States

Is Cursive Making a Comeback in California? Bill Could Revitalize Traditional Writing Skills

By Maya Miller, The Sacramento Bee — September 14, 2023 2 min read
Close crop of an elementary school, black girl in class focused on writing in a book.
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California elementary and middle school students could soon see a renewed commitment to teaching cursive writing in their English and language arts classes.

Assembly Bill 446 would require cursive handwriting instruction in first through sixth grade. The bill comes from Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, a former public elementary school teacher herself. Legislators sent the measure to Newsom’s desk Wednesday.

Although cursive writing instruction is already part of the California educational standard, Quirk-Silva said the implementation of the curriculum varies greatly from classroom to classroom. The bill doesn’t pinpoint a specific grade in which teachers would have to teach cursive, but rather requires them to be more intentional about making sure they include some instruction on it each year from first through sixth grade.

Quirk-Silva said the main goal of the bill is to give students the ability to read in cursive, as well as writing it. She pointed out that most historical records, such as diaries, letters, ledgers and other documents, were written in cursive.

“A lot of the historical documents going back two or three decades are actually in cursive,” she said. “I went on 23andMe looking for some family records and they were all written in cursive.”

Additionally, with the rise of artificial intelligence in the classroom, she theorized that more teachers would return to handwritten essay exams. Students who can write in cursive would be able to write faster.

Quirk-Silva said former Gov. Jerry Brown was a major supporter of the bill when he was in office, and she texted him shortly after the Assembly passed the bill to let him know about its success.

“He said, ‘Get this bill to me and I’ll sign it,’” Quirk-Silva recalled of her conversations with the former governor. “But we could never get it through the education committee.”

As the Assembly considered the bill on a concurrence vote Wednesday, the Fullerton Democrat read handwritten notes from some of her colleagues — written in cursive — in support of the bill.

“Dear Sharon, no one has more beautiful handwriting than me. Period. End of story,” wrote Assemblywoman Diane Papan, D-San Mateo.

“Thank you, Mr. Marshall, my fourth-grade teacher, for teaching me how to write in cursive!!!” wrote Assemblyman Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, D-South Los Angeles.

AB 446 was joined together with two additional education bills that would mandate instruction on climate change and mental health in first through sixth grades.

Copyright (c) 2023, The Sacramento Bee. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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