The Washington Times-Herald

State News

January 7, 2013

State legislators plan push to require cursive writing in school

INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that would require Indiana’s public schools to teach cursive writing is one of the first items that may come up for debate as the Indiana General Assembly begins its 2013 session.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state senators Jean Leising of Oldenburg and Mike Delph of Carmel, would reverse a 2011 Indiana Department of Education decision that made teaching cursive writing optional.  

The proposed legislation is scheduled for its first committee hearing Wednesday — just two days after the legislative session started — along with several other education-related bills.

“This is one of the issues that people in our districts talk about,” Leising said. “If you can’t write in cursive, how are you going to sign a legal document?”

Delph echoed Leising’s concerns: “I routinely have people show up at my town hall meetings and say, ‘Why aren’t we teaching cursive anymore? Why aren’t we requiring that it be taught?”

The reason: Under the national Common Core State Standards adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education in 2010, elementary school students are no longer required to be proficient in cursive writing.

They are, however, required to be proficient in computer keyboarding skills by the time they leave elementary school.

In April 2011, state Department of Education officials sent a memo to local school administrators in Indiana telling them that they had the option of dropping cursive writing so they could focus more on helping students become more proficient in keyboard use.

While the state doesn’t keep track of school districts that teach cursive writing, state officials said Monday that they haven’t heard of any school districts that have quit teaching it.

The debate over the usefulness of learning how to write in cursive is playing out in states across the nation. Those in favor of cursive argue it hones motor skills and reinforces literacy. Those who see it as dispensable argue it takes up valuable teaching time better spent on other subjects.

In the 2012 session, Leising pushed for similar legislation, which passed out of the state Senate but died in the House when the bill didn’t get a hearing. She thinks there may be more support this year, given the change of leadership at the state education department.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who leaves office on Jan. 14, was a strong advocate of the Common Core State Standards. Glenda Ritz, the Democrat who defeated Bennett in his November bid for re-election, has called for the state board of education to re-evaluate the Common Core standards.

Ritz declined to comment on the cursive writing bill since she hasn’t had a chance to review its language.

The cursive-writing bill hasn’t found the support of state Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who chairs the House education committee. Behning said he’s “not inclined” at this point to support the bill by giving it a hearing if it passes out of the Senate.

But Leising plans to argue that cursive writing is still an essential skill that needs to be taught. To illustrate that point, she said one of her legislative staff members who took the standardized test required for graduate school had to answer an essay question using cursive writing.

Two of the common standardized tests for entrance to college, the SAT test and Advanced Placement exams, also call for handwritten essays.

On Wednesday, the Senate education committee will also consider a bill, authored by Delph, that seeks to give local school administrators at top-performing schools more flexibility to set class schedules and curriculum as they see fit.

Under the bill, administrators in school districts that have high graduation rates and high student scores on standardized tests, wouldn’t be bound by the state’s 180-day class schedules. Those schools could also develop their own curriculum, and create their own teacher evaluations and career and technical training programs.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • Our view: Throw open the doors

    As allegations and scandals continue to explode about hidden wait lists and cooked books at VA medical care facilities across the country, with hints of even more heinous findings to come, we have to wonder why it's business as usual in our nation's

    May 29, 2014

  • nws-gb011714 Land Zeppelin 2 (front page pic) Inventor hopes Bike Zeppelin takes off GREENSBURG - A local civil engineer has created a Zeppelin-shaped apparatus that allows bicyclists to ride in the rain without getting wet. Greensburg resident Jim Gorman remembers the day that inspiration struck: Nov. 22, 2011. It rained all day, an

    January 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Legislator pushes for public disclosure of former meth homes INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Wendy McNamara knew methamphetamine was a scourge on her district in southwestern Indiana, but the damaging effects of the drug really hit her when she met a real estate appraiser who’d suffered lung damage after visiting a

    December 14, 2013

  • Bird statue to be unveiled in Terre Haute Serving double duty as a baseball infielder for the American League's Toronto Blue Jays and basketball guard for Brigham Young University, 20-year-old Danny Ainge found time in March 1979 to drive from Provo, Utah, to Salt Lake City to catch an in-pe

    November 5, 2013

  • news school bill.jpg Pence announces school safety grants

    Flanked by fourth-grade members of the Ambassadors Club and student council at Cedar Elementary School here, Gov. Mike Pence announced more than $9 million in grants for schools statewide to enhance their security.

    November 1, 2013 1 Photo

  • Coats returns home to listen to Hoosiers INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Coats returned home to Indiana this week, hoping to turn the political conversation away from a failed GOP strategy that partially shut down the federal government and toward what he sees as more critical issu

    October 24, 2013

  • Congressman standing firm on government shutdown

    Todd Rokita of Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District has been an outspoken opponent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — a k a Obamacare — since it was signed into law in 2010.

    On Tuesday, the first day the federal government partially shut down in 17 years, the Republican congressman wasn’t backing down.

    October 1, 2013

  • Laws that carry automatic loss of driver's license under review INDIANAPOLIS -- The legislative study committee that proposed the massive rewrite of Indiana's felony code will soon take on another tough issue: The automatic penalty that causes thousands of Hoosiers to lose their driving privileges for committing

    September 19, 2013

  • Gingerich_AP PHOTO.jpg Prison sentence of 12-year-old prompts new juvenile sentencing law

    Three years ago, when 12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich became the youngest person in Indiana ever sent to prison as an adult, his story gained international attention and sparked questions about whether children belong behind bars with grown-up offenders.

    June 14, 2013 2 Photos

  • Supt_Ritz 1 .jpg Ritz orders independent analysis of ISTEP results

    Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has hired an outside expert to determine the validity of ISTEP+ test scores of nearly 80,000 students who were kicked offline while taking the high-stakes standardized test.

    June 10, 2013 1 Photo