it—we want people to be passionate about writing. On the other, you’re mystified about why the passion is on this one, single subskill.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.