Indiana lawmakers want cursive mandatory in schools

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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, she said.

"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 Public Schools.

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."


  • Cursive Writing
    I am appalled the system is even thinking of abandoning the teaching of cursive writing!! Most children love cursive writing. Can you remember trying to write in cursive before you were able to? I can and now it's fun to watch my grandchildren try to write. Kids love cursive writing and I hope someone wake up to our educational system before it's too late. Teachers have plenty of time.... they just need to use it wisely. Kids should come first - why not ask them what they want?
  • So many more important issues
    First they rush through a poorly-thought-out law to try and make Planned Parenthood go away, and now they want to mandate teaching cursive writing. Aren't there more important issues that our lawmakers should be focusing on? Like JOBS?
  • parents - the ultimate teacher
    Everything a child needs to learn cannot be taught in a public school system. I believe cursive is important to know, I just don't believe we need a law to make it happen or that it is a legislative/government issue. If I were a parent of a young child today and chose to send my child to a public school system instead of home schooling (which is our freedom to do if we do not like what a school is teaching) I would be more concerned about the loss of art, music, physical education & industrial technology classes (things I can't teach) than I would be about a teacher teaching cursive writing. If you think making kids learn cursive is that important then make them turn off the TV & teach it to them at home - just like you teach them to brush their teeth or say thank you. It can create a fun family activity - I'd teach them how to "write" to their representatives at the statehouse. Now THAT is important to know how to do. Doesn't our government have more important things to do?
  • Teach it and more
    Cursive is not only a valuable tool, but a very excellent hand/eye coordination task for children. I also think daily Phys Ed should be mandatory - with all the facts about childhood obesity, plus the mental relief exercise gives kids that eliminating it is a huge mistake.
  • It is still necessary
    It is true that many people now do not use cursive when they write. It is also true that people who have never learned cursive find it difficult, if not impossible, to read letters , documents, and papers from earlier years. Many people without any interest in what occurred before they were born can certainly function without knowing cursive. For those with a broader sense of life, however, being able to read cursive is indispensable. If the idea is to hobble Hoosier students at the gate, not teaching cursive is a very good start. It is a false choice to pit cursive against computer literacy. Both are basics, along with reading, writing (!), math, music, art, phys ed, and reasonably healthy lunch offerings.
  • Your school district has the choice
    "The state no longer REQUIRED the writing style be taught."
    - If your school district wants to waste money teaching cursive, then go ahead and teach cursive.

    "It's a very simple bill that says that Indiana still HAS to teach cursive,"
    - I propose a bill that every student HAS to learn to speak latin. Sure no one uses it, and they could be learning Spanish or Chinese... but who cares, schools are bursting at the seams with cash, right?

    "Without it, students wouldn't be able to read the original version of the Constitution, she said."
    - HAHAHA!!! You actually think that students study photo reproductions of the constitution? They read text books and use computers. The first time I sat down and actually read a photo reproduction of the constitution from beginning to end was in my second year of law school. Before that I had read maybe the first line of a photo reproduction. (Please don't mistake what I am saying, I have read the entire Constitution many many times before Law School and throughout. It was just printed text, not a photo reproduction.)

    Bipartisan stupidity. Welcome to rural Indiana.
  • write it / read it
    If they don't learn to write it, how are they going to know how to read it? A signature is exactly that, your name signed in cursive.
  • Been through losing cursive with my kids and it was OK
    My kids were in a state that phased out cursive writing over 10 years ago. They've worked their way through school with a minimal working in cursive and actually done just fine. The school instead required computer skills nad typing in their place. I questioned the wisdom of this curriculum for a few years but only rarely see in their lives that it has or would be a current required skill for them. The world of the future may not involve pen and ink as much as ipod and word processing.
  • addendum

    "not every kid has access to a PC or iPad". That's a stupid way to think. Not everybody has access to everything.

    We have to stop teaching to the Least Common Denominator solution. Not everyone will succeed but everyone should have goals beyond the mundane. Let some kids fail but teach them to try their best. Try, Try, Try!
  • luddites
    Make touch-typing mandatory. How to effectively use shortcut keys. Working without spellcheck. "You" is correct "U" is not.

    I still use paper & pencil for notes and when I need to write something on paper for other people (rarely) my penmanship looks like a typewriter (Drafting class: Single-Stroke Capital Gothic Letters, 1/8" high. Mr. Wuester would be so proud of me)
    • school
      that is the most stupid thing schools could do, they are really not teaching enough in the oublic schools as it is but taking out writing. Remove physicial ed and teach the teachers to speak fluent english
    • Please don't
      Just like last year, this legislation fits into the catagory of highly relevant subjects that the media can push into the foreground, because they certainly don't want to distract Hoosiers away from the lack of progress on any real issues, such as remedies for our sad economy, high unemployment or miserable failure in funding or providing an education to our children.

      Please, keep the focus away from any discussions about backroom deals to benefit the wealthiest and most powerful. Instead, let's keep the focus on writing cursive so that our elected officals won't be bothered with any nagging over drafting more tax incentives for their donors... I mean buddies....and having them signed them into law before anyone is even aware of their existence.

      Ohhh and while your at it, I have another great idea. Let's see how many unconstitutional laws you can pass this year that will only be blocked by a federal judge before they even take effect. That should be a good use of time and taxpayers money.
    • I would hate to have to print my name all the time.
      To cursive write my name is so much faster, and it IS my singature. Printing is not!

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ