State Sen. Jean Leising proposes cursive writing to be taught in Indiana schools

Bill would require students to learn cursive

INDIANAPOLIS - A southeastern Indiana senator is proposing legislation that would require schools to teach cursive writing to students.

The State Department of Education dropped cursive writing as a requirement, but Sen. Jean Leising of Oldenburg, said that students should be taught the writing style in order to be able to write checks, sign legal forms and read historical documents.

"I think of cursive in a couple of different ways. If you aren't taught to write cursive, you are not likely going to be able to read cursive," Leising said. "I think that could pose a real problem for this next generation of kids when they enter the workplace and someone hands them a yellow sticky note with an important message."

Leising said she's concerned we're developing a generation of people who will be lost if the power goes out and all their batteries are dead.

"They know now that there's a relationship, as they always have, in child growth and development, on various skills," Leising said. "You know, you've all heard about how little children should learn how to crawl and then walk. Well, they're saying now that the ability to connect letters has a direct relationship between spelling and the ability to read."

Leising also said there are statistics showing that students who use cursive to take the SAT score much better than those who type it.

Educational researcher Kathleen Wright agrees with Leising's defense of cursive.

"Our kids need to be bilingual by hand," Wright said. "They need to be able not only to use a keyboard -- and keyboards change, and we all know there are all types of different keyboards -- but they also need to be able to put a pen on paper and to extend their thoughts on paper."

Education administrators oppose the idea and see it as another state mandate interfering with their ability to run their schools.

"If we're going to require schools to end up doing things, it seems to me we need to have a strong facts base, a good research base and the information for implementation," said Frank Bush, with the Indiana School Boards Association.

The Indiana State Teachers Association supports the mandate.

"The curricula should include emphasis on reading and writing as fundamental to all academic instruction," said Roni Embry, with the Indiana State Teachers Association. "In addition, the teaching of cursive writing at the elementary level is an important component in assisting students to become effective learners to function successfully in a literate society."

Senate Bill 120 was discussed in a hearing before the Senate Education and Career Development Committee Wednesday afternoon, but the committee won't vote on it until at least next week.

The Senate passed a similar bill drafted by Sen. Leising last year, but it didn't make it out of the house.

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